Our Association addressed the special information to High Commissioner for Human Rights for his Report on challenges faced by states in using the UN Guidelines on the Effective Implementation of the Right to Participate in Public Affairs. “ARC”’s submission was devoted to the situation with relevant challenges for right to parcicipate in the Crimea.

“ARC” reminded to High Commissioner that international acts paid special attention to the brutal violation by Russia of the fundamental human rights in the Crimea, including right to assembly, right to association and right to information. Those issues are now the subject to consideration in international courts, including the International Court of Justice in case 166 and the European Court of Human Rights in case 20958/14 and others, where the decision on case’s admissibility was adopted already.

Association pointed to the High Commissioner that the basic ideas, underpinning the effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs, pointed in the UN Guidelines, are ignored and brutally violated by the Russian “authorities” in the Crimea. All the independent civil society structures were banned by Russia in the peninsula since 2015, and the individual activists trying to create new independent structures, are punished as allegedly “extremists” by Russian administrative and criminal mechanisms.

Independent bloggers and journalists are intimidated and persecuted in the Crimea and the representative body of Crimean Tatar indigenous people, Mejlis, has been banned there since 2016 by Russian “authorities”. Moreover, in 2020 Russian “governing structures” cancelled even a formal participation of the Crimean residents and local communities in the “municipal governing”, such as “public hearings”. Peaceful assemblies of political nature were banned in the Crimea since 2014 and attempts to organize them are punished brutally immediately.

“ARC” pointed to the High Commissioner that the mechanisms of realizing the electoral rights, reflected in the Guidelines, are ignored and brutally violated by the Russian “authorities” in the Crimea. Association stressed that the so-called “elections” of Russian parliament, held in September 2021 on peninsula were organized in atmosphere of total intimidation of the population, of absence of any politic concurrence, of total results’ falsification and of discrimination the Crimean Tatars.

Association pointed to the UN that the institutional framework for participation in public decision-making, foreseen by the UN Guidelines, are ignored and brutally violated by the Russian “authorities” in the Crimea since the beginning of occupation. The so called “referendum on reunion with Russia” held by the Russian invaders in March, 2014 in the Crimea, already occupied at that time by the Russian army, was not in compliance with Ukrainian legislation so with internationally recognized standards for decision-making procedures.

“ARC” reminded to the High Commissioner that the “referendum list’s” questions were non-alternative, the time for discussions was not given and any practical discussion was banned by the armed force of Russia’s invaders. The “legislative bodies” that proclaimed the “referendum”, pointed to its future “results” in those proclamations themselves and any independent control over this proceeding was absent. “ARC” stressed in our submission, with grounds on our previous researches, that Russia used actively the own military men, also as paramilitary units such as “cossaks” and “veterans of Soviet Afghan War” to make pressure, intimidation and persecution the Crimean residents regarding their allegedly “duty to vote for the reunion with Russia”. And, as Asssociation pointed in that submission, after this imitated “referendum”, during the next seven years of Russian control over the Crimea, any kind of Crimean residents’ involvement into any real decision-making procedures was not even imitated on the peninsula by the Russia’s invaders.

Association stressed in this submission that all stages of the decision-making procedures in the Crimea are realized by the Russian “authorities” without any effective participation of the local population. Civil initiatives are de-facto banned and punished, public hearings are cancelled, and Russian “authorities” also punished Crimean residents for the “not allowed” and “not legalized” collection of signatures for some ecologic petitions, for any collective actions on defense of their property, labour or social rights.

Assotiation pointed to the High Commissioner, in framework of the UN Guidelines’ points of the informational and communicational technologies, that Russian “authorities” used the “electronic voting system” during three-day “elections” of Russian parliament, held in September 2021 on peninsula, for the brutal falsifications the “voters’ turnout” number and the “electoral results” in favor of “United Russia” “party list” and “majoritarian candidates”. And at the same time there are no any effective mechanisms of e-communication with any “bodies”, “structures” and “officials” of the Russian de-facto “authorities” for the Crimean residents; Internet forums and social networks are censured and any criticism is punished as the allegedly “extremist activities” in the peninsula. “ARC” informed UN that some Ukrainian official websites that give the administrative services online and allow making on-line applications, petitions and proposals, are banned in the Crimea by the Russia-controlled Internet providers.

Regarding the demands of UN Guidelines on the participation at the supranational level Association pointed to the High Commissioner that Russian central authorities and Crimean “administration”, controlled by them, pay a strong attention to the issue of the allegedly “Russia-united Crimea” in the international agenda including the international organizations’ activities. “ARC” stressed in the submission that the activities of related Russia-controlled structures such as “Friends of Crimea” or the “Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly” are funded by the costs on the international criminal structures in area of human trafficking.

“ARC” informed the High Commissioner that their propagandistic efforts are combined with Russia’s systematic repressions against civil activists from Crimea, who tried to participate in the activities of the international structures with alternative positions. For example Crimean Tatar activists were attacked by the Russia-controlled punitive structures in 2014 – 2016 preventing their expert participation in the UN activities or punishing them for such activities. And in 2021 deputy head of the Mejlis was arrested in the Crimea by Russia-controlled punitive structures for allegedly “diversion organizing” but de-facto for his speech on the “Crimea Platform” as on the international initiative, organized by some democratic countries in Kyiv in August 2021.

So our Association recommneded to the High Commissioner to pay more attention to the realization and implementation of the above pointed UN Guidelines in the situations of the interstate conflicts and occupied territories such as the Crimea. In Crimea’s case such tasks may be established for the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which activities and practical potential should be enforced. Also “ARC” stressed in this submission that the UN structures, such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights might form the framework of cooperation with the international “Crimea Platform” initiative started in 2021.