Crimea: Reported attempts to remove passports
Civic activists in the Crimea report that unidentified individuals are going around flats asking to see people’s passports and then ripping them up. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people say that they have received a huge number of such reports, however do not yet have personal evidence from specific individuals whose passports were taken away. They therefore warn against panic-mongering while promising that they will respond immediately to any such cases.
Radio Svoboda reports that the Simferopol Mayor’s Office has confirmed receiving phone calls from people who have had such visits.
They say that the strangers claim to be members of electoral commissions checking the voter lists for the so-called referendum on March 16. They ask to check people’s passports (the internal document), and once they have them in their hands either disappear with them or rip them, so that they can’t be used.
A particular concern at present is the requirement imposed a year or so ago, despite protest from human rights organizations, to present identification when buying railway tickets. Some people only have their internal passport, and with the present situation in the Crimea so worrying, any fear that they would not be able to leave is an additional cause for anxiety.