Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at an Arria-formula meeting of Security Council Member States on human rights issues in Crimea
In the concept note for this meeting you say that it will provide an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts on the situation in the peninsula.
It is not the first time we attend such events. We have listened very carefully to everything that has been said. Where are those “first hands”? What was the last time these people visited Crimea? Have they ever visited the Russian Crimea that we speak about now? We have tried to correct this flaw that by all means devaluates this entire meeting. We suggested organizing participation of a number of Crimeans via VTC – Deputy Mufti of Crimea Asadullah Bairov, Head of the Ukrainian Community of the peninsula, Permanent Representative of the Republic to the President of the Russian Federation. They were ready to speak today, but unfortunately they were denied participation in this event, which was explained by a laughable excuse – they were told this meeting already had enough briefers. It means you do not want to hear any information about the real situation in Crimea.
Instead of the people I mentioned who could really tell us what is going on in Crimea, today we listen to briefings by those who represent no Crimeans, and whose last visit to Crimea was at the time when the peninsula was subordinate to Kiev. How can they give adequate assessments to the life of this Russian territory? What is the added value of such telltales?
Last year at a similar meeting I said that your Arria-formula events about Crimea resembled meetings of fantasy-writers, or rather those of authors of horror fiction. Today this trend clearly showed itself. We heard new fables. Of course, people who hear them cannot double check and refute them. Unfortunately, they accept them at face-value. Representatives of Crimea could be doing the refutation right now, but you deprived them of an opportunity to present their point of view.
However, there is still one peculiarity of this meeting that I would like to highlight, and it will not speak in favor of the organizers. Mr.Chubarov, who is present here today, in everyone’s hearing proclaimed an intention to hold on 3 May the so-called “march of dignity” if I get the name right. As a matter of fact, what he talked about is an attempt to carry out a mass crossing of Russian-Ukrainian border in Crimea. I think no one in this room has any doubt regarding possible effects of such provocation and the illegality of such step. I heard no single objection and no critical remark on that matter, so I conclude that all representative of Western states who spoke before me are going to be co-partners of this campaign, and probably, they are going to sponsor it. This is quite notable, as it would be a serious aftermath of today’s meeting.
We have stated many times that in our assessments we need to proceed from facts rather than speculations. Today many in this room emptily asserted they had no opportunity to go to Crimea. Let me ask again: why? What stops you? Crimea is an open Russian region, where anyone may come provided that they abide by Russian laws. I would like to say to the representative of the OHCHR who has already left, that from the very beginning we were saying that we would be happy to see OHCHR representatives in Crimea. We reiterated that in writing. To be frank, I do not quite get what problems they have with visiting Crimea. Do you suggest we should buy you tickets? This is ridiculous - we are all grown-up people after all. Plane - airport - Crimea. It is as simple as that. No problems.
You made the point about Crimea’s occupation a leitmotiv of this meeting. This is also quite remarkable. Let me ask you to think for a moment what occupation is. For example, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was occupied by Nazi Germany’s troops during World War 2. There were punituve area squads that fought against guerrilla fighters. Supported by local collaborators, who are praised as national heroes in Kiev today, they suppressed any protest. Their actions resulted in the killing of 8-10 million Ukrainisns, Russians, Jews, Poles, and others who stood up against the new authority. These are not fantasies; these are facts that have been proven many times, i.a. by the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Here is another example - separate areas in northeast Syria that remain occupied by US troops that, as president Trump put it, “secure the oil”. We have not heard those regions to be free to enter, to be visited by tourists. This is what you call an occupation.
Now to Crimea. Last year it was visited by 7 million tourists from Russia, Ukraine and others states. Think of it: there are 7 million tourists as compared to the population of 2.5 million. By the way, there are increasingly more tourists from Ukraine, about 1 million by now. Upon return, many of those who visit Crimea make a huge number of publications on social media, post photos and reviews.
This year the Crimean Bridge, in addition to highway service, launched railway service (cargo and passenger). One can expect the tourist flow to continue growing. Let me emphasize that the peninsula has no restricted areas that are unavailable to tourists; there are no bans on contacts with Crimeans.
Where are those punitive squads? I would ask you. Where are those guerrillas resisting the occupation? Where are the occupants in Crimea? Apparently, you consider 2.5 million Crimeans as occupants. But they are living on their own land. And they are enjoying life, fully. They continue to speak (just as they used to) Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean-Tatar languages, and face no problems in that regard. You don’t believe? Then travel to Crimea and see for yourselves. The doors are open to everybody. Who of you in this hall has visited Russian Crimea? We are having here empty talks. Come and see!
So, this is the real situation: there is no annexation, no occupation, but a thriving Russian region, where the residents made a choice to be with Russia, in full compliance with the UN Charter, which is pain in the neck for those who you invited to this event. Either for all of those covering up acts of Ukrainian nationalists and blatant russophobia of the Maidan authorities. Hence it is clear that they are holding grunge against their former compatriots and against Russia protecting them from the Maidan lawlessness. Hatred is the key note of all your statements.
I was not going to respond to the statements you made. But some issues are noteworthy. Mr. Chubarov, I would like to disappoint you. You have said that there is only one Crimean Tatar TV channel. That is not true. On the peninsula there are about 50 Crimean Tatar media outlets including television outlets. And it will be immediately clear when one visits Crimea.
I would not comment on reported data about education, prosecution and so on. You could have drawn it up here in this hall. This data has nothing to do with reality.
There were speakers who mentioned the forcible, if I remember correctly, militarized education of Crimean children. There were also mentions of the "Young Army" program. It is quite weird – in fact we are talking about scout exercises. I am not sure that scout exercises are prohibited anywhere. I do wish to share with you some information, conveyed by CNN, Euronews, Washington Post, about nationalist camps for children - "Garta Voli" (in Ternopil region) or "Azovets" (near Kiev). Journalists visited those camps and they saw there children who were only 8 years old, including girls. One girl was interviewed. And she said the following: “We are to target separatists and Moscow occupiers because they are not people”. And the supervisors in those camps are Ukrainian nationalists. Euronews noted that children were being indoctrinated not only with ideals of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army but also with the principles of white Europe. This is racism. So, that is the militarized education of youth. If you are interested, you can dig deeper, there is far more information about that. However, I am not certain that you wish to know that.
But let’s return to the briefers. As a human being, I do feel sorry for you, distinguished former Crimeans. Over the past 6 years you have completely cut all ties with Crimea, you keep on telling worn-off clichés. But you should understand that Crimeans do not believe you, because your rhetoric has nothing to do with the reality. Therefore, you have to play the role of pseudo- human rights defenders, demanded by your Western sponsors, levelling new allegations against Russia and Crimeans. This is the most unfortunate role, I do not envy you. Crimeans would present you their assessment if they were given the floor today. But we have not heard Crimeans here today.
And you, gentlemen, yourselves abandoned your homeland, Crimea. And you do not even wish to notice its success. Don’t blame anybody but yourselves for that. Recall the russophobic, hate-mongering statements that we heard from the rostrum of the Verkhovnaya Rada after the Maidan coup. They were full of threats against Crimeans and all Russian-speaking population of Ukraine. Remember so-called “friendship trains” with nationalists, armed at all points, which were supposed to be deployed to quell Crimea. Recall the buses set ablaze with Crimean activists returning home from Kiev where they tried to express their views at peaceful demonstrations. Recall the subjugation of Berkut elite police squad, who were seeking to uphold constitutional order and lawfulness, but then they were subjected to indignities and prosecution. And finally, you recall the stories about Bandera’s butchers and Hitler’s henchmen spread around to erase the memory of those, who liberated Europe from Nazism and who brought freedom and the right to life to Europe.
Thank irresponsible politicians for what happened. They recklessly lit the fire of intracivilian hatred and russophobia on Maidan back in 2014. And this fire burned off various Ukrainian regions, and peaceful protesters in Odessa, for which nobody has been held accountable still. This fire spilled over to Donbass with fratricidal civil war. And instead of extinguishing this flame, you blow it up by such propagandistic actions as today's one. At the same time, you are playing along the geopolitical interests of a number of external players who continue to bet on doing the greatest possible damage to Russian-Ukrainian relations.
The Crimeans will definitely give assessment to your actions.