Blacklist exposes judges involved in political persecution in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Crimea Human Rights Group has collated important information about all judges involved in illegally imprisoning Ukrainian citizens in Russian-occupied Crimea. The blacklist will provide vital documentation for international courts as well as evidence to back demands for the individuals to face Ukrainian and international sanctions. While it is understood that the decisions on persecuting individual Ukrainians are made in Moscow, those who carry out criminal orders must be made to understand that their actions will be remembered and will carry consequences.
It is clear from the list that a corps of so-called judges has emerged who can be relied upon to issue any knowingly wrongful ruling demanded of them. There are at least 20 Russian citizens on the list, and CHG Coordinator Olha Skrypnyk stresses that their deployment in occupied Crimea confirms infringement of both the Rome Statute and the Geneva Convention. The latter specifically prohibits the transfer of officials to territory under occupation. Russia may deny that it is occupying Crimea, but its position runs counter to that taken by the International Crimean Court; the UN, EU and its bodies and all democratic countries.
The blacklist includes the person’s citizenship. In the case of Ukrainian citizens, criminal proceedings can be brought against them, and this process has already begun.
The situation is more difficult, but not impossible, where the judge in question is Russian. Criminal proceedings may be impossible, but there is every reason to lobby strongly for international sanctions to be imposed on all those involved in the persecution of Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and many others.
The Crimean Human Rights Group is working with a number of other Ukrainian human rights organizations on putting together a ‘Sentsov – Chiygoz List’. This will also include prosecutors, investigators and all those actively involved in the illegal imprisonment of Ukrainian citizens.
Skrypnyk stresses that the list is not about revenge, but accountability. Such lists provide the basis for important discussion within Ukraine on liability and for clear legal assessment by Ukraine of what is happening in Crimea. Russian occupation must inevitably come to an end, with international law triumphing. That will be the point at which the question will arise of Crimea’s re-integration in Ukraine and who can expect to be held to answer for violations.
This is vital to clarify since Russia is deliberately frightening people and suggesting that, for example, people who took part in the pseudo-referendum of March 16, 2014 would be punished. This is nonsense, and it needs to be made quite clear that there is a huge difference between those who organized the pseudo-referendum and those who believed the lies on Russian television and took part.
There must, however, also be no room for doubting that those who deny people their liberty, their right to a fair trial, to freedom of speech, family life, etc., whether in the hope of promotion or simply to fulfil a criminal order, will be held to answer.
The lists can be downloaded (in Russian) here.
The three judges are cited who sentenced Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to 20 years, and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko to 10. See Make Russia’s Sentsov & Kolchenko Trial a Warning to the Perpetrators for details about their role in a trial where there is literally no evidence against the men except for ‘confessions’ tortured out of the other two prisoners. The judges ignored even the fact that Gennady Afanasyev found the courage to take the stand, retract all his testimony and describe the torture used to obtain it.
In fact, the number of judges implicated in the imprisonment and persecution of these four opponents of Russia’s annexation is doubtless longer, but the men were illegally moved to Russia very soon, and it may be harder to ascertain the involvement of specific judges. That is not the case with notorious prosecutions in occupied Crimea.
There is long list of judges involved in the so-called ’26 February 2014 case’ where Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz; father of four Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy have been imprisoned for 2 years and more. The charges are woolly and unclear and involve a pre-annexation demonstration over which Russia has no jurisdiction. This case is thus openly illegal and discriminatory, since only Crimean Tatars have been targeted, yet the judges invariably agree to continue extending the men’s detention and seriously violate fundamental rights. Chiygoz, for example, has been prevented from attending his own ‘trial’.
Charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir
Russia has thus far arrested 19 Crimean Muslims, most Crimean Tatar, and charged them with unproven involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement which is legal in Ukraine and most other countries. Russia has never explained why it declared the organization ‘terrorist’, but regularly sentences men to huge terms of imprisonment, sometimes purely on the basis of a ‘secret witness’ who claimed to have been ‘recruited’.
The 19 men in occupied Crimea include a human rights activist and others known for their civic position and everything about the cases is of major concern.
Here too several judges are implicated, two of them – Tatyana Rube and Olga Plastinina – Russian citizens.
Rube and Plastinina are also among the 5 Russians among the 7 judges implicated in the so-called ‘Crimean saboteur’ prosecutions. Ten men at least are in custody, including prominent academics, on preposterous charges for which there is literally no evidence. Almost all have been prevented from seeing judges whom they or their families chose.
The list includes judges implicated in the openly lawless prosecutions and long sentences of Oleksandr Kostenko and Andriy Kolomiyets for entirely unprovable ‘offences’ allegedly committed during Euromaidan in Kyiv. Pro-Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh and others. The list of victims of political persecution is not full, and it is likely to be added to as more information becomes available. The compilers of the blacklist offer to provide more details and confirmation, and ask people to write to them at [email protected] .