Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland has announced he is sending a delegation to Crimea to assess the human rights situation on the peninsula.
"More than 2.5 million people live in Crimea, they are all covered by the European Convention on Human Rights and should be able to benefit from it," Jagland said in a statement on January 25.
"However, for more than a year, no delegation from an international organization has been able to go there."
"The mission will be conducted with full independence and will not deal with any issue related to the territorial status of Crimea," Jagland stressed.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after a referendum dismissed in the West as bogus.
Since Russia's land grab, fundamental freedoms have "deteriorated radically" for many in Crimea, especially for pro-Ukrainian activists, journalists, and the Crimean Tatar community.
That was the finding of a report issued in September 2015 by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.