A Russian military court on March 22 sentenced two Crimean Tatar men to long prison terms for peaceful activities. Timur Yalkabov received 17 years and Lenur Seidametov received 13. Both were active in the Crimean Solidarity movement, formed to advocate for Tatar rights after the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in 2014. They were charged with membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a transnational Muslim civic organization that is legal in Ukraine. Seidametov and Yalkabov were arrested, with four other Crimean Tatars, in night raids on their homes by Russia's FSB secret police in February 2021, in which "prohibited" literature was supposedly found. Seidametov's wife has said that the FSB agents planted the literature. Russia's Supreme Court declared Hizb ut-Tahrir a "terrorist" organization in 2003, a ruling that has been widely used to prosecute Crimean Tatars for "involvement" in the group. Both men are recognized as political prisoners by the Memorial Human Rights Center, Russia's leading rights organization. (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)
In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin's ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin" and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for "genocide" of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposing a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign to "denazify" Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a "Nazi" state on the (dubious) basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community. Yet this "Big Lie" is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the "left" as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Exiled leaders of Russia's Itelmen, Kamchadal, Udege, Shor, Saami and Selkup indigenous peoples issued a statement on March 10 declaring that they are "outraged by the war President Putin has unleashed against Ukraine. At the moment, the entire population of Ukraine is in grave danger. Old people, women and children are dying. Cities and towns of an independent country are being destroyed because their inhabitants did not want to obey the will of a dictator and a tyrant." The statement adds: "As representatives of Indigenous peoples, we express solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for freedom and are extremely concerned about ensuring the rights of Indigenous peoples during the war on Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula that remains illegally occupied by Russia."
The Tatar people, whose homeland on the Crimean Peninsula was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, are now mobilizing across their diaspora to resist the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian heartland. The World Congress of Crimean Tatars released a statement calling the Russian invasion "banditry," and calling on Tatars everywhere to "fight against this immoral attack of Russia." The statement reads: "Our Congress recognizes its humanitarian and moral obligation to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and all other heroes and civilians who are victims of attacks and war, and so help them in all ways they are capable."
The European Union imposed new sanctions Feb. 21 on five Russian individuals involved in elections in the Crimean peninsula. The EU sanctions framework was established in March 2014, when Russian forces invaded and annexed the peninsula from Ukraine. At the time, the EU declared the move a "clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces." The new sanctions target five individuals responsible for election of members to represent the annexed peninsula in the Russian Duma. Three of the individuals are newly elected Duma representatives for the Crimean cty of Sevastopol. The other two are the head and deputy head of the Sevastopol electoral commission. The elections took place on Sept. 19, 2021.
Amid quickly escalating tensions over Ukraine, Russia has lodged a diplomatic protest with the US embassy in Moscow, claiming that a US nuclear submarine penetrated Russian territorial waters near the Kuril Islands. According to Moscow's Defense Ministry, a Virginia-class US Navy submarine was detected Feb. 12 off Urup Island, where Russia's Pacific Fleet was conducting exercises. The Defense Ministry said the submarine was chased off by Russian vessels, and retreated at "maximum speed." The statement accused the US of a "violation of Russia's state border." The Pentagon issued a statement, saying: "There is no truth to the Russian claims of our operations in their territorial waters." US President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for an hour later that day to discuss Ukraine, but according to the Kremlin the Kurils incident was not brought up. (TASS, Reuters)
A Law on Indigenous Peoples passed last month by Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has aroused rage from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces have been occupying the Crimean Peninsula since 2014. Bill No. 5506 was introduced by President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 18, the day that the Crimean Tatars commemorate Stalin's 1944 deportation of the entire people from their homeland. The law recognizes three indigenous peoples of Ukraine—the Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks. It guarantees these peoples collective and individual enjoyment of all cultural, educational and linguistic rights, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced Jan. 14 that it will hear a case by Ukraine alleging human rights violations by Russia in the Crimean Peninsula. The peninsula was unilaterally annexed by Russia in 2014. Soon after Russian forces seized control there, Moscow oversaw a referendum in which Crimea, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia. The results of this referendum were deemed illegal by Ukraine and the West. In addition to the legality of the annexation, human rights violations in the peninsula have been a cause of great concern. There have been claims of violations on 12 counts, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and persecution of Crimean Tatars. The issue was brought forth by Ukraine for adjudication by the ECHR, which has agreed to take up the case.