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Russia tortured Ukrainians in Crimea, rules European Court

Hugo Miller and Olesia Safronova, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Russia is guilty of torturing, beating and numerous other human rights violations of Ukrainian nationals since it occupied Crimea in 2014, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

There were 43 cases of disappearances or abductions between 2014 and 2018 and the forced relocation of some 12,500 Crimean prisoners onto Russian territory, the Strasbourg-based court said on Tuesday.

Their ill-treatment included “arbitrary arrests and detention” and “torture.” Victims “were kept incommunicado, tied blindfolded, beaten up” and electrocuted, the court said citing a report from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Allegations of wrongdoing by Russia have been widespread since its troops first occupied Crimea in 2014, but Tuesday’s verdict is among the first condemnation by an international court since then. The conflict between the two countries has worsened with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, triggering fresh allegations of atrocities by Russian forces.

Iryna Mudra, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that the decision is the “first of a kind.”

 

“The international court recognizes that Russia is responsible for the policy of large-scale and systematic violations of various human rights and freedoms,” Mudra said.

The ECHR also found there had been a “systemic campaign of large-scale expropriation and nationalization of property belonging to civilians and private enterprises in Crimea.”

The court ruled that Russia must take steps to ensure the safe return back to Crimea of the prisoners transferred to Russia. However, this and other steps ordered by the court remain essentially unenforceable since Russia left the Council of Europe and the ECHR in 2022, shortly after the invasion.


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