The Crimean Human Rights Group publishes its Situation Review for March 2021 / Photo from UNIAN

Over 110 people were illegally deprived of liberty as part of political persecution in Russia-occupied Crimea as of the end of March 2021.

"As of end of March 2021, [as many as] 114 persons were deprived of liberty within a politically motivated criminal and/or religious persecution," the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) reported said in its Situation Review for March 2021, which was posted on the organization's website.

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In March, the total number of Crimean residents deprived of liberty under the "Case of Crimean Muslims" was 74 persons, and five more people were subject to movement restrictions: three are placed under supervision and were not allowed to leave the occupied territory, and two were placed under house arrest, it said.

This case defendants are accused of membership in Muslim religious organizations or propaganda of activities of the organizations that are declared terrorist or extremist in the Russian Federation though they are not according to the Ukrainian laws.

At the end of March 2021, sixteen people (including journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko) who were accused by Russia's FBS during the detention "of preparing subversions, possession of weapons and espionage," were in custody. These cases feature recorded facts of unlawful investigation methods, torturing to get confessions, violation of presumption of innocence, dissemination of 'confession' videos by the Russian FSB via the Russian mass media.

What is more, as of the end of March, six people were deprived of liberty under a charge of being in the Noman Chelebidjikhan battalion. The official reason for persecuting the accused in Crimea under Article 208-2 of the Russian Criminal Code is that they failed to come voluntarily to the Russian law enforcement agencies and declare their participation in the Crimean Tatar Noman Chelebidjikhan Volunteer Battalion. The evidence of the battalion actions against the Russian interests declared by the investigation is the information of mass media that the purpose of the battalion establishment was to end the occupation of Crimea.

"As of the end of March 2021, at least five persons were deprived of liberty within the persecution of 'Jehovah's Witnesses' in Crimea. Four more people are under the movement restriction: three are on house arrest, and one is under travel restriction," the CHRG said.

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