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UN Committee Condemns Russian Occupation of Crimea

FILE - Russian navy ships and helicopters take a part in a landing operation during military drills at Crimea's Black Sea coast.

A United Nations committee approved a draft resolution Tuesday condemning Russia's occupation of Crimea and reiterating that it does not accept Russian annexation from Ukraine.

The measure passed by a vote of 73-23 with 76 abstentions. It is expected to pass in the full U.N. General Assembly next month.

The text calls on Russia to uphold its international obligations as an occupying power, to take all steps necessary to immediately end abuses against residents in Crimea, to immediately release all those who were unlawfully detained, and ensure unimpeded access for human rights monitoring missions and workers.

Russian Foreign Ministry official Anatoly Viktorov rejected the draft as one-sided and politically motivated.

"It completely ignores the negative impact that the actions of Ukrainian authorities have had on the residents of Crimea," he said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said the rights abuses in Crimea "have been truly shameless."

"Since the beginning of the Russian occupation, human rights abuses on the peninsula have risen steeply, including the severe curtailment of the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion or belief. Unsurprisingly, many who have seen their universal rights so significantly abused have been those daring to speak out against the Russian occupation," she said in a statement after the vote.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after protesters overthrew Kiev's pro-Moscow president. The conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and government troops has claimed the lives of more than 9,500 people.

Despite peace accords signed in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, in 2015, which initially helped to halt the fighting and then lower its intensity, clashes have persisted.

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