Day of Crimea’s resistance to Russian occupation marked today
Day of Crimea’s resistance to Russian occupation is marked annually on February 26.
Six years ago, on 26 February 2014, a several thousand strong rally of pro-Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and against holding an extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea took place in Simferopol. About 12,000 Crimean Tatars gathered near the building of the Crimean parliament on the initiative of the Mejlis. They were holding their national flags and the flags of Ukraine. Protesters chanted: “Glory to Ukraine – Glory to the Heroes!”, “Crimea is Ukraine!” To oppose them, a rally of the Russian Union party, led by a henchman of Russian occupants, Sergei Aksyonov, was organized.
On February 20, Russian troops began to occupy Crimea. The trucks without number plates and the so-called “green men” [masked soldiers in unmarked green army uniforms and carrying modern Russian military weapons and equipment] appeared on the peninsula. At the same time, the irregular armed formations of mercenaries from among the local residents, led by officers of the special services and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, were created and provided with weapons.
On February 26, two people were killed and several dozen people were injured in clashes. Subsequently, after Crimea had been illegally annexed, the Russian investigation committee instituted a criminal case over the clashes (the so-called “case of February 26”) and arranged a political trial of Akhtem Chiygoz, Mustafa Degermendzhi, Ali Asanov, and other Crimean Tatar activists.
Already the next day, February 27, the special forces of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Federation seized the premises of the Verkhovna Rada and the Council of Ministers of Crimea. At the same time, the parliament of Crimea, upon the demand of the invaders, announced holding a referendum on Crimea’s accession to Russia. It was planned to be held on May 25, but then it was decided to hold a referendum on March 16.
Over the next few days, the streets of the towns and main roads of the peninsula were filled with Russian troops. The so-called “green men” seized the administrative buildings, besieged the garrisons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, seaports, and airports. The leadership of Russia repeatedly argued that those armed people were not Russian servicemen. However, after the peninsula had been occupied and the fake “referendum on the status of Crimea” had been held, Russians admitted that the “green men” were the soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
March 1, 2014, the Federation Council of Russia supported president Putin’s appeal on permission for using the Russian Armed Forces in the territory of Ukraine. In turn, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine gave the order to put the Armed Forces of Ukraine on full combat alert in response to the Russian aggression.
The international organizations recognized the occupation and annexation of the Crimean peninsula illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. In particular, during this period, three UN resolutions on Crimea have been adopted. At the same time, a number of Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia.
Six years have passed, the situation in the annexed Ukrainian peninsula remains tense. The occupying power has chosen the tactics of intimidation and terror of the local population. Currently, the activities of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People are banned in Crimea. The repressions, raids on homes and illegal detentions take place on a regular basis. The aggressor state cynically disregards the fundamental human rights and freedoms and international law.