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MPs challenged to fight Russian repression by adopting a Ukrainian political prisoner

16.12.2020
Halya Coynash

Activists from the civic movement #LiberateCrimea are calling on Ukrainian MPs to take individual Kremlin hostages under their care, with the initiative strongly supported by former political prisoners like Oleg Sentsov and Edem Bekirov.  Although #LiberateCrimea are specifically addressing Ukraine’s legislators, Russia is holding over 100 Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainian political prisoners, and everyone of us can play a role in ensuring that the world knows about such repression and that each victim knows that he or she is not forgotten. 

The #LiberateCrimea campaign was launched in an online presentation on 11 December.  The participants put forward specific proposals for MPs, who are asked to:

  1. Publicly (at a press conference; on Facebook; Twitter or similar) announce that they are taking one of the Kremlin hostages under their care by 20 December 2020;
  2. At least once a month make public statements about their political prisoner;
  3. Approach the Office of the President; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant state bodies demanding that they be more proactive in seeking the release of the Kremlin’s hostages;
  4. Provide legal; political; information; material and other forms of assistance to their specific political prisoners and their families;
  5. Encourage colleagues from other countries’ parliaments to become ‘godparents’ of their own political prisoners;
  6. Approach the Trilateral Contact Group asking them to include their political prisoner in the list of prisoners for exchange;
  7. Carry out legislative activities aimed at defending the rights of political prisoners;
  8. Hold other activities aimed at helping the prisoners. 

A press conference will be held on 21 December to inform the public about all MPs who have joined the campaign. 

“Our task”, Sentsov explained, “is to make the names of the political prisoners known, since that protects them in the prison colony and helps get them released”.  It is vital, he continued that people know the names of Crimean Tatar human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku; of the brothers Teymur and Uzeir Abdullayev; of Volodymyr Dudka and Valentin Vyhivsky.  If MPs become the political prisoners’ ‘godparents’, that will make it possible to speak about them at all levels.

Edem Bekirov stressed that such an initiative is vital for all Kremlin hostages, and he calls on deputies from regional councils to also take part.  Bekirov is so far the only Crimean Tatar whom Russia has thus far released in an exchange. He was one of three Ukrainian hostages with severe health issues who were freed (as was Sentsov) on 7 September 2019.  There have been no releases since then, and Russia has taken prisoner at least as many Ukrainians as were freed that day, including some, like Dzhemil Gafarov, with equally grave health issues.

The appeal to Ukrainian MPs was also supported by Oliver Loode, the Estonian civic activist whose involvement in #LiberateCrimea and condemnation of Russia’s persecution of the Crimean Tatar people, was viewed by Moscow as such a ‘threat’ that he was banned from the Russian Federation for a record 55 years.  He stressed that Ukrainian MPs could play a key role and serve as a moral example to European Parliamentarians and legislators from other countries. 

Many of the promises made by Ukraine’s leaders with respect to the Kremlin’s hostages have proven empty.  Instead of passing the needed legislation to enable the spending of money allocated for helping political prisoners and their families, the government recently allocated some of it to create a rather suspicious state enterprise, called ‘Reintegration and Renewal’ (details here).  It is therefore imperative that as many MPs as possible become directly, and personally, involved in defending the Kremlin’s hostage.

There are well over a hundred Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian political prisoners in occupied Crimea and Russia, as well as at least 230 hostages and POWs held prisoner in occupied Donbas.  While important that Ukrainian legislators take heed of this call, others, some acts of support and solidarity need only the Internet.   It is vital that we all use Twitter or social media to circulate information about political prisoners and make calls to government representatives in our own country, the EU, etc.

Please write to at least one of the hostages below and help to ensure that people in other countries know about them.  The Russian FSB and other ‘investigators’ spend a lot of time trying to convince political prisoners that Ukraine has abandoned them, that nobody knows what they are going through, nor cares.  Even if it’s hard to write in Russian, your very letters will demonstrate that this is not the case. 

Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian political prisoners held in occupied Crimea or Russia (press the name for more information)

‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ conveyor belt prosecutions  - fake ‘terrorism’ charges, used increasingly against civic activists and journalists

Sevastopol Four    

Ruslan Zeytullaev 

Ferat SaifullaevRustem Vaitov andNuri Primov were released in early 2020 after serving wrongful sentences to the end

Yalta Six   - the first gratuitously violent ‘operation’ on 11 February 2016, and then arrests of two very young men on 18 April 2016.            

Emir-Usein Kuku, the first human rights activist, against whom Russia used ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ charges, after other persecution failed to silence him.  See:

“Crimea is our land. We did not give it to Russia, nor did we sell it”

Muslim Aliev  

See: Stalin took Crimean Tatar Dilyara Alieva’s homeland and parents; Putin’s Russia has taken her son

Inver Bekirov

Vadim Siruk

Arsen Dzhepparov

Refat Alimov

Bakhchysarai Four  - four men arrested on 12 May 2016

Enver Mamutov

Rustem Abiltarov

Zevri Abseitov

Remzi Memetov

Simferopol Five   - five men, including two brothers, both of them lawyers and Ukrainian sports champions

Teymur Abdullayev

Uzeir Abdullayev

See:  “Mama, have they come to kill us?” Russia’s new-old terror and deportation of Crimean Tatars

Emil Dzhemadenov

Aider Saledinov

Rustem Ismailov

Bakhchysarai ‘Crimean Solidarity’ arrests    

Suleyman (Marlen) Asanov  

Ernes Ametov  

Memet Belyalov  

Timur Ibragimov  

Seiran Saliyev

See: My grandfather was tried on the same charges as my son

Server Zekiryaev  

Server Mustafayev

Edem Smailov

22 March 2018        Nariman Memedeminov (a civic journalist)

10 May 2018           Enver Seytosmanov

14 February 2019    ‘Krasnogvardeysk group’ -  three men, including a civic activist and a 22-year-old  

Rustem Emiruseinov

See: Russia uses Trial by Fake Secret Witnesses to imprison Crimean Tatars

Arsen Abkhairov

Eskender Abdulganiev 

27 March 2019  ‘Operation’ against Crimean Tatar civic activists and journalists in which 23 men were seized and almost immediately taken to Russia.  Two other men – Rayim Aivazov and Eskender Suleymanov were arrested later.

Izet Abdulayev, actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Tofik Abdulgaziev, Crimean Solidarity activist

Vladlen Abdulkadyrov. activist involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners

Medzhit Abdurakhmanov Crimean Solidarity activist

Bilyal Adilov religious figure who also actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Rayim Aivazov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Enver Ametov  actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Osman Arifmemetov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist and activist

See: Bitter echoes of Stalin’s Deportation in Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tatars

Farkhod Bazarov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Akim Bekirov civic activist involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners

Remzi Bekirov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Dzhemil Gafarov actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  Gafarov has a serious kidney disorder and even according to Russian law should not be in detention. 

Servet Gaziev, 15.04.1960, actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Riza Izetov  human rights activist and Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Alim Karimov Crimean Solidarity activist

Seiran Murtaza  actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings. He has two children.

Yashar Muyedinov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Erfan Osmanov actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Seitveli Seitabdiev  Crimean Solidarity activist

Rustem Seitkhalilov Crimean Solidarity activist

Rustem Sheikhaliev  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Eskender Suleymanov,  Crimean Solidarity activist.

Ruslan Suleymanov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist and activist

Shaban Umerov Crimean Solidarity activist

Asan Yanikov  civic activist involved in organizing food parcels for political prisoners.

10 June 2019  FSB “We’ll get around to shooting you all”   

‘Belogorsk group’  - including a father and son

Aider Dzhapparov

Enver Omerov

Riza Omerov

‘Alushta Group’

Eldar Kantimirov

Lenur Khalilov

Ruslan Mensutov

Ruslan Nahaev

11 March 2020   Another wave of armed searches and arrests in Bakhchysarai, targeting civic activists or their relatives

Seytumer Seytumerov

Osman Seytumerov  (the sons of renowned Crimean Tatar historian Shurki Seytumerov)

Rustem Seytmemetov  (the Seytumerovs’ uncle)

Amet Suleymanov – a Crimean Solidarity activist and journalist (streaming information about arrests and political trials onto the Internet).  He had recently restricted such civic activism, but only because of very serious heart problems.  This is one of only two cases where death in detention was presumably deemed so likely that Suleymanov was placed under house arrest.

7 July 2020  New FSB low, with arrest of a blind man with limited mobility and many others.  At least four of the men Vadim Bektemirov; Alexander Sizikov; Alim Sufianov and Emil Ziyadinov all took part in measures to help political prisoners and ensure circulation of information about such repression

Vadim Bektemirov

Ismet Ibragimov

Seiran Khairedinov

Zekirya Muratov

Alexander Sizikov(placed under house arrest due to his severe disability, but Russia is still trying to claim that he “led a Hizb ut-Tahrir cell”)

Alim Sufianov

Emil Ziyadinov 

Other religious persecution

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Serhiy Filatov

Artem Gerasimov

Yevhen Zhukov

Volodymyr Maladyka

Volodymyr Sakada

Ihor Schmidt 

Tablighi Jamaat

Rinat Suleymanov

Talyat Abdurakhmanov(suspended sentence)

Arsen Kubedinov(suspended sentence)

Seiran Mustafaev (suspended sentence)

‘Ukrainian Saboteur’ cases without any acts of sabotage or proof 

Andriy Zakhtei

Oleksiy Bessarabov

Volodymyr Dudka

Dmytro Shtyblikov

Hennady Lymeshko  

Kostyantin Davydenko 

Oleh Prykhodko

Denis Kashuk

Mystery ‘spying’

Valentin Vyhivsky  Imprisoned since September 2014

Viktor Shur

Leonid Parkhomenko  

Vladimir Morgunov

Halyna Dovhopola  

Oleksandr Marchenko

Konstantin Shyrinha

Vasyl Vasylenko  - a 53-year-old former footballer whose arrest on spying charges was announced recently, nine months after his arrest

Ivan Yatskin

Punishment for Euromaidan or for opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea

Mykola Shyptur  imprisoned since March 2014

Oleksiy Chyrniy 

Andriy Kolomiyets   

Accused of membership in Ukraine of perfectly legal organizations which Russia demonizes and has banned for political reasons. 

Maxim Filatov

Oleksandr Shumkov

Alleged membership of the Noman Çelebicihan (or Asker) Battalion

Fevzi Sahandzhy

Edem Kadyrov

Dilyaver Gafarov

Nariman Mezhmedinov

Medzhit Ablyamitov

Other Ukrainian political prisoners

Rustem Abilev

Serhiy Buhaichuk

Oleh Chaban

Yevhen Karakashev

Ihor KIyashko

Maxim Sokurenko 

Punitive psychiatry

Yunus Masharipov

 

 

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