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Russia is endangering the life of a Ukrainian seized in insane case of mistaken identity

05.01.2018
Halya Coynash

Kabir Mohammad, a Ukrainian citizen originally from Afghanistan, was held prisoner in Russian-occupied Crimea for a year because a person with a different name but same country of origin was on Interpol’s wanted list.  He remains a hostage to this insane situation with his life now placed in grave danger.

Mohammad has been permanently resident in Ukraine since he arrived to study medicine in 1986, and lives with his Ukrainian wife and their two children in the Kyiv Oblast.  The family set off for Crimea in September 2016 after Mohammad suffered a stroke and was advised to spend time at the sea.  They were stopped by Russian border guards at the Armyansk crossing into Crimea who announced that Interpol had put an Afghanistan national called Mohammad Kabir Niyazi on the international wanted list at Iran’s request.  This should have been a trivial fact since there was no match and Kabir Mohammad was clearly not the same person.  Instead, however, the Ukrainian was arrested. 

This absurd mistake was then backed by ‘judge’ Tatyana Fedeneva from the Russian-controlled Armyansk town court who remanded Kabir Mohammad in custody.  Oksana Mohammad and the children were effectively left out on the street that night.

The conditions in the Simferopol SIZO [remand prison] where Mohammad was held are appalling, and he suffered a second stroke.  He was systematically denied any medical care with this resulting in serious complications.

He was released in September 2017, seemingly only because the rules say that detention pending extradition cannot last more than one year, although doctors say that with his diagnosis, he should not have been held in custody at all.  

He was only released from the SIZO, with the occupation authorities refusing to terminate the surreal ‘criminal proceedings’ against him and placing him under an undertaking to not leave Crimea. 

He now urgently needs an operation which cannot be carried out in Crimea, and without which he could die.

In Russian-occupied Crimea, he is not eligible for free medical treatment in hospitals, yet is prevented from leaving the peninsula.  The Crimean Human Rights Group reports that the only way of saving his life under such circumstances is to secure his transfer to Moscow for treatment.  Under Russian legislation, this is possible if the Crimean de facto prosecutor’s office gives its consent, however the medical centre where the operation would take place must sent a written summons for treatment.

The summons was received, however now the de facto prosecutor is refusing to give permission, claiming that the summons must be from a state hospital.  That is, from a Russian state hospital which is refusing to treat Kabir Mohammad, a Ukrainian illegally held in Crimea.

While arresting one Ukrainian because his name bears a slight resemblance to somebody else’s may seem in a class of its own, this is not the only occasion when Ukrainians have been arrested on surreal charges in Russian-occupied Crimea.  Two Ukrainians – Andriy Kolomiyets and Oleksandr Kostenko – are currently serving long terms of imprisonment for totally implausible and unprovable ‘offences’ against Berkut riot police in Ukraine’s capital well before Russia formally annexed Crimea.  Other Ukrainians have effectively been abducted in Crimea, and then imprisoned in occupied Crimea or Russia on evidently flawed charges.

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