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Russian Terror and State-sponsored Abductions. Where is Crimean Tatar activist Ervin Ibragimov?

24.05.2021
Halya Coynash

Ervin Ibragimov was just 30 when, in the late evening of  24 May 2016, he was abducted by men in Russian traffic police uniform near his home in Bakhchysarai (Crimea).  He has not been seen since, with the Russian occupation regime’s lies and total failure to investigate his disappearance only compounding the suspicion that they know very well what happened to him. 

Despite his youth, Ibragimov had been a deputy of the Bakhchysarai  City Council until Russia’s invasion.  He was a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars and a well-known civic activist in Crimea who had arranged to travel in the morning of 25 May to the trial of four young men prosecuted for an event in remembrance of the victims of the Crimean Tatar Deportation.

The previous evening, however, he failed to return home, having phoned his father and said he was on his way.  His father sounded the alarm the following morning, and Ibragimov’s car was found fairly near his home with the key in the ignition and door open.  CCTV recordings   were obtained from a shop nearby which showed Ibragimov being stopped by men in traffic police uniform.  He clearly understood he was in danger and tried to flee, but was seized and forced into the men’s van. 

There are several reasons for suspecting the occupation regime of being behind Ibragimov’s disappearance.  The young Crimean Tatar had noticed being under surveillance before his disappearance and men in police uniform had stopped outside his home. 

The FSB also refused to accept the family’s official report that Ibragimov was missing and only initiated a formal investigation after hundreds of Crimean Tatars gathered outside police headquarters demanding action. There was never any evidence of real attempts to find him, or his abductors, and the Russian-installed ‘prosecutor’ Natalya Poklonskaya came up with cruel lies about the reason for his disappearance.

In early 2018, lawyer Emil Kurbedinov lodged a formal complaint against the so-called investigator who had not even bothered to answer his formal requests for information.  During the court hearing on March 26, it became clear that any investigation had been terminated in September 2017. 

Just over a year before Ibragimov’s abduction, another human rights activist, Emir-Usein Kuku had been subjected to an attack which he believed to have been an attempted abduction.  He managed to call for help and a crowd gathered.  It was at that point that his assailants made a phone call and an FSB vehicle turned up.  With other Crimean Tatars having understood what was happening and followed the vehicle, the abduction turned into an FSB ‘search’ (and beating).  Less than a year later, Kuku was arrested on preposterous ‘terrorism’ charges and is now a recognized political prisoner and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience..  

Ervin Ibragimov was one of at least nine enforced disappearances within the first two years of Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

Reshat Ametov The 39-year-old Crimean Tatar father of three, was abducted by pro-Russian paramilitaries in on 3 March 2014 from his lone picket in protest at Russian occupation outside the Crimean parliament. His badly mutilated body was found almost two weeks later. Despite video footage of the abduction, no arrests have ever been made. 

Timur Shaimardanov was 33 when he disappeared on May 26 2014.  A civic activist, he had been actively involved in peaceful protest against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and had been taking food and cigarettes to trapped Ukrainian soldiers. 

33-year-old Seiran Zinedinov disappeared a week after Shairmardanov, on May 30.  Contact with him was lost shortly after he left Shaimardanov’s relatives whom he had visited to discuss efforts to find him.

Vasyl Chernysh, an Automaidan activist from Sevastopol was last seen on March 15, 2014, the day before the so-called ‘Crimean referendum’. 

Ivan Bondarev and Valery Vashchuk were both young Maidan activists in their early 20s.  They disappeared in Simferopol on 7 March 2014, having phoned their families and said that they had been detained by ‘the police’.

Islam Dzhepparov was just 19 when he was abducted in Crimea on 27 September, 2014, together with his 23-year-old cousin Dzhevdet Islamov.  Despite the fact that they were seen being forced into a dark blue Volkswagen Transporter and taken away in the direction of Feodosia, and that the police even had the minivan’s registration number, neither the young men, nor their abductors have ever been found.

The above cases and the circumstances around the ‘arrest’ of Mykola Shyptur give reason to believe that the latter became a political prisoner rather than another paramilitary disappearance almost by chance, because a police officer’s involvement made his abduction too obvious (details here).

In December 2020, Krym SOS reported that there had been 44 cases of enforced disappearance in occupied Crimea, with the fate of 15 of them, including the above-mentioned people, unknown.   In essentially all cases, the occupation authorities have failed to take any real measures to find the missing people and / or their abductors.

 

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