Crimea: Update on Events, 24 March 2014

Two more military officers were kidnapped on Monday — bringing the total number of people in captivity up to 11. Testimonies of victims and civil rights defenders claim that people in detainment were subjected to torture, beatings and even sexual harassment.

Kidnappings and captivity

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, during the storm of the military unit in Feodosiya, two more officers were kidnapped: Navy battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Delyatitskiy and vice-commander of staff Rostislav Lomtev. They were captured after the assault and taken by Russian helicopter to an unknown destination.

Thus, the number of people kidnapped and captured in Crimea expanded to 10 (more cases are still unreported). Four of them are civil activists and seven are military or border officers:

  1. Vladislav Polischuk, civil activist
  2. Ivan Bondarets', civil activist
  3. Valeriy Vaschuk, civil activist
  4. Abu Yusuf, civil activist
  5. Aleksandr Filippov, military personnel
  6. Yuliy Mamchur, military personnel
  7. Igor Voronenko, military personnel
  8. V. M. Demyanenko, military personnel
  9. Dmitri Delyatitskiy, military personnel
  10. Rostyslav Lomtev, military personnel
  11. Ivan Nikolus, border officer

Accoring to an update from the Ukrainian Ministry of defence, army officers Yevgheniy Pivovarov, Anatoly Kalyan and Vladislav Nechyporenko, previously reported missing, have been found and released.

Crimean civil rights defender Aleksandra Dvoryetskaya firmly believes that abductions are being committed by ‘Aksyonov’s gang’, former members of ‘Berkut’ forces and so-called ‘Security Service of Crimea’. Aleksandra, who was herself forced to leave to Kiev due to threats against her personal security, says that the Crimean militia is unable to explain whether they abide by Ukrainian or Russian law.

In another video, Aleksandra Dvoretskaya speaks out on human rights violations in Crimea, attacks on journalists and activists, enforced abductions, the current state of Ukrainian military units and the fact that there is no proper reaction of Ukrainian government concerning the situation (in Russian).

EuromaidanSOS initiative has received an e-mail from a person who was abducted in Crimea. The evidence shows that those who conduct abductions in Crimea use the same scheme and the same set of torture. The main irritant to them is Maidan and everything they think is connected to it. Activists conclude that the public and civil rights defenders know only isolated cases of abductions. It’s hard to tell how many cases of human rights violations have actually taken place.

A civil activist from Odessa, Martha Pogorelaya, told the EuromaydanSOS initiative about her ‘Crimean captivity’ experience. Together with her friend she was taken off the train at the border between Crimea and ‘continental’ Ukraine the day prior to the referendum, in the morning of the 15th of March and then released on 16th in the evening. They were subjected to bullying, beatings and sexual harassment. ‘I was hit in the face for an SMS concerning voluntary cleaning at Maidan’

 

Refugees

New information is emerging about the obstruction of movement out of Crimea for Ukrainian military families and Crimean Tatars. According to the ‘Batkivshchyna’ faction leader, Sergiy Sobololev, Crimean authorities are deliberately obstructing the movement of families of Ukrainian military personnel. The EuromaidanSOS initiative received information on the detention and robbery of groups of Crimean Tatars: ‘36 Crimean Tatars, among them six children, were going to meet people who organize accommodation for Crimean refugees. 15 kilometres from Simferopol they were stopped by ‘green men’, who took the Tatar’s possessions and money and tore up their documents, even children’s birth certificates. Tatars are reported to be released and they are staying overnight in the Belogorskiy region, but without any money and documents. They don’t know what to do.’

Lviv region authorities inform that 2,085 members of the Crimean population are seeking refuge in the Lviv region. Among the forcibly displaced persons are 1,039 adults and 1,046 children. More than 450 families from Crimea have called the Lviv Region Administration’s hotline. 1,131 refugees from the peninsula have already found a temporary home in the Lviv region.

Lithuania is considering the possibility of hosting refugees from Crimea. A follow up request was sent by officials in Kiev to Lithuania’s government regarding dozens of Crimean Tatars seeking refuge.

 

Military Units

Acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, signed a decree on the redeployment of Ukrainian military to the territory of the ‘mainland’.

On Monday, Crimea appeared to be absolutely cleared of Ukrainian military. Only the ship ‘Cherkassy’ is left “afloat” in any sense of the word. Here you can find a video that shows ship’s crew attempting to enter the black sea.

Ships ‘Konstantin Olshansky’ and ‘Genіchesk’ were attacked and occupied on the Donuzlav Lake. According to EuromaidanSOS, no one injured during the attacks.

During a storm of the marine battalion in Feodosia, stun grenades and other special equipment were used. Russian Special Forces took all Ukrainian military personnel into captivity, tied their hands and brought them to the port. At about 11am, Russian SF started releasing hostages. Dmitry Delyatitsky and Rostislav Lomtev are still in captivity.

Russians occupied Bakhchysarai’s military unit A3835, without a single shot and Ukrainian military personnel are deciding whether they should join the Russians. According to Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, close to half of Crimea’s military personnel joined Russian forces.

 

International Reaction

On March 24th, according to the results of G7 summit, The Hague Declaration was adopted, where G7 countries supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and also warned Russia about severe consequences that will arise in case of escalation.

 

UN

The Secretary-General of the United Nations claimed at the International Nuclear Security summit that nuclear security and nuclear terrorism threat issues require urgent solutions. He also admitted that the events in Ukraine drastically undermined trust to the guaranties which were fixed in the 1994 Budapest memorandum.

On the 27th of March, the United Nations General Assembly will review the draft resolution on Ukraine. The key objective of the resolution is to confirm territorial sovereignty and make a call to prevent recognition of the status change of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea following the illegal referendum.

The UN’s Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, ensured that the UN is ready to use all its levers of influence to prevent further destabilisation in the region.

 

European Union

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, will lead a delegation of the Europe Commission in Kiev on March 25th-26th, which will work on a 'road map' of reforms in Ukraine.

 

NATO

According to Germany’s Ministry of Defence, NATO doesn’t plan to strengthen its positions on the eastern border of the alliance. In Berlin on Monday, the office representative clarified that he’s talking about routine operations regarding airspace surveillance. According to a DPA agency, the number of aircraft will not be increased. During the airspace surveillance mission, NATO will enhance the use of AWACS spy planes on the territories of Poland and Romania.

Commander of the U.S. - European Command of NATO, Phillip M. Breedlove, warned that the number of Russian military concentrated near Ukrainian border is large enough to break through up to Transnistria. The General expressed concern that the military forces may threaten Transnistria and Moldova.

 

OSCE

At the Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague, acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andrew Deshchytsia, claimed that the OSCE mission which is operating in Ukraine should concentrate it's efforts in Eastern and Western regions of Ukraine as well as in Crimea.

 

The update is prepared by EuromaidanSOS initiative, International Group of Human Right Defenders on Ukraine and The Civic Solidarity Platform