April 18, 2021

On March 10, another high-profile arrest in illegally annexed Crimea
occurred, a local journalist was arrested allegedly for preparing
“subversive actions by order of the Ukrainian special services”.

A day earlier, on March 9, on the day of commemoration of the world-famous
Ukrainian poet of the 19th century – Taras Shevchenko, the detained
journalist drew attention to him by laying flowers at a monument to the
poet in the city of Simferopol. That was the fact used as a reason for his
detention by the Russian special services. According to them, an
improvised explosive device was found with the detainee, which served as
the main evidence during the arrest.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time in the occupied Crimea when
pro-Ukrainian locals have been persecuted and repressed by Russian law
enforcement agencies because of their civic position. As the
international human rights organizations informs, today over 5,000
political prisoners are detained in Crimea and Russia, mostly Crimean
Tatars and Ukrainians.

Every time the Russian special services act upon a similar scenario.
Initially, the future “terrorist” is monitored and they wait for the
proper moment for detention. When arrested, dangerous or prohibited items
(weapons, explosives, drugs) are “found out” at the detainee. Further,
Russian investigators seek for the evidence they need using physical and
psychological pressure. The use of torture against prisoners in Crimea is
becoming a common thing. No control over the actions of the security
forces is possible, since an access to the territory of the occupied
peninsula for international human rights organizations is not possible.

That is why, when arresting, especially recently the law enforcement
officers rely on such a term as “improvised explosive device” in most
cases. The use of the term makes it possible in the future to drop any
legal claims against the law enforcement officers, since if necessary (in
case of taking the wrong one, suspending the case, or leveraging the
so-called justice), the technical expertise can state in the findings
that a found item, called an improvised explosive device, is anything but
explosive.

Such demonstrative detentions are widely covered by the local and federal
media in order to foment an atmosphere of fear and create a negative image
of Ukraine, while mentioning of an “explosive device” in this case suits
the formation of appropriate public opinion never better. Even if
something of this is not confirmed later, no one will bother himself with
a refutation.

Why would the Russian special services arrange such “performances”? After
all, is it possible that laying flowers at the monument of the Ukrainian
poet could seriously shake the position of the Russian Federation on the
occupied peninsula?
Well, everything is pretty simple. Although Crimea has been de facto under
Russian jurisdiction for 7 years, a large number of problems still remain
unresolved. Moreover, they tend to worsen. For example, the peninsula is
constantly experiencing problems with fresh water supply. Until 2014, this
problem was solved by supplying water through the North Crimean Canal from
mainland Ukraine. After it was blocked, the problem exacerbated up to a
partial cessation of water supply (available only for certain hours) of
large cities amid the dry summer of 2020. The solution to this and many
other problems is not expected in the near future.

Instead, the Russian authorities attempts to divert the attention of
Crimeans and residents of Russia from pressing problems by hunting for
imaginary “saboteurs” and “terrorists”. Well then, in near future, in
view of the upcoming elections to the State Duma, in particular, we may
reasonably expect an increase in repression against activists and
independent journalists. The number of detentions will grow directly
proportionate to the problems increase in social sphere and
infrastructure of the Crimean peninsula.

Such “detentions” are also intimidation show offs targeted at independent
journalists and bloggers in order to discourage coverage of the real
problems of Crimea, destroying the image of post-2014 alleged prosperity
artificially created by the Russian media.

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