…The treatment of the population in Russian-occupied Crimea remains alarming and is deteriorating. In August, authorities detained an elderly Crimean Tatar activist, Sever Karametov, for 10 days for picketing outside the courthouse in Symferopol in support of his compatriot, Akhtem Chigyoz, deputy chairperson of the banned Crimean Tatar Mejlis, who is the subject of politically motivated persecution. Another activist, Emil Minasov, was sentenced to a year and three months for expressing his opposition to Russia’s occupation on social media. Aleksiy Stogniy and Redvan Suleymanov were accused of spying for Ukraine and sentenced to three years and six months’ imprisonment, and one year and eight months’ imprisonment, respectively; plus a fine of 3.5 million rubles, reportedly on the basis of coerced confessions.
Ruslan Zeytullaev had his sentence extended yet again to a total of 15 years’ imprisonment for alleged involvement with the political movement Hizbut-Takhrir, which operates legally in Ukraine. He has now been transferred far from his family to a prison in Russia. Likewise, the sentencing of Volodymyr Balukh, a farmer and activist, in a Soviet-style show trial in August to nearly four years’ imprisonment, and the assessment of a fine of nearly 10,000 rubles in retaliation for his flying the Ukrainian flag and displaying a plaque in honor of slain Euro-Maidan activists in Russian-occupied Crimea, has chilled free expression. The harassment of members of the Ukrainian Cultural Center, Halyna Balaban and Alyona Popova, who were temporarily detained in Symferopol without charges on August 24, contributes to the climate of fear propagated by the occupying authorities.
We salute the Ukrainian citizens who celebrated Ukrainian flag day and Ukrainian independence day on August 23 and 24 in Russian-occupied Crimea. Dozens of brave people demonstrated their allegiance to Ukraine and protested against the occupying authorities, including those individuals who made a powerful video, protesting restrictions on their freedom of expression.
The United States continues to fully support Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. We join our European and other partners in affirming that our Minsk-related sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments. The separate, Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.
– Statement by Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Harry R. Kamian
to the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on