Acting Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Michele Siders said this while delivering the speech at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
"The United States remains concerned about those brave enough to speak out against Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Crimean Tatar activists, many of whom were transferred to Russia for incarceration, suffer in poor conditions," the U.S. diplomat stressed.
In this regard she mentioned Emir-Hussein Kuku, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Oleksandr Kostenko, Ruslan Zeytullayev and the other Crimeans serving sentences in Russian prisons in retaliation for their opposition to Russia’s occupation.
"We again call on Russia to release them," the U.S. representative said.
As Siders stressed, the Russian occupation authorities continue to harass and persecute Crimean Tatar activists with impunity, in what Human Rights Watch terms a “black hole for human rights.” She recalled that on January 25 police raided the homes of activists Enver Krosh and Ebazer Islyamov.
"The authorities charged and summarily convicted both men of “public demonstrations of extremist symbols” in connection with social media posts they made in 2013 and 2012, respectively," the American diplomat noted.
She also recalled the case of Crimean Tatar activist, Ismail Ramazanov was detained in Simferopol on January 23 on charges of “inciting hatred against Russians” for comments he allegedly made on the internet.
"We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine," the Acting Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE said.