Illustration: one of the exhibition photos by Aliona Savchuk
The open-air photo exhibition "Stories from the Occupied Crimea" will be open on 18-25 May. The opening of the exhibition will take place on May 18 at 7 p.m. on Lukishki Square (Lukiškių aikštė).
The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, the Human Rights House Crimea, and the Human Rights Center #ZMINA will show a photo exhibition of 22 photos, taken by the Ukrainian reporters Alina Smutko, Taras Ibragimov, and Aliona Savchuk, who in 2014-2019 documented the lives of families of the political prisoners in the occupied Crimea and told the public about human rights violations, committed by Russia.
"Stories from the Occupied Crimea" is a unique chronicle of life on the peninsula, annexed by Russia, and evidence of political persecution of Ukrainian citizens; in particular, of the Crimean Tatars.
Large-scale repressions of dissidents in Crimea began immediately after the occupation of the peninsula by Russia in March 2014. The invaders began persecuting Crimean Tatars and local activists for their pro-Ukrainian views. According to the information of the Ukrainian creators of the exhibition, more than 140 people, most of them Crimean Tatars, have been arrested in Crimea for political reasons. During the occupation, 43 Ukrainian activists were kidnapped, 11 of them are still considered missing, and one person remains in custody. Today, repressions against the Crimean Tatars continue.
The public opening of the exhibition will take place on 18 May, at 7 p.m. on Lukishki Square (Lukiškių aikštė). The chosen date is not accidental: on 18-20 May, 1944, on Stalin’s order, more than 190 000 people were forcibly deported from Crimea to Central Asia, Siberia, and the Urals. This day went down in history as the date of the Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Crimean Tatar genocide.
About the authors
Photojournalist Alina Smutko worked in occupied Crimea for three years, documenting the suffering of political prisoners. Her camera recorded the lives of families, often families with many children, who were left without breadwinners after the mass arrests. She started the project in 2016. In the winter of 2019, she was declared persona non grata and banned from entering Crimea and Russia for ten years.
Ukrainian photographer and journalist Taras Ibragimov worked in occupied Crimea for many years. He reported on and covered trials of Crimean political prisoners for various media outlets and CrimeaSOS NGO. In 2019, Russian border guards banned Taras Ibragimov from entering the Crimean Peninsula for 35 years.
Aliona Savchuk is a Ukrainian reporter, who during 2016-2018 covered trials of Ukrainian political prisoners in occupied Crimea, until she was banned from entering the peninsula and the territory of Russia by the FSB for 10 years. The official justification was to "ensure defense capability or security of the state, or public order, or protect health of the population."