At least 44 more people have become victims of enforced disappearances in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol since the beginning of the Russian occupation.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said this on the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, with reference to the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) Commissioner for Human Rights.
"According to available information, at least 44 people have been victims of enforced disappearances in Crimea and Sevastopol since the beginning of the Russian occupation. The fate of 15 of them remains unknown," said the statement published on Monday.
The report indicated the names as; Valerii Vashchuk, Ivan Bondarets, Vasyl Chernysh, Timur Shaimardanov, Seyran Zinedinov, Islyam Dzhepparov, Dzhevdet Islyamov, Fedir Kostenko, Mukhtar Arislanov, Arsen Aliyev, Ervin Ibrahimov, Eskender Ibraimov, Eskender Apselyamov, Ruslan Haniyev, and Arlen Terekhov.
The vast majority of these people are pro-Ukrainian activists who openly opposed the Russian occupation, according to the statement.
"Today, the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea provides procedural guidance in 112 criminal cases on 173 facts of enforced disappearance, imprisonment and kidnapping," the ministry indicated.
In the vast majority of cases, it added, facts have been revealed indicating the involvement of the Russian occupation administration in the disappearances.
258 people have gone missing in occupied Donbas
Also, some 258 people, including 67 service members and reservists, are considered missing in occupied Donbas, the ministry reported.
Numerous cases of intimidation of relatives of missing persons and witnesses were also recorded. According to OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), the Russian occupation administration does not effectively investigate any of the crimes.
Ukraine to work with Crimea Platform members on the issue
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded that Russia fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, in particular with regard to guaranteeing the right to life, freedom and security of person.
"Ukraine will continue to work with international partners, including members of the Crimea Platform, so that Russia's violations as an occupying power remain in the focus of constant international attention and pressure on Russia intensifies to prevent such crimes and to conduct effective investigations into all cases of enforced disappearances," the ministry quoted First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar as saying.
U.S. calls on Russia to release political prisoners in Crimea
The U.S. Embassy called on Russia to immediately end the occupation of Crimea and release all Ukrainian political prisoners on the peninsula.
"On International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, we remember at least 43 individuals who have gone missing since Russia's forces occupied Crimea in 2014. We call on Russia to immediately end its occupation of Crimea, release all Ukrainian political prisoners it unjustly holds, and return full control of the peninsula to Ukraine," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Facebook.