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EU sanctions Russian individuals over human rights abuses in Crimea

by Martin Fornusek September 8, 2023 9:07 PM 2 min read
From left: Crimean Tatar activists Rustem Murasov, Jebbar Bekirov, Rustem Murasov, Zavur Abdullaiev, and their lawyer Emil Kurbedinov pose for a photo in the Russian court. (Source: Crimean Solidarity/Facebook)
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The EU Council imposed sanctions against six Russian individuals responsible for human rights abuses in Russia and in occupied Crimea, the Council announced on Sept. 8.

The list includes prosecutors and judges who oversaw the court proceedings in occupied Crimea against Ukrainian journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko and Crimean Tatar activist Nariman Dzhelialov.

The Council emphasized that Russia's judiciary is not independent and is "used to systematically and severely violate the human rights of individuals opposed to the ruling regime by violating their freedom of opinion and expression."

The latest package further includes two officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) who tortured Yesypenko or took part in the investigation of his case, as well as those of Crimean Tatars and Jehovah's Witnesses in Crimea.

NGO: Russia conducts raids at Crimean Tatars’ homes
Russian security services conducted searches at the homes of Crimean Tatars in the Bakhchysarai district on the morning of Aug. 24, the Crimean Solidarity human rights organization reported.

The sanctions were imposed under the EU's Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, which already includes 67 individuals and 20 entities. The applied restrictive measures encompass a travel ban and asset freeze.

Yesypenko, a freelance journalist writing for the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was arrested by the FSB in March 2021 for alleged espionage and possession of explosives, a charge which he rejected. Following a trial that Ukrainian officials and the RFE/RL called a "travesty" and "politically motivated," the journalist was sentenced to six years in prison.

Dzhelialov, an activist, the main deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, political science expert, journalist, and teacher, was sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment over alleged sabotage at a gas pipeline in the Perevalne village.

Russia occupied the peninsula in 2014 after the EuroMaidan Revolution ousted the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Since then, the occupation authorities have been carrying out repressions against pro-Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars.

Members of the Crimean Tatar community are regularly indicted with trumped-up charges of extremism and terrorism and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in kangaroo courts.

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