At least 22 people have gone missing in Crimea since Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory two years ago, the leader of Crimea’s Tatar people said Wednesday.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, a Ukrainian lawmaker and the former chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, told foreign journalists that the disappearances were part of an attempt by Moscow to pressure Tatars.
The Russian Federal Security Service, FSB, threatens with disappearances to intimidate opponents, Dzhemilev said while referring to the 22 people who were missing, adding that the figure is expected to be higher than 22.
Dzhemilev said Russian forces threaten Tatars who do not cooperate with commands, telling them their children could go missing if they resist to do so.
Since Russia took over Crimea in March 2014, the FSB raided nearly 200 homes, schools and mosques, Dzhemilev reported.
The lawmaker urged for greater international support for Crimea and Ukraine, criticising countries who turned a blind eye to Russian oppression.
“Crimea is disappointed by the fact that many states abstained from participating in the vote,” referring to the UN resolution vote for the annexation of Crimea two years ago.
“A country can invade and occupy another country in the 21st century -- almost as if we’re living in the middle ages -- while world leaders show no concern or worry whatsoever.”
The Russian takeover of the Crimea has been widely condemned, last year a Turkish delegation detailed grave human rights violations against Crimean Tatars
Out of Crimea’s population of two million, one in every seventh person is Tatar. They were forced to leave en masse to Central Asia in 1944 before returning in the late 1980s after the Soviet Union lead towards a collapse.