VILNIUS –The international community must step up pressure on Russia over its annexation of Crimea and human rights violations in the peninsula, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Friday.
What is particularly worrying is Russia's policy of relocating colonists to the peninsula, the persistent persecution of Crimean Tatars, politically motivated trials, media restrictions and school closures, according to the president.
"Russia must be held accountable for the atrocities committed in occupied Crimea and other territories," Nauseda said after hosting Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Mejlis, a self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, in Vilnius.
"The turning of the peninsula into a military training ground and the disregard for human rights are totally unacceptable," he said. "The international community must increase pressure on Russia on this issue."
Lithuania does not recognize the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and plans to continue raising this issue in international organizations, according to Nauseda.
Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, a move condemned by many countries around the world.
The annexation was broadly supported by ethnic Russians, who make up the majority of Crimea's population of 2.3 million, but was opposed by Crimean Tatars, who accounted for almost 15 percent.
Some 30,000 Crimean Tatars have left the peninsula since 2014.
Russian authorities have cracked down on the remaining Tatars, banning the Mejlis and some religious groups.