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Crimean Tatars call on UN GA to recognize Crimea as part of Russia

Russia has handed to the United Nations an appeal of the Crimean Tatar civil movement Kyrym, which requests to recognize the Black Sea peninsula's accession to Russia as compliant with norms of international law, to condemn Crimea's blockade and to help lift anti-Russian sanctions imposed by Western countries.

The appeal was attached to a letter sent to President of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson by Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin. The letter was posted on the UN website on Wednesday.

The appeal, approved by Kyrym movement in Simferopol on 10 December 2016, says that " <...> violent coup d'etat in Ukraine," in 2014 "which involved arson, the storming of administrative buildings and aggression against law enforcement forces resulting in numerous fatalities and considerable injuries, was a grave development that endangered the life, liberty and security of the people of Crimea."

In the wake of those developments, Crimea's authorities "chose the only valid course of action: to create the independent sovereign State of the Republic of Crimea, to hold a referendum on 16 March 2014 and, based on the outcome thereof, to join Russia and, consequently, leave Ukraine. There is absolutely no doubt about the genuineness of the will expressed by the large majority of the population of Crimea in the referendum, which averted serious consequences for security, peace and stability in Europe."

Crimean Tatars are convinced that "international law does not establish any prohibitory rules on matters of secession," and reminded that this notion should not be replaced with the word annexation (forcible transition of one state's land by another state).

Kyrym called on the UN General Assembly to admit that the declaration of independence of the Republic of Crimea and its free association with the Russian Federation are not incompatible with the norms of international law," to condemn "the policy of economic, trade and financial blockading of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol" and to lift "the political and economic sanctions" imposed on them.

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of Kiev authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014. Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

On 27 March 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Ukraine-drafted resolution that branded the referendum as illegitimate and urged countries and international organizations not to recognize Crimea part of Russia.

On 15 November 2016, the General Assembly voted for another Ukraine-drafted resolution, which condemned alleged human rights violations in Crimea. The four-page document condemned the infringement of human rights as well as the use of discriminatory measures against the inhabitants of Crimea, including Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and representatives of other ethnic groups and religious confessions.

Meanwhile, the Crimean Tatars' Kyrym movement said that "in all the years since independence was achieved in Ukraine, not one single piece of legislation was adopted to restore the political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Crimean Tatar people. This encouraged the authorities to commit arbitrary acts and violence against Crimean Tatar returnees and to disregard their rights to political, religious and socioeconomic development."

[Source: Itar Tass, The United Nations, 08Feb17]

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