The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution strongly condemning human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and referring to Russia as an "occupying power" there.
The resolution,put forward by Ukraine and 30 other countries, was approved by 70 states. Twenty-six, including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and China, voted against. Seventy-six countries abstained from voting.
Ukraine's Permanent Mission to the United Nations said that the resolution confirms there is an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia and condemns the retroactive application of Russian laws to the territory, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said the resolution was the "toughest one" yet to pass the UN, which adopted its first resolution condemning human rights abuses in Crimea with a similar vote a year ago.
"The pressure on Russia is being increased," Klimkin said on Twitter.
Ukrainian diplomats at the UN said Russia, which claims that Crimeans voted to join Russia in a March 2014 referendum that has not been internationally recognized, put "enormous pressure" on UN member states to reject the resolution or abstain from voting.
Ukrainian's UN mission said the resolution condemns the compulsory naturalization of Ukrainian citizens under the Russian occupation and calls for the immediate release of unlawfully detained Ukrainians.
The measure calls for an immediate end to all rights violations, including "arbitrary detentions, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," and demands that Russia fulfill the interim decision of the International Court of Justice on the restoration of rights and freedoms for Ukrainian citizens on the peninsula.
It urges Russia to revoke its decision declaring the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar people's assembly, an extremist organization and banning its activities. It also called on Moscow to reverse other limitations imposed on Crimean Tatars.
The resolution also appeals to Russia to maintain the teaching of the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages in the territory.
The measure condemns Russia for failing to provide access to Crimea for the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission while it commends Ukraine for providing unhindered access to Crimea for journalists and human rights activists, and for supporting media and non-governmental organizations that were forced out of Crimea after Russia's takeover.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko thanked those who co-authored and voted for the resolution, calling them the "real friends of Ukrainian Crimea" in a Twitter post.
With reporting by Unian and Kyiv Post