By Ena Cefo
Since the Russian occupation of Crimea began in February 2014, the U.N.’s monitoring mission and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe identified numerous human rights violations: abductions, unlawful detentions, and forced disappearances. Over the past year, human rights on the peninsula have deteriorated further and Human Rights Watch documented extensive intimidation and harassment of occupation criticizers, Crimean Tatars, activists and journalists. Crimean residents were forced to take up Russian citizenship; minorities or others who refused to become Russian citizens lost the right to continue residing on the peninsula, the right to free medical care, the right to register property and the right to be admitted to school or work. Acknowledging the continuing demise of minority rights during the past year, on March 16th, 2015, the U.S. Department of State called on Russia to end the brutalities and announced its intentions to continue the U.S.-imposed sanctions until Russia withdraws from the occupation.