Our Association sent the submission to UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Dr. Pedro Arrojo-Agudo for his next reports at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council and 77th session of the UN General Assembly, devoted to rights of indigenous peoples, residing in rural areas, to water.

ARC reminded to the Rapporteur, that in the Crimean peninsula, illegally controlled by Russia, negligence and illegal actions of the so called “authorities” caused the ongoing water crisis, that is a key challenge for the indigenous Crimean Tatar people and for other population of the region’s rural areas. ARC stressed in the submission on UN GA resolution 76/179 pointing that Russia as occupying State bears all responsibility for ongoing water crisis in the Crimea, ARC reminded in document that European Court on Human Rights refused in 2021, as Russia asked, to oblige Ukraine supply water to the Crimea by the North Crimean Channel.

ARC reminded to UN official that the key challenge for the Crimea since 2015 is the water crisis, that appeared exactly due to the policies of the Russia’s “authorities” in conditions of the climate change. Russia established its effective control over Crimea with its 2,5 million inhabitants and the next years, it has relocated over 500 thousand of Russian residents to the Crimea. Russia initiated large military infrastructure projects in the Crimea, requiring massive water supply. Russian business structures, controlled by its government, commenced a programme of massive residential housing construction for the Russia’s settlers and military personnel in Crimea. Russia-controlled “regional and municipal authorities” paid no attention to plumbing and sanitation systems, as well as sewage treatment plants in the Crimea.

ARC pointed to UN Rapporteur that during 2020-2021 its experts analysed those issues with a close cooperation with the Crimean Tatar Resource Centre, with consultations with Crimean Tatar representatives, members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People. Association took part in conferences devoted to Crimean issues, including water crisis challenges, and in the “Crimean Platform” high-level summit in Kyiv in 2021.

ARC informed UN on brutal violation of the international environmental law by “Siemens” and “Grundfos” companies that supplied in 2020-2021 industrial water pumps to the Crimean “administration”; such pumps’ exploitation in military purposes destroyed the unique ecosystem of Zuya River valley, traditional for the Crimean Tatars. ARC pointed on its cooperation with German and Danish officials, European Commission and ecologic organisation on this issue, and it stressed in submission that relevant investigation was held by the Dutch Business Authority due to ARC’s complaint. 

ARC pointed to UN Rapporteur that relevant human rights’ activities caused the aggressive reaction of the Russia’s so-called “authorities” in Crimea. ARC’s expert, professor Borys Babin was declared as allegedly “extremist” by such “authorities”, relevant “criminal proceedings” were initiated by them. Association stressed in the submission that in 2020-2021 the water crisis in Crimea intensified.

Russia’s “authorities” in the Crimea did nothing to ensure that any parts of Crimea’s society have access to reliable, timely and easy to comprehend information on all aspects such water management processes. All Russia’s infrastructural activities in Crimea are corrupted and non-transparent. Russia’s “authorities” did not provide any protection guarantees in peninsula, related to climate change. The only compensation is paid by Russia to own army personnel, as for “military service in the arid zone”.

Association pointed in its submission that it sent in 2021 to the UN Human Rights Council the proposals on two Crimea-related natural objects to the researchathon on sacrifice zones and human rights, such as Sivash and Kalamita bays, discussed it with Indigenous Peoples Rights International. ARC mentioned in its submission modern situation of ecologic disaster connected with flooding Yevpatoria town with the waters of Sasyk-Sivash Lake, and on catastrophic changes in Lake Sasyk’s hydrology, including risks of new floods in Crimea’s Saky District and of entry of chemical waste from the Saki plant into open watercourses.

ARC stated in its material that there is no effective mechanism available in Crimea to submit complaints regarding access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as obtain information on how those complaints were handled and resolved. Such complaint will not be satisfied and its authors will be punished for “illegal activities”, including tortures and forced disappearances, often committed by the Russia-controlled paramilitary structures. Association pointed to UN Rapporteur of the relevant negative practice that was in 2021 during collection the signatures against the corruption in the “Water of Crimea” and against desalination systems.

Association pointed that Crimea’s human rights defenders and activists who stand up for the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation of indigenous peoples are under permanent fear, criminalization and harassment. The example of Ludvica Papadoupulu, blogger from Yalta, was given, who was persecuted by the Russia-controlled punitive structures in 2020-2021 for her posts in the social networks on the ecologic issues.

ARC stressed in its submission that water always had specific, sacral importance for the Crimean Tatar people in arid Crimea. Now the Russia-controlled “Water of Crimea” is responsible for the water management in the region and it has no cooperation with Crimean Tatars. Crimean Tatars and their communities have no effective access to water management issues in the Crimea since 2014. Economic and water crisis in Crimea forces Crimean Tatars to resettle to Simferopol and other cities since 2015. At the same time exactly Simferopol, central city of the Crimea, became a destination for most Russian citizens illegally resettled by the Russian “authorities” to Crimea, including military officers, “officials” and their families.

The quantity of city’s population increased from 300 thousand in 2014 to 500 thousand in 2020-2021 and it continues to grow. Yet, the infrastructure of Simferopol, including its water and sanitation systems, road network, schools, kindergartens, hospitals etc. does not satisfy the needs of its half-million residents. In 2020-2021, the deficiencies of the Russian “authorities” in the city and rural management caused the systematic water crisis in Simferopol and other localities of Crimean Tatars’ settlements. Furthermore, chaotic construction of residential and non-residential buildings by the Russian commercial structures associated with the “authorities”, accompanied by failure to comply with any imaginable architectural and safety standards, ruins the unique landscapes and creates risks for the residents of Crimean cities and rural areas, including Crimean Tatars.

ARC invited in its submission UN Special Rapporteur to Ukraine, including Crimea, to make a first-hand impression of the situation of water crisis, caused directly by the crimes and negligence of Russian “authorities” in the Crimea. UN representatives thanked our Association for presented materials.