Poland urges Russia to respect human rights in Crimea

The Polish foreign minister, speaking at a UN panel discussion, urged Moscow to respect human and minority rights in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Zbigniew Rau on Tuesday took part in a panel discussion organised by his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on the sidelines of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

"Despite repetitive calls on numerous international fora, the Russian Federation continues to occupy the autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, drastically violating international law and the human rights law," Rau said.

Russia annexed the peninsula after a referendum which the West says was rigged. The ballot was boycotted by some groups of local inhabitants, including the Crimean Tatars.

Rau accused Russia of exerting pressure on religious and ethnic minorities living in the region and resorting to repression against human rights organisations.

"It is estimated that as of December 2020, over a hundred people were detained for political or religious reasons, mostly Crimean Tatars," Rau said.

Rau said Poland was committed to protecting the freedom of religion and belief as he pointed to the worsening situation of religious minorities in Crimea.

The minister went on to say that Poland continues to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity "within its internationally recognised borders."

He also said that Poland "will continue to call for the protection of human rights of every person living in this occupied territory."