Statement by Ambassador Ivan Soltanovsky, Permanent Representative of Russia to the Council of Europe on the ongoing water blockade of Crimea by Ukraine

After reunification of Crimea with Russia in 2014 the Ukrainian authorities completely cut the North Crimean canal which was the main source of freshwater for Crimea’s population numbering over 2 million, including half a million of Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. This canal provided for 85% of the needs of the Crimean people in clean and safe drinking water. Such a deliberate water blockade is unprecedented in Europe. It resulted in devastation of water storage facilities, cuts to the water supplies of towns and regions, salinization of soils, posed a real threat to lives and health of the Peninsula’s population as well as to the ecology of South-Eastern Europe.

The United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 64/292 recognised the human right to water and sanitation, and acknowledged that clean water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

We would like to recall that the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide counts deliberate deprivation of a group’s access to water among genocidal acts.
The European Court of Human Rights considers denial of access to drinking water as a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. The Committee on Prevention of Torture also condemns the denial of water.

The denial of water to the people of Crimean is also a form of collective punishment for political dissent, which falls squarely under the definition of discrimination prohibited by Article 14 of the European Convention and its Protocol 12.

Ukraine also stands in violation of the UN Water Convention and other treaties.

We remember numerous aggressive attacks against former Secretary General Mr. Jagland regarding the mission of his Special Representative to Crimea Mr. Studman who proposed in 2016 a visit of international experts for assessing the consequences of the water blockade of Crimea by Ukraine. In our view, this proposal is more pertinent than ever.

We urge the Council of Europe, in accordance with its role as guarantor of human rights, to address this outrageous attack by Ukraine on the basic right of millions of innocent people.