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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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The problem of human rights violations in Crimea remains unresolved, and speculations by Hungary and Russia are increasing

As far back as November 8, 2019, the International Court of Justice in Hague concluded that its jurisdiction extends to consider Ukraine's claim against Russia due to the violation of international law in the annexed Crimea. The relevant decision was announced by the President of the International Court of Justice, Abdulqawi Yusuf. This refers to the application and interpretation of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which concerns the Crimea annexed by Russia. «Negotiations between the parties lasted for about two years, involving both diplomatic correspondence and personal meetings. This, from the point of view of the court and despite the lack of success to reach a compromise, indicates that Ukraine has made a sincere attempt to conduct negotiations (with Russia – ed.)», Yusuf said during the resolution part of the decision. He added that at the moment of Kyiv's appeal to the Court, negotiations with the Kremlin had reached an impasse.[1]

On March 6, 2020, the UN Security Council held a meeting dedicated to the occupation of Crimea. Representatives of Ukraine, in particular natives of the Peninsula, spoke at the meeting. Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Çubarov drew attention to the fact that Russia has not implemented any UN Security Council resolutions on Crimea. «All orders, decisions, resolutions, recommendations, declarations and appeals of the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and other international organizations in Crimea remain without the proper response of the Russian Federation and with violation of the Charter documents and principles of these organizations», Çhubarov said. 

The representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea, Anton Korynevych said that "currently 116 Ukrainian citizens, mostly Crimean Tatars are political prisoners detained by the occupying power". First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy called the information voiced by representatives of Ukraine "fairy tales" and "arias on the topic of Crimea". The representative of the European Union called Russia's annexation of Crimea illegal and "a direct challenge to international security". This position was supported by other states. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba thanked UN members who "uncompromisingly condemned human rights violations in Crimea".[2]

Special attention should be given to the fact that on the eve of December 3, 2019, the Chairman of the State Duma, Viacheslav Volodin said that the National Assembly of Hungary suggested Russia to join forces to "protect the rights of national minorities" in Ukraine. «The Hungarian Parliament asked us to join forces in order to protect the rights of minorities, first of all, to learn the language,» he said. The Chairman of the State Duma also said that a large number of Poles and Hungarians live in Ukraine, whose rights are allegedly violated. It is about the laws "On education" and "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language". Volodin made his statement immediately after Hungarian Ambassador to Ukraine, István Íjgyártó had given the interview to the edition "Glavcom". The interview was released on November 28, 2019, but received widespread media coverage the day before. The diplomat, in particular, criticized the "language" article of the Law "On education” and said that "the mixed system will lead to the fact that children will not speak neither Hungarian nor Ukrainian." "During the conversation, it was additionally indicated that the Law of Ukraine "On education" does not violate the rights of Ukrainians of Hungarian origin, but on the contrary gives them opportunities for better self-realization in Ukraine, which is confirmed by the Venice Commission," the dipvidomatic services noted.[3]

Such news caused a natural outrage in Ukraine. After all, now Russia has almost exhausted its arsenal of possible methods of influence on Ukraine, except for the massive military invasion or nuclear bombing. But Budapest still has many ways to put economic and political pressure on Ukraine. And Hungary relies on some of them, for example, blocks cooperation between Ukraine and NATO. The "appeal" of the Hungarian Parliament to Russian colleagues surprisingly coincides with the fact that just the day before, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó announced that he was starting negotiations with Russian "Gazprom" on a long-term contract for the supply of blue fuel.[4]

Nevertheless, on March 13, 2020, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the Law "On Comprehensive Secondary Education". The Office of the President of Ukraine assured that with the adoption of this Law, Ukraine has fulfilled the last recommendation of the Venice Commission on the Law "On Education" of September 5, 2017 in terms of education for persons belonging to national minorities. In particular, the Law "On Comprehensive Secondary Education" provides for the right to freely choose the language of the educational process by private educational institutions. In addition, the new Law details the provisions of the Law "On Education" of September 5, 2017, taking into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission, and introduces three language models for education in secondary education institutions.[5]

It is already the sixth year since Russia mercilessly violates human rights in the occupied Crimea and prohibits the restoration of the Mejlis. At the same time, in the international arena it promotes hearings on violations of the rights of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine. Therefore, the upshot is – the rights of people in Crimea will be suppressed until Russia leaves the Peninsula. As for Hungary, it may further worsen relations with Ukraine if it continues to «cooperate» with Russia on issues of national minorities on the Ukrainian territory.