Human Rights Abuses in Russian Occupied Crimea

Andrii Klymenko,
Chief Editor, Black Sea News;
Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Maidan of Foreign Affairs

Mark Lagon,
Freedom House

David Kramer,
Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedom,
McCain Institute

John Herbst,
Director, Dinu Patricu Eurasia Center,
Atlantic Council

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.

Time: 9:30 a.m. EDT
Date: Friday, March 6, 2015

Transcript By
Superior Transcriptions LLC

JOHN HERBST: I’d like to thank you all for coming out on this cold, wintry March morning. And you all know we had this scheduled initially for yesterday and put it off for today because of yesterday’s big snowstorm, so I’m sorry for all the – all the complexity. But today’s event is worth your attendance. We have Andrii Klymenko here, a noted scholar from Ukraine, and he’s here to talk about the human rights problems in Crimea.

This program today is part of the Atlantic Council’s Ukraine and Europe Initiative, which we’ve been pursuing for almost a year now or about a year now. This initiative is designed to help Ukraine choose its own future – the Ukrainian people choose their own future, to introduce serious reform, to withstand Kremlin aggression, and to maintain their territorial integrity. And of course, since Mr. Putin seized Crimea almost 12 months ago, his ardent wish is to have the world forget about the peninsula, and now our determination is to make sure that the world does not do that. And so this Atlantic Council and Freedom House together decided to pursue this project, to commission Mr. Klymenko to draft a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine.

You will have three speakers today.

Mr. Klymenko, who is the editor of Black Sea News. He’s also a senior analyst for the Maidan of Foreign Affairs in Kiev. He will speak first, present his report.

After that, Mark Lagon, the president of Freedom House, will speak. Mark is the newly appointed president of Freedom House. Before that, he was the Global Politics and Security Chair at Georgetown University. And before that he was an ambassador at the State Department working on trafficking in persons, as well as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. And Mark and I had some dealings back when I worked at State.

After Mark, David Kramer will speak. David was the president of Freedom House when the Atlantic Council and Freedom House launched this initiative. Prior to that, he was the assistant secretary for human rights at the State Department, as well as a deputy assistant secretary of State in the European Bureau. And I worked with David, as well as with Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, when I was ambassador in Kiev during the Orange Revolution.

And you didn’t come here to listen to me today, you came here to listen to Andrii, so I’d like to invite Andrii up to the podium. Andrii, please.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please make sure your headsets are set to channel two for translation. Thank you.

(Note: Mr. Klymenko’s remarks are made through an interpreter.)

ANDRII KLYMEKNO: Dear colleagues, I think I wouldn’t actually repeat the report which you got, and from the point of view of diplomatic protocol I think the best way of showing my big respect to you would be actually that I would just talk about the main points and save time for your questions after my presentation.

I would like to say that since the first days of the Crimea occupation – and that was the 23rd of February, 2014 and February 27th last year, when we had the seizure of administrative buildings in capital of Administrative Republic of Crimea – so since the first days, Putin and Russia implement a range of technologies. Everything is violating the human rights, all the analysis of the facts that you can see in the report. So you can see – we can see that every technology which is being used by Russia violates not only international law, violates the legal system of Russia.

So we can actually talk about five technologies. The first is the imposing of Russian citizenship and renunciation of Ukrainian citizenship. Secondly, it’s actually expulsion from Crimea disloyal people. The third, well, its absolutely cynical disregard of the rights of native population of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars. Fourth, well, this is sort of know-how: the creation of information ghetto. Fifth, this is – we’re talking about the property rights. And I want to mention that at the time of finishing this report, we were talking about the expropriation of state property of Ukraine on the territory of Crimea. Now, during last two months, after I finished this report, and today, only during those two months, we have more than 300 sites of private property in Crimea being expropriated.

So I will try to comment shortly on all these technologies, but at the same time actually I want us to understand why are we doing this. We’re just – not want just to talk about these facts, we want to understand. And actually I would like to ask you to join, to answer the questions: Why is Putin doing this? What are the real aims of Putin in Crimea? Are those aims only for Crimea? And what can we do to resist?

There is actually a big illusion. There’s still a big illusion that everyone in Crimea always massively supported Russia and being with Russia. The leader of Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, and separate media outlets abroad published the leaks from the FSB about the real quantity of people who took part in referendum in last year. So the fact really is 34 percent. So 34 (percent), not 83 (percent) as was published. So you can understand that if there were no observers at all, if we had just a million of bulletins which were published additionally, when we have actually military troops in Crimea, when we have paramilitary units of Cossacks which were at the polls, so we understand with all those facts it’s easy to put any result. But in reality, the number 34 percent, as we think this is actually the number of so-called separatist potential of Crimea, as it was for last year.

So, imposing Russian citizenship. Eighteenth of March last year, Putin actually announced all of us who, like me, have registration in Crimea, we were all called by Putin citizens of Russia. Forty thousand people left Crimea to other regions of Ukraine. So you will ask me, what’s the point for you? Well, there is a difference for me. So if I would be arrested in Moscow, I wouldn’t be able to call Ukrainian consul because, in their understanding, I am a citizen of Russia. I didn’t give up my Ukrainian passport, but that’s how they think. And today we have five activists who were taken out of Ukraine and sit in prisons in Russia, in FSB, and the Ukrainian consuls and Ukrainian diplomats are not allowed to see them because they are considered to be the citizens of Russia.

As for those people who actually stayed in Crimea, there is a system about which we didn’t even know. People who actually don’t have a Russian passport in Crimea, they’re no one. They can’t even buy a SIM card for their mobile phone because, in Russia, they do it after giving their Russian passport. These people can’t find jobs. They can’t get medical treatment, can’t study and get pensions. They just can’t do anything. At the same time, they also are under this 90-day law when a person – a foreigner can be on the territory of Russia – only 180 days during a year, twice. So imagine the situation. A person was born in Yalta. He has a house in Yalta, children in Yalta, his mother is there. But he would be caught and they will tell him: leave, because you’ve been here 90 days. You have to leave and to get back after that for another 90-days period.

So many people who live in Crimea actually decided to keep their Ukrainian passports. And due to all these circumstances which I will be talking about, so people think, OK, well, we have to get a Russian passport. We have to work somehow to get kids to school. So at that time, actually, it appeared a very interesting name, ausweis, of the passport. This is analogy of the time of the fascist occupation, Second World War. But it turned out that Russia actually passed a law setting criminal penalties for hiding the second citizenship. So this year, when a person has two passports, this person has to talk to the official bodies. If he didn’t let know about that, he will have a fine. But the next step, in 2016, will have situation when there will be no possible to have two passports and people would have to give up their Ukrainian passports. We have so many other problems due to that. The marital and birth certificates, real estate, adoption, all of those issues are connected with those passport problems.

The second technology is expelling disloyal citizens. Well, there is something common in all this approach. For every number of disloyal people, we could see the open abuse towards those people. They were kidnapped. They were beaten. There were searches in their houses, arrests. So today, for each category of disloyal people, there is a technology of expelling from the territory of Ukraine – from Crimea. For example, the journalists and civil activists. So the 9 May law – so-called 9 May law, which was adopted last year, according to this law, if I say in a public place like a store or a bus, if I say that Russia annexed Crimea, it’s an occupant, I can get up to three years in prison. If I’m doing it on air, in an Internet blog, in my own blog, and I have more than 3,000 subscribers, I can get up to five years. This is why, in April, I actually took my editorial staff – on 6 of April, 2014 – and left Crimea. That’s when all staff of independent media left Crimea. And all my correspondents, my friends, all of them are working illegal because they know they can get five years.

So here’s the solution of the whole issue. First, people were beaten, abused, and then Russian adopted a law, 9 May law. Second, the other part of the disloyal population is – that’s parishes or churches other than Russian Orthodox of Moscow Patriarchy. We saw at first setting buildings on fire, demand for new registration. For now they actually told, just before the 1st of March, they had to have a new registration according to Russian law. And of course, the Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchy, Greek Catholic Church, Protestant communities, all these communities didn’t have new registration.

Let’s talk about NGOs. They actually had to be under a special law adopted in Russia concerning the foreign – they all had to leave Crimea.

The teachers of Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history, also were under abuse. So what happened that the faculties of Ukrainian language, Ukrainian history, they were canceled. And of course, these teachers left Crimea because they had no jobs.

As a result, we have the situation when the most active part of civil society left Crimea. Its priests – the priests are actually in the process of departure.

A special part of disloyal population, of course, is Crimean Tatars. The big trouble that these people, they live in compact communities, villages, up to 3(,000) to 5,000. And the guild of Crimean Tatars, if I can say that, is that every Crimean Tatar – representative Crimean Tatar has a very big community and relations with the Crimean Tatar community. So at first Russia tried to get them on their side with the help of the Muslim community chairman of Tatarstan. It didn’t happen. Then the leaders of Crimean Tatars – Dzhemilev, Chubarov – were forced to exile. They actually said –unfortunately they couldn’t be here, and they wanted to be here today too. All of that was done in order to split Crimean Tatar community. That didn’t happen. But still we see the attempts to split self-governing bodies of Mejlis. They’re trying – we can see a lot of threats towards them. And if they would manage to do that, we can predict that the Mejlis would be stopped and we can see future oppressions.

Creating information ghetto. Well, this is absolutely unique situation. You can actually mention this is like a vacuum, and we can see that the only channel which goes there is Russia Today. And really, Russia did everything very simply. They stopped all technical supplies of communication with the rest of Ukraine. The last thing which was done was liquidation of the mobile phone operators, so only international roaming is possible there. Of course, the level of communication among people really decreased. And they also laid cable across the Kerch Strait from Russia. All providers have been re-registered according to Russian law. And according to Russian law, all the Internet bloggers have to keep the history of which websites they have been using without – and they have to give this information to police on the first demand and to show any websites that they were using.

And the final technology, expropriation of property. Well, we know that in Russia the nationalization is being paid. We know that if the government takes the property, it gives the money back. In Crimea, we had not nationalization; we actually had expropriation, and about 400 sites of Ukrainian property were expropriated, and during last two months, we have 300 pieces of private enterprise.

So my question is, why Putin is doing this? If he wants to widen the Russian world, I think he actually – the situation is that in Crimea everything is fine – everything was fine. I think all the time about this question, and I think this – Ambassador Herbst, who actually just started to discussing this issue. Also, if you paid attention that there is a special mark where Crimea is Ukraine, which we can see at the ambassador’s.

So let’s talk about what are the real reasons for the annexation of Crimea. It’s very serious question for all of us, and we all have to think about it. I think this is the aim – this is the problem not only for Ukraine, but for all of us who wants to resist Russian expansionist. For now I have several hypotheses why he’s doing it.

Well, first of all, very fast scale we see that military base in Crimea – not only the deployment of ships; we can see missiles, we can see the expansion of military base. These missiles can actually reach – the missiles – (inaudible) – can actually reach the bases in Romania. We can see that all 11 military airdromes has been restored. They bring new technologies, new military equipment. We think that 100,000 military people will be deployed in Crimea. So that would be one of the biggest military base, in Crimea.

The aim, of course, this Black Sea region to be – have control over Black Sea region. The aim probably is the main leader in the questions of Syria. Probably this is the aim of this, is to get out of the influence of NATO Turkey. Probably we’re talking about Transnistria and other issues, control on all these regions. So we were definitely needing serious analysis on all this, and maybe this will be the further work on the further reports.

And of course, for such military base, what is needed is loyal population. That’s why everyone who’s disloyal, they are being expelled. All of those who have their own opinion should be expelled.

Also, for the region of military base, it’s understandable there would be no investment, no economy development. So 2 ¼ million people on the territory of this military base, these people are actually, you know, out of place. They shouldn’t be there.

One of the other hypotheses, annexation of Crimea is sort of a symbolic challenge which he threw to United States and Britain. Putin annexed the territory where the Yalta peace was announced 70 years ago. This is actually challenge to the United States and Britain, also another meaning. We know about the Budapest Memorandum agreement, and Putin’s actually said, OK, I’m cooler than the United States and Britain; I would be building my anti-Atlantic world. I will be building my own values. And maybe actually in Crimea we have an experiment of building these new values. I told my colleagues that some days ago, in interview to the Izvestia paper, the head of the Russian Committee on International Affairs, Mr. Pushkov, he said that Russia shouldn’t actually run for human rights because these human rights actually not value of Russia.

So what can we do? We think that today, in the civilized world, with the civilized methods, it’s impossible to resolve the situation in Crimea. Why? These people will not be allowed to go to Crimea, and we get less and less information of what’s happening in Crimea. So the only way is to push Russia to go away from Crimea, and we are offering to initiate making a special strategy of de-occupation, to working on it, lobbying. And our organization, Maidan of International Affairs, in December in Kiev showed the first variant on such strategy, the strategy of getting Crimea back. But we understand it’s not much, and we need an international effort for that.

Also, it’s very important to understand we can’t separate Crimea and Donbass in the sanction issues. So this is idea which some European diplomats say about splitting the sanctions on Crimea, on Donbass, it’s very bad because this is actually answers what Putin wants, to freeze the conflict on Donbass and to forget about Crimea. I would say that Crimea, for the world, is more important than Donbass, if we’re talking about long-scale development. Crimea is the first annexation since the Second World War, and if we close our eyes on that it means that every person in the world can do anything in the world. We had the situation when the world already closed its eyes on such situation in the 1930s.

Well, just in spite of such a sad ending, all of us and all of us in Ukraine, we actually have optimism and different level of optimism. We really believe that this issue can be solved. We believe that today in the world – we actually see the coalition of countries where many, many people say that the violation of human rights is a very serious issue and we wouldn’t keep what Putin says. (Applause.)

MARK LAGON: Well, I’m very thankful to the Atlantic Council for their partnership with Freedom House, something that my esteemed predecessor, David Kramer, helped cook up with the Atlantic Council. It’s a pleasure to speak after Mr. Klymenko about this situation.

From the point of view of Freedom House, we are very happy to be working with John Herbst about this place where geopolitical issues and issues of human rights come together. But let me stress some larger points that relate to human rights, unsurprising as a focus from Freedom House.

But the actions by Russia in Crimea, not only at the key point of events in February to March of last year but since and currently today, are really quite crucial in terms of the free flow of information. There’s a campaign by Russia to suffuse the entire region in Europe with its view, and this report indicates a very tight grip on information. It’s possible to make outrageous claims about what people think among the population of Crimea, what actually happened, if you control the information and environment. This report focuses quite clearly on both how an information environment is controlled by Russia, and since then their very harsh limitations on how the media, how those who would use the public square, those who use social media can be able to operate.

More broadly, what we see here in Crimea connects to larger lessons we at Freedom House, as a partner of the Atlantic Council, are seeing. In our own annual Freedom in the World Report, recently released, we see a more brazen use of coercive tactics by some of the autocratic powers of the world and by Putin. There is less of a language of using democracy, false trappings of democracy, more direct coercion, and we are quite concerned about the implications elsewhere. At our breakfast before here and talking with Andrii Klymenko, there are – it’s quite important that we not let what happened in Crimea stand – the West, the civilized world, the democratic world – lest it encourage Putin and others to make bald steps both violative of sovereignty and of human rights. We need to speak truth.

There’s a playbook here. Putin has been using it in Georgia, in Moldova, when one sees the policy towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is not new; this is just even more brazen. We must in particular focus on how those – for instance, Ukraine as a whole – would like to build connections with Western institutions. And while we should not only make sure that what happened in Crimea is not forgotten and sort of set aside – “Ah, well, Putin will be satisfied with that” – we need to focus on the bigger picture that Ukraine needs to be a success economically, politically, and there’s a big stake in that. We cannot think that Crimea will satisfy Putin.

And we should make sure never to think that to stand for freedom, to stand for freedom of the press, to stand for human rights is a provocative act. To suggest that Ukraine, I mean, should be associated with Western institutions, it is a calamitous calumny to suggest that that is provocative. What Putin has done is provocative, and I’d just note that it’s quite worthwhile having had a report that focuses on the human rights aspects on top of the brazen military occupation that this whole affair represents.

Thank you. (Applause.)

DAVID KRAMER: Thanks very much. And my apologies for being late. As a Bostonian, I would be embarrassed to say it was the snow, and it wasn’t. (Laughter.) It was much worse; it was a dentist appointment. And those of you who know me, the last place I want to be is in the dentist’s chair. But I’m very glad to join you a little late.

My thanks to John and Damon and the Atlantic Council for not just the support on this project with Mark Lagon and Freedom House, but the tremendous work you’ve been doing on Ukraine overall, Ukraine and Europe, just outstanding work. So my thanks to you.

And Freedom House, of course, where my heart still is very much, I’m very glad to see Mark in this position.

And Andrii, to you sincere thanks for producing a first-rate report that brings attention to a much-needed issue that all too often is forgotten, including in both Minsk agreements. There is no mention of Crimea in either Minsk agreement, and it’s critically important that we not forget that this situation didn’t start with Crimea – and I’ll say why – but it certainly is a key part of this crisis.

And in fact, it didn’t start with Crimea. This started long before with Putin’s aversion to any neighbor’s efforts to move toward the West, to integrate more closely with Europe, to democratize, to root out corruption, to respect human rights. Anything like that along Russia’s borders was viewed by Putin as a major threat. And when Ukraine was intent on signing the Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, for Putin that was a step too far. And he pressured Yanukovych, who sadly was all too willing to play along, not to sign the agreement, and we all know what that then triggered.

The move into Crimea in February of last year was certainly a terrible blow to many things that we all stand for, not least respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and then the imposition of a regime that has demonstrated no respect for the human rights of the people who live in Crimea. This has been sadly, as I say, a largely forgotten part of the problem, and it’s very important that this report highlight the situation there.

I visited Crimea only once, in 2010 as part of a German Marshall Fund delegation around the first round of the presidential election. Went to Simferopol and Sevastopol, and I have to say I saw little to no evidence of any separatist tendency among people living in Crimea. The people they were complaining about were Yuri Luzhkov and his wife, who were building lousy apartment buildings in Crimea. But I didn’t hear anyone say they wanted a breakaway from Ukraine, and that was 2010. And Andrii cites the various surveys, more recently 2011, the Razumkov Center and others, that showed no interest really to speak of of any separatist movement in Crimea, which gets at the root of the issue not just in Crimea but in eastern Ukraine, which is this is Russian-fomented. There wasn’t a separatist movement in Donetsk or Luhansk. It’s only because Russia has tried to gin one up that we see the terrible situation now.

We’ve seen recently Foreign Minister Klimkin say in Japan, of all places, that Ukraine would not normalize relations with Russia as long as there was no return to the status quo that included reestablishing Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea. On March 2nd in Geneva, Secretary of State Kerry spoke at the U.N. Human Rights Council, in which he said, “In Crimea and in the separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, men, women and children are being killed. They’re being tortured, they’re being raped and sexually assaulted, detained arbitrarily, abducted for ransom, forced into labor, prosecuted and persecuted because of who they are and where they worship.” “It is up to the Human Rights Council,” Secretary Kerry said, “to shed light on it and to hold accountable those who violate those human rights.” Well, yes, the Human Rights Council has a role to play, but so do we. And in fact, we cannot simply pawn this off onto the Human Rights Council and absolve ourselves of our own responsibility with this.

General Breedlove, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, coming to the point you made about Crimea’s importance to Russia in a military sense, said, “What we have seen is that Crimea’s been transformed in some fairly significant ways as far as weapons systems in Crimea. These weapons systems, from air defense systems that reach nearly half of the Black Sea to surface attack systems that reach almost all of the Black Sea area, have made the platform of Crimea a great platform for power projection in this area.” So it is a military problem, as well as a human rights problem, as well as a problem about sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as about Russian aggression, which, as Andrii and Mark have both said, it won’t stop here if it is not stopped.

So let me just close by saying it is critically important, obviously, for the international community, for the United States, for Europe, for Canada and others to work together to help Ukraine economically and financially. We have been far too slow in doing so, in my view. Ukraine is on the verge of a meltdown, and we are standing back waiting for normal processes to take place. We can’t afford to do that.

I would also argue it is critically important to help Ukraine militarily as well, to help the country defend itself against further Russian aggression and attack, and to do everything we can to ensure that Ukraine is able to join the Euro-Atlantic community, as so many of its people want to do.

Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. HERBST: OK, we’re now going to have a moderated discussion. I’ll take the opportunity of the chair to ask one or maybe two questions and then turn it over to the audience to ask questions.

The crisis in Ukraine is very much a crisis of Mr. Putin’s revisionism. He has stated that he has the right and the duty to protect Russian speakers wherever they are. He has stated that he has – he needs a sphere of influence throughout the post-Soviet space. And besides saying these things, he has used his military to change borders in Georgia and now in Ukraine. Crimea is the second time in the last six years we have seen Mr. Putin use his military to take control over another country’s borders, upsetting the post-Cold War order established in 1989-1990.

My question is for any of the panelists. What do you see as necessary for the West to do to stop Mr. Putin in Crimea and beyond Crimea? David, do you want to take – go ahead.

MR. KRAMER: I mean, with Crimea, I think we have to look at the absorption of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union and understand that we never recognized their absorption into the Soviet Union. It took decades for those countries to regain their freedom, to then join NATO and the EU. And I would argue, however long it takes, we have to obviously not recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia, but keep the sanctions in place.

And here I agree with Andrii; I think he made a very important point. It would be a mistake, in my view, to differentiate the sanctions, even though the sanctions have been done in different iterations. It would be a mistake to lift the sanctions as long as Russia controls any part of Ukrainian territory, and I would include Crimea. It is not just about the Donbass, Donetsk and Luhansk. It is about Crimea, too. If we don’t recognize the annexation, then we should keep the sanctions in place until Russia gets out of Crimea. So I think it’s – it may take a while. We just have to do it as long as it takes.

MR. HERBST: All right, thank you.

Mark, do you want to –

MR. LAGON: Just to say the obvious and to repeat myself from earlier, to have the idea that somehow it’s the best policy for stability and realpolitik to just accept as a fait accompli what’s happened in Crimea, that’s only going to invite more real instability and threats to human rights.

MR. HERBST: Andrii, do you want to add anything to this?

MR. KLYMENKO: Sooner or later, we’re going to come to this creation of anti-Putin coalition, sooner or later. We can define it differently. We can say anti-imperial, anti-totalitarian, but I think that we’re going to get to that. And if we have the mutual feeling that we actually eventually come to creating this coalition, I think all of us have to start thinking seriously about it.

Secondly, if we talk about annexation which happened recently, let’s remember how the annexation of the British Isles was happening. Let’s remember how the annexation of Kuwait was happening. We had also creation of coalition. So I think that sooner or later, maybe not for military coalition, but we can come to serious coalition. We should work on sanctions because definitely Putin won’t stop.

MR. HERBST: All right. Why don’t we turn this over to the audience? Questions? George, you had a question from the last session. Do you want to take it up here? Oh.

Q: (Off mic.) I have a question about you were talking about that Russia expropriated –

MS. : Is it on?

(Off-mic consultations.)

Q: You were talking about expropriation process.

MR. HERBST: Please identify yourself so everyone knows who you are.

Q: Oh. Miroslava Gongadze, Voice of America.

Andrii was talking about expropriation of properties, Ukrainian properties in Crimea. What is the amount of – how would you assess the amount of expropriation? Or how much money all cost, a value, the value of that expropriation? Thank you.

MR. KLYMENKO: Money part. Today we have the information that in Crimea, 270 sites of private property and more 30 sites have been expropriated just in Sevastopol. I want you to understand that actually it’s not just the kiosks which sell, you know, ice cream on the streets. We’re talking about property of all mobile providers. It’s the factories, the baking factories. We’re talking about energy companies which supplied different types of energy to the region of Crimea. For example, it’s all of – we’re talking about transport sites and so on. So it’s very serious property which values in a lot of money. It’s also the factory which actually belonged to former president of Ukraine. So I think we’re talking about billions of dollars.

Q: I’d like to add, Mr. Klymenko, to that list, and to say, when thinking about what was the value of the expropriated assets, one also has to include things like roads, infrastructure of all sorts, electrical transmission lines, water lines, sewer lines, military bases, natural resources in the ground, whether it’s rocks, minerals or whatever. I mean, everything that was stolen has to be counted. And I would suggest that the number is not in the billions, but it’s in the hundreds of billions. Just the hydrocarbons themselves in the territorial offshore waters of Crimea are in excess of $100 billion. And I would suggest that that’s something that should be pursued very aggressively in courts. The shareholders of Yukos won a $50 billion judgment just on the property that was expropriated from them with respect to Yukos. Here we’re talking about a lot more property. And I think it’s a front that should be pursued very aggressively against Russia because it’s very tangible.

MR. KLYMENKO: What I want to say, I absolutely agree with your opinion. I’m trying to find the ways how actually to do it, because I think that without getting to work on this issue international structures, we wouldn’t be able to do it on our own. We have to talk about fair consulting firms who actually can value the price of all that. And another factor is the price of businesses, the losses which businesses had. And so we really have to talk to high-level professionals on these estimates. So definitely we’re talking about a trillion dollars and more.

MR. KRAMER: I would just say in addition to people to assess the value, you need good lawyers. (Laughter.) And in the diaspora community, I’m sure there are people who would donate their time to take this case to the European Court for Human Rights. And I think the sooner it’s done, the better, so that Russia understands that on every front they are facing pushback on their efforts to take over.

MR. HERBST: I would add one more point to this. It’s important that the United States and Europe ensure that they have the laws in place so that Ukraine – both the government and Ukrainian citizens can seek justice, commercial justice, for expropriated assets. And this is something that people who are supporting Ukraine should make sure is in place.

OK, other questions? Over here. Please identify –

Q: John Kunstadter, Radzima Photo.

Mr. Klymenko, thank you very much, “Дуже дякую,” for your outstanding report. I’d like to ask a question about information response to the Russian disinformation, but permit me to add a footnote to David Kramer’s very on-the-mark remarks. In 1993, when then-Moscow Mayor Luzhkov talked about expelling people of Caucasian origin from Moscow; in 1995, when then-Foreign Minister Kozyrev used the same Nuremberg language that Putin used last year to talk about the so-called Russian right over its so-called compatriots in Estonia, there were crickets in Washington and in Western Europe. So this goes back way beyond 2007-2008 with Putin’s speeches in Munich and Bucharest. It’s a longstanding problem and we’re seeing the results.

My question is, when major Western media – and I have in mind CNN, BBC, New York Times, the major American channels, but also major Western press – mistakes what it thinks is fairness for objectivity and just transliterates the disinformation coming out of Moscow in order to so-called balance its reporting, what do the four members of the panel suggest is the best way forward to try to get the press, the media – I’m not talking about bloggers; there are plenty of very good ones – to understand the price we’ve already paid and the danger ahead? Thank you.

MR. HERBST: Mark, you want to – (inaudible)?

MR. LAGON: If I may, I think that we need to think about reconstituting a capacity in the West for broadcasting and media. Some people consider it entirely passé to have things like Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, old-school, we can rely on the private sector. We need to have a concerted effort to have public-sector messaging about the truth, and then we need to make sure that that diminution of space for objectivity in the media that was used by Putin in the case of Ukraine and Crimea does not seep more widely.

Next week I’m going to Vilnius, to the 25th anniversary celebrations of that former captive nation’s independence from being under the Soviet thumb. They are deeply worried – they are, as are others – about a dominant media messaging capacity from Russia. We need to counter that with hardware, the broadcasting means, and we need to counter that with a software mentality that information is vital for preventing future Crimeas.

MR. KLYMENKO: Yeah, I would like to mention about two aspects on that.

First of all, technology issues, and it’s actually very simple. Let’s make a flash mob appealing to all TV companies, big media outlets, with one question: Do you have your actual office in Kiev? And Miroslava says that I am actually right. It will turn out that all offices of these international media are in Moscow, and in Kiev they come from Moscow. It means a lot. It’s a very serious issue. So let’s try to solve it because Kiev is actually – is the center when the world politics is done, so it’s absolutely necessary that all the international media has its officers in Kiev.

Secondly, I heard that in the West they talk that it’s not only propaganda, that we are having a very serious, actually an information whip of mass destruction. I think that the specialists in the media issues have very quickly learn about this. They have to analyze how it affects people.

Then I asked my friends, social psychologists and psychiatrists, about this situation in Crimea, about this vacuum. For example, we will send there a person who has pro-Ukrainian views. How much time will he need to change his views, being there? So this psychiatrist told me only three and four months are needed for such a person to change his views. We’re not talking about Crimean Tatars. So what’s my point is this Russian propaganda will actually dominate Western minds, and if they have their propaganda information weapon they will win. So the freedom of the word wouldn’t really work. We really have to define where is the military propaganda.

MR. HERBST: There’s one more element I think it’s worth noting. The West as a whole – more the United States, but the West as a whole has been very slow in understanding the challenge that Mr. Putin is casting down. And we’re still operating somewhat under the old, comfortable paradigm that Moscow can and should be a partner for the West. This is reflected in government policy. It’s reflected in elite circles. It’s reflected in the media. For that reason, the government has been slow – the United States government, as well as European governments – to clearly identify what is happening. This is evident, for example, when the Obama administration refuses to call what Moscow is doing in Ukraine an invasion. They use the old Nixon word “incursion,” which he used to describe his operation in Cambodia. And in fact, correspondents for elite publications have said to me, we partly take our leads from what Western governments are saying.

But the West is slowly waking up to the fact that, in fact, the greatest national security challenge on the planet today is not that ragtag bunch of terrorists, ISIS, but the Kremlin – the Kremlin pursuing revanchist policies. But you might say it’s important for us to encourage both Western governments and Western media to speed up their understanding because the Ukrainian people are paying very heavily the price for this slowness of perception.

MR. KRAMER: And I think when we look at the propaganda, we have to think of four targets, four audiences.

One is the United States, where I would say their efforts have failed. If you look at the recent Gallup poll that came out, the mood and attitude toward Putin and toward Russia is very low. And if you – just look at the U.S. Congress, which has been tremendous, actually, in support of Ukraine and very, very critical and harsh on Russia.

Then you take Europe, where Marine Le Pen’s party takes $10 million from Putin and actually pays not only no price, but actually goes up in the polls. I don’t understand that. And so we have to figure out how to get the Europeans to understand that Russian money is corrupting their systems.

The third one is the countries along Russia’s borders, where I think it is a major concern, particularly with some ethnic Russian populations. But I don’t want to overstate it because, as we’ve seen in Ukraine – and in part thanks to Putin, Ukraine is more united now than it’s ever been.

Last audience is Russians themselves, and here I’m very depressed. If you look at the surveys about the West and the United States, it is a very gloomy picture. And moreover, the demonization of both opponents inside Russia – and we saw what happened with Boris Nemtsov’s assassination a week ago – or of the West means that some Russians might take it into their own hands to do something about it, and it becomes not just a propaganda issue, not just an information war, it can become a security problem.

So I completely agree with my colleagues here. We need to wake up to this much more.

The last point, though, is, at the end of the day, it’s the regime that’s using it. Information is a means. It’s the people, as John said, sitting in the Kremlin that are – that are a threat to us, and we do have to recognize and deal with that in a much more serious way.

Q: Thank you so much for your presentation, Mr. Klymenko. It’s an amazing work. Ivanna Bilych, general counsel for Razom.

And my question actually is much deeper with respect to security and information war. Don’t you think that the system that we put in place after the World War Second has been total dismantled? And I’m not talking even about the Budapest Memorandum; I’m talking about the Helsinki Final Act, I’m talking about the U.N. Charter. We have a P-5 member that actually can veto everything that the Security Council decides to do. So this – Russia basically just ruined everything that we worked so hard for, and now there are no rules, there are no norms that we should go by. I mean, it’s very confusing for countries and very unstable countries, not – and countries that actually pose a great risk and security issues to the United States and to the West. So what’s your take with respect to Ukraine and fighting this in the international arena, and trying to actually get some answers, and being unable to do this because the system doesn’t work anymore, again, because Russia has total dismantled the existing system?

And the second question is about the Russia’s role with respect to even pressuring China not to pay for $14 million to Ukraine for the contacts they had with China and actually paying those $14 million to Russia with respect to some shipping contracts. Where do we stand with that? This is a brutal violation of international law, of contracts, of everything we know, everything we’ve been starting and trying to build so hard.

And one more thing. (Laughter.) Our organization is coming out with a report on Crimea as well with an actual manual for the people on the ground. And Mr. Klymenko is correct, there is – there are no rules on how we should proceed. But we tried to develop the manual for the people on the ground that might be useful for them. Thank you.

MR. LAGON: That was a very effective set of three things you raised – (laughter) – all important. I will only answer one, not to be greedy.

On the first one, I know this will be controversial to say, but if we think of the architecture of the world today and sort of institutions of liberal norms, where security and freedom are tied together, Europe does matter a great deal. There is an epicenter of the most established norms in terms of security, in terms of freedom, and that is in fact in Europe. And so this matters a great deal, what you’re saying in your first point. The brazen seizure of territory and then the implications for political freedom are crucial. If we cannot get it right in Europe, how can we hope to get it right globally?

MR. HERBST: Andrii?

MR. KLYMENKO: I want to talk about international organizations. I am an engineer with my education, and I am confident that if some system is not working we actually have to fix it or to change it for a new one. So if the United Nations, let’s have an example, has to be fixed, meaning – we need to change the situation when the veto right of Russia makes no use of this organization. So if we can’t change something like that, we need to think of a new format, so the new organizations. And have to think that Russia wasn’t actually invited to be in the U.N., but it’s more like a joke.

As for China, I’m not a specialist on that, but I don’t think that China would go against the whole international community and will not go against United States.

MR. KRAMER: The only thing I would add is, I mean, your comment at the beginning is absolutely right. That’s why, as John said, this is the biggest threat we face. It’s why, whatever word you use – pivot, rebalance to Asia – is an enormous mistake because if you go pivot to something, you’re pivoting also from something, and it gave the impression that the United States was pivoting away from Europe. And as Mark said, we can’t afford to do that.

And Russia much more than China, I would say, views democracy and aspirations of people to live in a rule-of-law-based society as a threat. China’s willing to work with authoritarian regimes. It’ll also work with democracies. Russia much prefers authoritarian regimes along its borders, and in fact will do whatever it can and is necessary to sustain authoritarian regimes, because those are the ones it’s most comfortable with. That’s what it is, after all. And so that’s why I think Russia is, right now, a bigger threat than China is.

MR. HERBST: I would add – oh –

MR. LAGON: Let me – let me just say my dear friend and I don’t entirely agree on that, and I just want to say that, from Freedom House’s perspective, I think there is a significant concern beyond ISIS and Russia as a third center of pushing for, you know, an illiberal new order in China. That’s my own view.

MR. HERBST: OK. I would just add one specific point. I don’t think you have to worry about China in this context because they will do what’s in their own interest, and their own interest is to sell as much as what they can and buy as much as what they need, wherever the source. And Mr. Putin’s bad not just Ukraine, but also for Russia, as evidenced by his willingness to sell gas cheaper to China than to Europe as a way of somehow getting back at Ukraine. And China will take full advantage of this.

OK, we have a question over here.

Q: Yes. My name is Davinca Lupa (ph). I have a question that’s sort of practical and military.

We have the impression that the world has forgotten Crimea, so I’d like to know, does anyone know what it takes for a Westerner to actually visit Crimea? Does one have to now apply for a visa to Russia? How complicated is it? I know it’s very difficult for Ukrainian nationals to cross the border. So that’s one question. And I also think that, you know, one of the ways that you close off an entire territory is by not visiting it, so I think that it would – you know, we should just maybe en masse go and vacation in Crimea this summer so we can really find out what’s going on. (Laughs.)

My other question is about military and in particular nuclear weapons in Crimea. A good friend of mine from Kiev, who’s very prescient, he said, if Russia occupies Crimea, we’ll have nuclear weapons there within six months. Do we have a picture of that in any way, shape or form? What’s really happening on that front? Thank you.

MR. KLYMENKO: I will start. We’ll start from the nuclear issue.

Well, the nuclear – our information – first of all, the whole military aspect of this is very serious. In Crimea, we have from the Soviet times the base of keeping the nuclear weapons, and I actually had the chance to be there myself. So it’s a very serious object, and it’s still there.

So when Russia actually rebased – launched two big units to Crimea, they used this chance to bring also the nuclear supplies as well. So it’s there – it’s right there now.

The second, the military topic is absolutely unprecedented. What they do there, it’s unprecedented. They bring their new technologies, new military supplies, a lot of military units. So this s a very serious issue, and it actually changes the weight of the global world.

The second issue, how to come there? Ukraine says that foreign people can go on the occupied territory through Ukraine with a special document. And the foreign people, of course, they can technically go. They can go through Moscow, through Krasnodar. They can fly. But they have to realize that then Ukraine will look at them as those who advance the regime of the occupied territory, and the next time, if they want to deal with Ukraine – so Ukrainian officials can say, well, we’ll remember that.

From the point of view of tourism, of course, we think that there should be real economic blockade there. And we’re working now, and me personally and my group, we are monitoring what happens with the ships which come in the Black Sea, Russian flights, and we really support that main tourist companies of the world – American tourist companies actually stopped cooperation with Crimea after the resolution of 22nd of March.

MR. HERBST: I would add one thing to this. I think it’s important for people to be paying attention to Western organizations or companies that are doing business in Crimea. It will be very useful – for example, there are – there are cruise ships, not nearly as many, but are still landing in Sevastopol. Someone should be keeping track and someone should be leveling suit against them to make sure that Ukraine or Ukrainian owners of property in Sevastopol and elsewhere get the advantage of the visit of those trips – of those ships to Sevastopol.

There was a report of a couple of months ago that the Mrs. America pageant was going to be held in Sevastopol next summer. Someone should be – an attorney should be in touch with them to notify, to ask for the payment to Ukrainian authorities and Ukrainian companies whose assets are being used.

MR. KRAMER: And there was also – I can’t remember his name – a French businessman who wanted to open a theme park in Crimea, who’s a strong supporter of Putin. I mean, he should also be added to the sanctions list, in my view.

MR. HERBST: And if any American actors want to conduct – shoot films there, they should also be put on notice.

Oops, over here.

Q: Sharyn Bovat, Voice of a Moderate.

Quick question. I was at the Armed Services Committee where Senator McCain was drilling General Dempsey about Ukraine, saying we should do more, we should be giving weapons, we should be doing a lot more. And then I talked to a French professor and he basically said that Ukraine is buying oil from the EU that they’re buying from Russia. And I think that the moderate point of view would be resolution with energy, more of a(n) all-inclusive. And when I look at the media, with the gentleman talking about the bloggers, a lot of the mainstream media has not reported this because they fear retaliation from these big companies. And I believe the former German chancellor, I guess, is now on the payroll of Putin. People are lobbyists. So there’s a big issue here, and is war really the only way to go? Is there a way to have an international communications type of agenda that we can get these bloggers to be able to keep blogging and expose these things?

MR. KLYMENKO: So I would want to tell you, actually, many years ago we were the ones who said that the Black Sea region and the danger of this region is that actually the new routes of transit of the – (inaudible) – and gas from Caspian Sea through Caucasus, Turkey to Europe. And we can mention South Stream, which had to go through Krasnodar region of Russia, through Black Sea to Bulgaria, and now it will be not coming to Bulgaria, turning to Turkey.

So this is very dangerous. Why? Because the pipe, the gas pipe from Caspian Sea to Caucasus toward Turkey is actually going through the Caucasus, and I – if I would be Putin, I would actually activate this conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Karabakh in order to give – to stop this route. So there is a real pipe war and it defines a lot of things, but there are many publications on this issue if you want to read them. If you think that there are not enough of them, maybe we have to do more on that issue.

Q: I guess as a follow up to that – my name is Irene Stevenson and I’m with Conflict Risk Network, and we’re currently trying to map out corporations who are active in occupied countries, and specifically one of the two countries we’re looking at is Crimea.

And that leads me to the question, which follows on what my neighbor asked, and that has to do with business. Oil companies are pretty well known for losing a lot of money on a roll of the dice in Russia. BP has been sent packing several times in terms of billions of dollars and they still keep coming back because there’s so much to get. You all in Crimea, there’s no question there was a lot of pressure to start exploring some of the fields that are right off the coast. And I think that there’s going to be a lot of pressure from U.S. and European oil companies who have the technical expertise and the technical equipment that the Russian companies actually use when they’re exploring in the far north in Russia, and it’s – that’s one of our expertises that we bring to the oil field. And so I’m wondering what we are doing as a community to keep the pressure on those oil companies so they don’t lobby to get rid of the sanctions.

MR. HERBST: David, you want to try that?

MR. KRAMER: Well, to some extent the sanctions have taken care of that, as I think you indicated, where exploring in new fields is now prohibited. The administration weighed in heavily with the energy sector, discouraging them from engaging in any new deals. Exxon, however, is still very much active in Russia. BP you mentioned; they’ve just hired John Browne, again, a former head of BP, and so, you know – and Dudley, Robert Dudley, has had his own experiences with Russia. These people just don’t seem to learn.

So my view is that companies engage in business in Russia at their own risk, and when they run into trouble we should remind them they shouldn’t come crying to the United States government for help. If they want to do business in a place like Russia, I wish them well because it’s not in our interest for those companies to do badly, but they do business in a place like that at their own peril as far as I’m concerned.

In terms of development off Crimea, it would be sanctioned from everything I can tell.

Q: If we keep the sanctions. They’re lobbying to –

MR. KRAMER: The president just extended the sanctions through the end of the year. The concern is less the sanctions here than it is in Europe. But the extraterritorial nature of U.S. sanctions, I think, can address that. So the key will be to make sure that we keep the sanctions in place, not just through the end of this year but well beyond until all of Crimean territory is returned, until reparations are paid, and that of course includes Crimea.

MR. HERBST: Well, it’s 11:00, so I think it’s time for us to shut down. But before I – does Andrii want to make a last comment?

MR. KLYMENKO: As an economic expert, I would actually – a free consultation for you. Forget about your Russian contracts. Forget, because the global trend – the analogy could be the following. Hitler seized Czech Republic, and at that time, for example, some English firm says, well, we have our business there, we were working there, so what should we do in this occupied territory? The world – when the war is – the ghost of the war is in front of your business, has to understand at first the threat of the war. Otherwise, the time will come when all of your projects, business plans, they actually become nothing in the face of the loss of the territories and others. So I think business has to understand the seriousness of the global situation.

MR. HERBST: OK. Thank you all very much for coming. (Applause.)