Crimean Tatars Brand 'Groundless' Kiev's Claims Against Russia In ICJ Lawsuit On Crimea

SIMFEROPOL (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 21st November, 2019) Ukraine's claims that Russia violated a number of international conventions, including that on racial discrimination, are groundless, the head of the Regional National and Cultural Autonomy of Crimean Tatars, Eyvaz Umerov, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

In early November, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that it had the jurisdiction to hear the case brought by Ukraine against Russia on Crimea. Moscow reacted, saying that it expected the ICJ to turn down the claims.

"All claims and accusations of the Ukrainian authorities are completely groundless. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Crimean Tatars learn [their native] language today, celebrate their religious and cultural holidays, pray in mosques, and no one persecutes them. Only those who break the law are subject to legal prosecution," Umerov said.

According to him, the international community should pay attention to the activity of organizations, which are banned in Russia but operate freely in Ukraine.

"Mejlis [an extremist organization banned in Russia] and Hizb ut-Tahrir [a terrorist organization banned in Russia], which organize a blockade of Crimea and Crimean people, disrupt transmission towers and permanently pose threats against the population of the peninsula, are the main oppressors of Crimean Tatars and terrorists," he stressed.

The Crimean Peninsula rejoined Russia after nearly 97 percent of voters supported the move in the referendum, held in March 2014. The majority of Western countries, as well as Ukraine, have not recognized the referendum results and imposed sanctions on Russia. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Crimea's residents decided to rejoin Russia through a democratic procedure, as the referendum was conducted in compliance with international law. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the issue of the peninsula's territorial belonging is "historically closed."