The Russian authorities are aiming to intimidate the active pro-Ukrainian population of the Crimea, to force people to remain silent or leave the peninsula, said the Mufti of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Crimea, Aider Rustemov, at the OSCE Conference on Human Dimensions.

Rustemov published the text of his speech on his Facebook page.

According to him, since March 2014, that is, from the first days of occupation, Russia systematically conducts repression against certain groups of the population in the Crimea.

Mufti noted that repressions can be easily called politically motivated, as they affect pro-Ukranian citizens, in the majority of cases, the Crimean Tatars, most of them are Muslims observing the religion.

“This is due to a certain cohesion of these groups of the population, their strong convictions and the rejection of occupation, which, apparently, represents a danger in the eyes of the Russian authorities. This idea is also confirmed by the fact that not only the Crimean Tatars, Muslims, but Christians, in particular, parishioners of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, are also subject to harassment. According to Archbishop Klement, prior to the occupation, the UOC-KP had 52 religious organizations in the Crimea, but by January 2018 only 9 parishes remained. On June 1, 2014, a group of armed men wearing the form of Russian Cossacks broke down the doors and illegally entered the premises of the Church of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Perevalne of the Simferopol district; the invaders destroyed the Orthodox relics.”

Aider Rustemov noted that the occupiers in Crimea are judging people for the Internet publications made before March 2014, for possession of books and participation in organizations that were not banned in Ukraine either before annexation, or now.

“Thus, we clearly see that the Russian authorities have decided to make it their mission to intimidate the active pro-Ukrainian population of Crimea, to make people silent or leave the Crimea.”

Rustemov drew the attention of the conference participants to the role of the so-called Crimean Muftiyat in repressions, as it lays information on Muslims.

“We observe the oppression of the Muslims, which takes place with the participation of not only the so-called "law-enforcement" bodies of the Crimea, but also from the filing of the so-called Crimean Muftiyat, which, without any embarrassment, writes denunciations against Muslims.”

The Mufti of Crimea demanded to stop the harassment and persecution on religious grounds. He called for the release of 32 arrested Crimean Tatars and 40 other political prisoners of the Crimean occupation regime.

Earlier, First Deputy Minister of Information Policy Emine Dzhaparova at a conference in Warsaw said that the RF spends millions to create a parallel reality distorting the real situation in Crimea and the Donbas.

According to her, the Russian authorities persecute independent journalists and bloggers in the occupied territories and use controlled media for propaganda and misinformation.

In turn, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin noted that Moscow is using fake news, speeches by so-called "journalists" of propaganda channels and members of fake "organizations" in order to turn the OSCE human rights conference into a farce.