WASHINGTON — Ukrainian activists say human rights violations are rampant in Crimea, the Russian-annexed peninsula of Ukraine, including people being forced to acquire Russian citizenship and intimidation of nationalists.
Activists spoke December 11 at a meeting of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, a U.S. government agency that monitors international adherence to the 1975 Helsinki Accords on human rights.
“The practice of human rights in occupied Crimea is dire and continues to deteriorate,“ said Ivanna Bilych, a Ukrainian lawyer and one of several authors of a report documenting problems on the Black Sea peninsula.
Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, several weeks after long-running protests in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv turned violent and forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee.
Bodhan Yaremenko, a former diplomat, called on the international community to keep in place the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Еurope on Russia after the annexation.
Andriy Klymenko, a former economist and editor-in-chief of website Black Sea News, said authorities have been quick to tamp down any signs of Ukrainian nationalism.