A new report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says Moscow is committing grave abuses in Crimea, including enforced disappearances, the imposition of Russian citizenship and the deportation of prisoners.

Participants hold placards and shout slogans during an anti-war rally in the Crimean town of Bakhchisaray on March 5, 2014,
Participants hold placards and shout slogans during an anti-war rally in the Crimean town of Bakhchisaray on March 5, 2014, (Reuters)

Russian state agents have committed serious abuses in Crimea, including torture, the UN warned on Monday. The human rights situation in the annexed peninsula has "significantly deteriorated" under Moscow's occupation, the rights office said.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014, soon after the overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych following mass protests in Kiev.

In a new assessment, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had documented "grave human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture, and at least one extra-judicial execution."

Several Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia after its move, punishing it for the annexation.

And Kiev accuses Moscow of backing the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine's industrial east, in a conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives since April 2014.

Call for investigation

In Monday's report, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Moscow to respect its obligations as an occupying power. The OHCHR demanded Moscow investigate all cases of alleged torture, abductions and killings involving members of the Russian security forces and Crimean self-styled "self-defence" units.

"There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress," UN rights chief Zeid Raad al Hussein said in a statement.

Hundreds of prisoners have been illegally transferred from Crimea to Russian prisons, according to the report, which added that at least three detainees had died after failing to receive adequate medical care in custody. 

Imposition of citizenship

The report further condemned Moscow's decision to substitute Ukrainian laws with Russian ones, and also to force people to adopt Russian citizenship.

Civil servants have had to renounce Ukrainian citizenship or face the sack, while Crimea residents who do not legally qualify as Russians have in effect become foreigners in their own local areas, the UN said. 

Such people "cannot own agricultural land, vote and be elected, register a religious community, apply to hold a public meeting, hold positions in the public administration" or even register their car, the UN probe found.  

"Education in the Ukrainian language has almost disappeared from Crimea," it added.

Human rights investigators were not permitted to enter Crimea, so the report is based on interviews conducted from mainland Ukraine.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies