The ECHR has acknowledged that the Crimean Peninsula belongs to Russia, writes the Russian press, taking out of context a court decision by which Moscow is assigned legal responsibility for what has happened on the peninsula since its annexation, including possible war crimes.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on January 14 this year that the complaint filed by Ukraine against Russia over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 is “partially admissible”, and a decision on the merits of the case is to be taken at a later date. According to the Court in Strasbourg, Russia has indeed exercised effective control over Crimea, as evidenced by the "size and strength of the increased Russian military presence" in the Ukrainian peninsula. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Ukrainian press have stated that the ECHR's decision was a victory for Kiev and a recognition of the illegal nature of Moscow's annexation of the peninsula. On the other hand, the Russian press sought to present a diametrically opposed interpretation, headlining that, in fact, the ECHR recognized Russia's right to control Crimea.
NEWS: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that, since February 27, 2014, Crimea has been "de facto under Russian jurisdiction." At the same time, the court did not indicate whether the annexation of the peninsula was legal from the point of view of international law. The decision was made during the examination of the Ukrainian complaint on Crimea. The court intends to continue working on the matter but has already found that some elements in Kiev's appeal have not been substantiated.
"The Court found that there was sufficient evidence for it to conclude that Russia had exercised effective control over Crimea in the period in dispute between the parties, namely from 27 February to 18 March 2014. Both sides agree that Russia has controlled Crimea after that period, but their positions differ”, the ECHR said in a press release on the case involving Russia and Ukraine.
According to Ukraine, Russia has "de facto control" over the territory of Crimea, while the Russian Federation claims that the court cannot rule on the ownership of the peninsula, as territorial disputes fall outside the jurisdiction of the ECHR. The court did not examine Crimea's legal affiliation [….]
In the court's view, Ukraine has provided sufficient evidence to allege human rights violations in Crimea. In particular, the ECHR considers some reports of repression of the non-Russian press, the banning of rallies and protests, the unreasonable detention and the persecution of Crimean Tatars.
At the same time, the court rejected some of the points on Ukraine’s complaint, considering them unconfirmed. The ECHR did not accept charges of killing civilians, detaining and intimidating journalists, discriminating against ethnic Ukrainians and politically motivated prosecutions.
NARRATIVES: 1. Ukraine has no clear evidence that Russia has illegally annexed Crimea. 2. Crimea is naturally under Russian jurisdiction. 3. The ECHR cannot rule on territorial disputes. 4. Crimea became an integral part of Russia following a popular referendum, in which the majority of the population voted for the transfer of jurisdiction to Moscow
CONTEXT / LOCAL ETHOS: Crimea became a “de facto” part of Russia in March 2014 following a referendum, held without international observers and under pressure from the Russian army, in which 95.6% of participants were in favor of joining the Russian Federation. The unification was carried out, according to norms of international, following an annexation. The referendum was rejected by most countries, including the United States, the EU members, Australia, Canada and Japan. On the other hand, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Kazakhstan and North Korea consider the peninsula as being Russian. The Minsk authorities recognized Crimea as "de facto" part of Russia. Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014 was followed by an armed conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has carried on until this very day, despite numerous armistices, and has resulted in nearly 13,000 deaths, according to UN figures. Ukraine has turned to a number of international organizations and institutions with complaints against Russia. In most cases, the things are in Kiev’s favor. Russia seeks to cover up both the actions undertaken to annex Crimea and its involvement in the Donbass war and uses fake news and disinformation to do so.
PURPOSE: To preserve and increase the confidence of Russian citizens in the Kremlin by furthering the idea that the annexation of Crimea to Russia was done correctly, and the international community is beginning to recognize this fact. The Russian media have taken out of context some sentences from the official ECHR communiqué, formulating headlines that are not related to the Court's stand. Another goal is to convince Russian-speaking readers in the former Soviet states that the EU and the US narratives regarding the illegality of Crimea’s annexation are false.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The ECHR has stated that Crimea has been under Russian jurisdiction since 2014, which means that Moscow might be responsible for the crimes committed there. The court, in fact, admitted Ukraine's complaints, following Russia's de facto trial. The ECHR does not examine territorial disputes in this case, but has established the party responsible for human rights violations on the peninsula. Assigning responsibility for the forces controlling an occupied territory is a current international practice, which by no means entails the recognition of jurisdiction over the territory.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The ECHR said in the communique that the deployment of Russian troops in Crimea took place without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and in the absence of "any element suggesting that a threat would target Russian troops stationed in Crimea." The ECHR noted that it had not been asked to establish "whether the integration of Crimea, under Russian law, into the Russian Federation was legal in terms of international law." The Russian press wrote that the ECHR did not say whether the annexation of Crimea to Russia was legal but did not mention that it was not asked to do so.
OFFICIAL REACTIONS: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the European Court of Human Rights' decision to recognize Ukraine's case against Russia "partially admissible" as a "victory for Ukraine". "It is, of course, a victory for Ukraine. It is an important step towards bringing Russia to justice for its aggression against Ukraine. And with each step, the price of this responsibility will increase. I am convinced that Ukraine's legal set of actions will gradually confirm the truth that Ukraine has reported since 2014 and will reject all the propaganda and disinformation that Russia has spread, " Kuleba said.