On November 27, Ivan Abazher, Civic Chamber member from the Republic of Crimea and chair of the Council of Crimea’s Regional Bulgarian National Cultural Autonomy, was supposed to leave for Geneva to attend the Twelfth Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues operating under the UN Human Rights Council.
“I received an attendance confirmation, although many of my colleagues from Crimea (public people heading ethnic associations, including those of Crimean Tatars) also wanted to participate [in the forum], but were unable to do so,” he said.
But the Swiss Embassy failed to issue a visa to Ivan Abazher in time for the event: “I am a member of the Civic Chamber of Russia and the Civic Chamber of Crimea and the head of an ethnic association that will celebrate its 25th anniversary later this year; I find it odd that for the first time in my life they have prevented me from attending an event at an international venue designed for hearing the opinions of all sides.”
“I am confident that the rights of the people of Crimea will be discussed at that forum. From my extensive experience (I have attended UN events and OSCE conferences), I know that the information about Crimea that is presented on such occasions is untrue. To be more precise, we often hear sheer lies and no one opposes the liars because the Crimeans are often deprived of the chance to attend these events. I think that this is absolutely unacceptable. And I ask myself: Does humanity need these events and organizations in their present shape?” he said.
He also noted that the Crimeans were isolated economically and deprived of the freedom of movement, but international organizations were not responding in any meaningful way to this injustice.
“As I see it, the media, both Russian and foreign, should be taking an interest in this. Why are the Crimeans in total isolation? Where is the reaction from international human rights NGOs? Why does the UN take no action, when people invited to its events are deprived of the possibility to attend them?” he asked.
On the same day (November 27), head of the Civic Chamber Commission for the Development of Information Community, Media and Mass Communications Alexander Malkevich
announced that the US Embassy had cancelled his G-2 visa issued to participants in international events: “Obviously, they decided to do this after monitoring my public remarks at the OSCE summit in Warsaw, the Human Rights Council’s meeting in Geneva, OSCE events in Moscow, the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, and the Paris Peace Forum. I always make my remarks openly and criticize the Western practices of regulating freedom of expression.”
“It turns out that debates become inconclusive, if they allow us to attend a Western discussion venue. So, they behave like sulking kids, who sweep chess pieces off the board, and their only argument is to oust a rival,” he said. “It has to be concluded that owing to a lack of expert and well-reasoned answers to our position, they are just trying to ignore or isolate us. But we will not give up and we will continue our struggle. We want the entire world to see that the West is using all means possible to evade honest discussion and open debate.”