The Council of Europe (CoE) adheres to non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and visit of the CoE mission to Crimea doesn’t change that fact. Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council’s Secretary General, said this in his Tuesday speech at the CoE Parlaimentary Assembly (Yevropeiska Pravda).
“No mission from an international organization visited Crimea for the last year and a half”, he said.
The official added that the visit of the CoE mission was agreed with Ukraine and Russia. “I assigned Gerhard Stoudman, an experienced Swiss diplomat, as Head of the Mission. He came to Crimea and will be staying there for another several days. But this visit shouldn’t be treated as recognition of the de facto power in Crimea. It is more like recognition of our special responsibility to protect rights of 2.5 billion people living there. We sent this mission to define what should be done to protect them”, he said.
The CoE mission’s mandate covers all major human rights issues including freedom of expression and media freedom; freedom of association and of assembly; minority rights; local and self-government; fight against corruption and prison conditions.
The mission which starts in Crimea on January 26 will conclude with a report and recommendations submitted to the Secretary General in late February or March.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after a referendum dismissed in the West as bogus.Since Russia's land grab, fundamental freedoms have "deteriorated radically" for many in Crimea, especially for pro-Ukrainian activists, journalists, and the Crimean Tatar community. That was the finding of a report issued in September 2015 by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.