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Human Rights Defenders Reported the UN on Consistent Violations of Freedom of Faith in Crimea

The Crimean Human Rights Group presented a special rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights on freedom of religion or belief of the United Nations with a document that presented facts on persecuting religious organizations and their representatives in Crimea.

As of May 2020, at least 65 people are in custody due to falsified cases against Crimean Muslims. In 2019, in the “case of Crimean Muslims”, 12 convictions were passed, with 7 to 17 year’s sentences in the maximum security colonies.

The occupation authorities also intensified the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization faithful in Crimea. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russia has extended a ban on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the occupied Crimea, though in Ukraine this organization is not banned and is not considered extremist.

In May-June 2020, Jehovah’s Witnesses Sergey Filatov from Dzhankoy and Artem Gerasimov from Yalta were sentenced to six years in the general regime colony for religious beliefs.

The actions of the Russian authorities led to the elimination of several dozens of Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Crimea.

So, on March 23, 2019, Clement, Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, announced that he had to submit documents for the registration of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Crimea in accordance with Russian laws.

On April 12, 2019, the “Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation for Crimea” refused to register the Orthodox parish of the Ukrainian Church. Also in 2019, an attempt was made to seize the main church of this religious community – the Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Vladimir and Olga in Simferopol.

The CHRG experts note that the policy of the Russian authorities in Crimea is intolerant of the religious communities it does not control. This is proved by the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate do not face any restrictions, unlike other religious organizations.

The situation that has developed in Crimea after the occupation shows that the Russian Federation does not recognize freedom of religion as a fundamental human right, and allows the activities of religious communities depending on their level of loyalty to the Russian government and support for the occupation of the peninsula.

For the full text of the document in English, please follow the link.

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