Three years after the annexation of the Crimean peninsula Hromadske`s Nataliya Gumenyuk spoke with Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Head of the Mejlis, who had been detained by the Russian authorities and charged with membership in Hizb-Ut Tahrir terrorist organization.
”The actions of the occupying power have taken a new form lately,” Umerov said, answering Hromadske`s question on what has changed in Crimea over the last nine months.
”They`ve started to restrict the rights and opportunities of our lawyers. Unfortunately, few of them have left Crimea. There is no freedom of speech, human rights aren`t respected, and there are no fair courts in Russia,” Umerov said.
He added that another ”innovation” was that instead of opening criminal proceedings that require a long procedure of hearings, the occupation authorities have now taken over the practice of opening administrative proceedings. They accuse a person in an administrative offense, usually it`s a publication or a repost in social networks, and imprison him for 10-15 days.
Umerov also complained that the range of actions that the Crimean Tatars can take is limited to a silent non-violent protest of non-recognition of the Russian occupation of the peninsula.
”And most importantly, we continue to live here,” he said. ”We are a real thorn in their side – the majority of the Crimean Tatar people still live in Crimea.”
He emphasized: Kyiv has to understand that ”Crimea is Ukraine, there are the Crimean Tatar people, who disobey and continue to live in Ukraine,” adding that he does not see any other way to influence Russia but to expand sanctions.
”If the world`s leading countries along with Ukraine strengthen the sanctions, the processes of reintegration and de-occupation will happen faster. I`ll emphasize once again that I do not consider the military options to be appropriate here,” Umerov said.