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The Daily Vertical: Tales Of The Disappeared (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

They were law-abiding Ukrainian citizens.

They opposed Russia's illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea.

They were somebody's husband, somebody's father, somebody's brother, and somebody's son.

And they've been disappeared.

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According to human rights groups, at least eight and as many as 17 residents of Crimea have vanished since the Russian annexation.

Some rights activists say the true number is even higher.

And at least six of the disappeared were later found dead.

They include people like Reshat Ametov, a Tatar activist who was abducted in the center of Simferopol.

His body was later found with signs of torture.

They include people like Edem Asanov, another Tatar activist who disappeared in September 2014 on his way to work. His body was found hanged in a deserted building.

And they include people like Vasily Chernysh, a Ukrainian activist with the AutoMaidan movement and former employee of the Ukrainian Security Service in Sevastopol. He has not been seen or heard from since police came to his apartment, detained him, and took him to an unknown location.

When Russia annexed Crimea, Vladimir Putin's regime claimed it was fulfilling the wishes of the peninsula's people.

And those who challenged this narrative are being systematically silenced one way or another.

Some, like the acclaimed Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov and numerous Tatar activists were prosecuted in show trials.

And others have been simply disappeared.

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