Moscow Engaging in Ethnic Cleansing in Crimea, Latvian Foreign Minister Says

September 8, 2014
Edgar Rinkevics, Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. Photo:

Staunton, September 8 – The Russian occupation authorities in Crimea are engaging in ethnic cleansing on the Ukrainian peninsula, something that the international community must not only take note of but do everything possible to stop, according to Edgar Rinkevics, Latvia’s foreign minister.

And Mustafa Cemilev, the longtime leader of the Crimean Tatars who has been banned from his homeland by the occupation authorities, adds that the FSB-organized and directed campaign of discrimination and oppression against his people will not end until the Russian occupation does.

In a statement, Rinkevics said that what the international community is seeing on the territory of occupied Ukraine is “in essence the ethnic cleansing” of the Crimean Tatars by the Russian authorities, something that the OSCE and the Council of Europe should have been doing more to stop.

“We must not forget about this problem,” the minister said.

His declaration about Russian ethnic cleansing against the Crimean Tatars was part of a more general discussion of what Moscow is doing. “We live in a very critical time when under the cover of conflict in Ukraine are observed efforts to destroy the system of international law and the world order which has existed since the end of World War II.”

Latvians, like their two Baltic neighbors, have particular reason to remember and understand “what consequences such violations of international law can give rise to,” Rinkevics said, especially if there is no “unified and coordinated reaction of international organizations” to such acts.

“Unfortunately,” he continued, the reaction so far “has not been sufficiently adequate.” What is necessary is that “all possibilities and instruments which international organizations possess must be used to prevent this situation” from getting worse and ultimately reversing it lest what is going on now cast a dark shadow over the future.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Cemilev, the longtime leader of the Crimean Tatar movement who now serves as the Ukrainian government official responsible for the affairs of that people, says that Russia’s FSB has embarked on a strategy of repression against the Crimean Tatars and will continue on that road until the occupation ends.

In an interview on Hromadski television, Cemilev said that the FSB had increased its searchers in the homes of Crimean Tatars and sought to drive out of Crimea the most active members of that community in the course of a program of “the systematic violation of human rights on the peninsula.”

The Crimean Tatar leader advised all Crimean Tatars to seek legal assistance from their regional Mejlises when their rights are violated, and he said that in the near future, there are plans to create an authoritative “information and legal service” there to provide them with the kind of legal aid they need.

Meanwhile, the Russian occupation authorities who banned Cemilev from his homeland last spring for five years continue their campaign against him. He said in his interview that they had called for him to appear for an interrogation. Were he to appear, Cemilev said, he almost certainly would be arrested.