No evidence of real investigation into disappearance of Crimean activists
The Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights reports that the lawyer following the investigation into the disappearance in May of Crimean activist and opponent of Russian rule Timur Shaimardanov has appealed against the investigator’s official refusal to see the case material. The refusal was explained as being because the lawyer had not provided authorization from Shaimardanov’s relatives. The lawyer, whom the Field Mission does not name, asserts that this would be a breach of lawyer’s confidentiality and is not required by law.
There have been no meetings of the contact group on the search for Crimean Tatars under the Crimean ‘parliament’, nor did the specific information promised by the end of October about measures investigating the disappearances eventuate.
Three criminal investigations have been initiated in the Crimea – two under Article 105 of the Russian criminal code [murder] with respect to the disappearances of Timur Shaimardanov and Seiran Zinedinov, and Article 126 over the abduction in late September of Islyam Dzhepparov and Dzhevdet Islyamov.
The two young Crimean Tatars were abducted in the early evening of Sept 27 from Sary-Su near Belogorsk in the Crimea. 19-year-old Islam Dzhepparov and his 23-year-old cousin Dzhevdet Islamov were forced into a dark blue Volkswagen Transporter and taken away in the direction of Feodosiya.
Both the police and FSB [Russian security service] claimed to know nothing about the abduction, with this widely viewed as improbable given the degree of surveillance especially of Crimean Tatars since Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. The fact that even the mini-van was not ‘found’ despite all details, including the minivan’s registration number, being known only heightened suspicions.
Other young Crimean Tatar males have disappeared in the last two months or so. the body of 25-year-old Edem Asanov found in an abandoned sanatorium a few days after he set off for work at the Prymorye sanatorium in Yevpatoriya and did not arrive. The authorities claim that he committed suicide.
At very least 3 civic activists have not been found after disappearing in May.
No more information than reported back in May about Leonid Korzh seems to be available. He is known to have taken part in the protest against Russian annexation of the Crimea, and his phone has been switched off since May 22.
It was Timur Shaimardanov who announced Korzh’s disappearance. Then he disappeared on May 25. Shaimardanov was one of the most active participants in protests against the annexation of the Crimea. Together with other activists he collected food and other things for soldiers in Ukrainian military units in Simferopol, and also took part in many rallies.
33-year-old Simferopol resident Seiran Zinedinov disappeared a week later, on May 30. Contact with him was lost shortly after he left Shaimardanov’s relatives after a meeting lasting around 20 minutes to discuss efforts to find him.
Ruslan Zuyev, a protestant pastor says that he left the Crimea immediately after Zinedinov disappeared, fearing that he might face the same fate.
“I had a lot of contact with Timur and Seiran just before they disappeared. After this two FSB [Russian security service] officers arrived at my office. They behave in a challenging fashion and asked a lot of questions. They asked for example why I wrote on my facebook page about the disappearance of my friends”.
The Field Mission has said before that it believes the so-called self-defence militia, at that time a paramilitary formation with no set status, to be behind the disappearances. Any formal ‘investigations’ do not conceal the fact that the Crimean investigators have done nothing to find the missing activists.