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Crimean Tatar human rights activist sentenced to 4 years after complaining of torture by Russian FSB
Yunus Masharipov, a 54-year-old Crimean Tatar activist from Yalta, has received a four-year prison sentence and 110 thousand rouble fine on charges of illegally preparing explosive devices. Masharipov had, in December last year, issued public statements to both Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and to Viktor Palagin, the then head of the Russian FSB [security service] saying that he had been tortured into ‘confessing’ to these offences, after he said that he had informed organizations back in 2014 about violations of the rights of children, the disabled and pensioners.
There is no independent proof of Masharipov’s story, however it is very similar to the experiences of several other political prisoners, as well of Crimean Tatar activists who have been abducted by FSB officers and tortured. One particularly notorious, and well-documented case, that of the savage torture of Renat Paralamov, came just weeks before Masharipov’s ‘encounter’ with the FSB.
In the statements reported on 1 December 2017, Masharipov asserted that on 27 September, he had been set upon and beaten by unidentified individuals who then took him to the FSB offices in Yalta. There he was questioned about his frequent trips to mainland Ukraine.
It was, he alleges, after he told them that he had reported human rights abuses in occupied Crimea that, even in the FSB offices, he was beaten and tortured with the use of electric shocks.
Under torture, he had ‘confessed’ to being a Ukrainian Security Service [SBU] agent and to having carried out their tasks. He had been forced to repeat this ‘testimony’ on video, giving several different versions.
Masharipov was charged with preparing an explosive device. This, the file material claims, was found 50 metres away from a church on the Sevastopol Highway. He was remanded in custody on 27 September 2017 by the Russian-controlled Yalta Court. He had told the ‘court’ that he had given the testimony under torture, but this was ignored.
In the later statements to Poroshenko and Palagin, Masharipov said that he was being threatened with reprisals as he was refusing to give further testimony on the basis of Article 51 of Russia’s Constitution.
The Russian-controlled Krym-Inform says nothing about Masharipov’s allegations of torture, citing only the FSB. The report is from 13 November 2018, however it is not clear when the Yalta City Court sentence was passed.
Masharipov was accused of having produced two home-made inflammatory devices and taken them to a plot of land not far from a church in Oreande, a settlement in Yalta.
The FSB reports that “with the help of these explosive devices, Masharipov planned to set fire to a mountainous forest area in Yalta, in order to destabilize the socio-political situation in the region”.
He was also charged with illegally purchasing smoke powder and storing it in a box in his garage.
All of these ‘explosive devices’ were allegedly discovered by the FSB “in the course of operational measures”.
Similar “operational measures” to those described by Masharipov himself have been reported by Emir-Usein Kuku, a Yalta human rights activist and recognized political prisoner; by Hlib Shabliy, one of the men arrested in November 2016 and later convicted of explosive-related offences quite different from the ‘confession’ videoed by the FSB; by Paralamov and others.