Member of the Civic Chamber of Russia from the Republic of Crimea Ivan Abazher, who was on the Russian delegation to the 41th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held in Geneva, called on the UN to discuss and provide a meaningful response on Ukraine’s water blockade of Crimea at its next session.
“During this UNHRC session we called on the UN to add to the agenda of its next session a subject that concerns the vital rights of more than 2 million Crimeans who are Russian citizens. The topic of the water blockade of Crimea requires specific intervention and a principled international response. Ukraine has cut off the supply of fresh water from the North Crimean Canal to the Crimeans in a bid to provoke a humanitarian and environmental disaster in the region,” Abazher noted.
He added that for the last five years the international community had turned a blind eye to the gross violation of Crimeans’ rights by Ukraine.
“In April 2014, Ukraine halted the water supply [from the Dnieper River] to Crimea via the North Crimean Canal. Water shortages have affected tens of thousands of people in Crimean villages, including Ukrainians and Tatars. In this context, we suggest discussing the legitimacy of the Ukrainian move to cut off the supply of fresh water to the Crimean people. We would like to point out that the Dnieper begins in Russia, and hypothetically, Ukraine could also suffer from a shortage of water if Russia made the relevant decision. The North Crimean Canal was built back when Crimea was part of the Russian Federation and was subsequently donated to Ukraine together with Crimea in 1954. We believe that depriving Crimeans of fresh water is nothing short of genocide,” the Civic Chamber member said.
Ivan Abazher pointed out that water shortages had created environmental problems in Armyansk and in the north of Crimea, where the bulk of population is made up of Ukrainians who moved there in the 1950s and their offspring.
He added that Ukraine was persecuting Crimeans for political reasons and had restricted their freedom of movement.
“Because of these restrictions, people cannot reunite with their families or visit their relatives in Ukraine where they can be penalized for holding political views that differ from Kiev’s official policy. We urge the UN to discuss this problem at its next session because it affects the vital rights of over 2 million Crimeans who are Russian citizens,” Ivan Abazher explained.
In conclusion, he said that the problem should be addressed above all in the context of human rights rather than from the political position of protecting the interests of the state of Ukraine.