Human Rights in Ukraine

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19.03.2019 | Halya Coynash

Russian occupiers are doing everything to kill imprisoned Crimean Tatar amputee

Edem Bekirov in 'court' 2
   

As if it were not enough to effectively abduct and imprison Edem Bekirov on charges which his disability and serious illnesses make simply preposterous, Russia is now placing the 58-year-old Crimean Tatar’s life in danger through inappropriate medication and 24-hour incarceration in appalling conditions.  Gulnara Bekirova says that the occupiers are doing everything to ensure that her husband does not leave the SIZO [remand prison] alive.

Bekirov’s lawyer visited him  on 13 and 14 March.  He reports that Bekirov’s insulin dosage has been increased, though who took this decision and why is unknown.  What is clear, his wife says, is that he has suffered an allergic reaction to the insulin, which in his condition is a direct threat to his life.

Thankfully, Bekirov is held in the same cell as another political prisoner - Crimean Solidarity co-ordinator Server Mustafaev.  It was he who alerted the paramedic in the SIZO who initially gave him antihistamine tablets which did not work, and then an injection that supposedly made him sleep for eight hours.  The irresponsibility of such ‘medication’ in any situation would be shocking, but here we are talking about a person with a serious disability and diabetes, who also underwent life-threatening heart surgery a year ago. 

In short, even according to Russian legislation, Bekirov should not be held in detention.  His wife says that he needed to summon all his strength before his imprisonment to maintain his active work as a volunteer in the Kherson oblast where the family lives.  He has now been incarcerated for almost 100 days in a SIZO where the conditions are tantamount to torture even for a young man in good health. 

Islyam Veliliaev, Bekirov’s lawyer, reports that his client is increasingly troubled by heart pain, breathlessness and lack of sleep.  The latter is because he simply can’t breathe and begins coughing if he lies down.   

In order to have the hour’s ‘walk’ in something approaching fresh air, Bekirov would need to walk up several flights of stairs, which he is far too weak to do.  He is thus confined to a small and stuffy cell in which he can only try to sleep sitting up.  He says himself that he is becoming atrophied.

None of this is at all new, yet a ‘judge’ from the Russian-controlled Kievsky District Court in Simferopol still extended Bekirov’s detention on 7 February for a further two months, until 12 April.  An appeal against this was, predictably, rejected on 26 February.

Bekirov was seized by the FSB on 12 December, 2018, when he tried to cross into Crimea to visit his elderly mother and other relatives. He was held incommunicado until well into the evening, and without food or water until the ‘court hearing’ the following day that ordered his detention for two months.

He was not on any ‘wanted list’ and the FSB’s behaviour was already thoroughly illegal.  It got worse. 

He has been charged with circulating and transporting more than 10 kilograms of DNT and 190 bullets ((under Article 222 § 2 of Russia’s criminal code).  According to the FSB’s ‘secret witness’ whom they call ‘Memetov’, Bekirov passed the explosives and bullets – all 14 kilogram worth - to him in May 2018. Memetov purportedly placed them in a secret hiding place around Krasnoperekopsk and then in August revealed this place to the Russian FSB and gave testimony against Bekirov.

The ‘court’ has been told and given evidence to confirm that Bekirov could not even lift a 1.5 litre bottle without difficulty and could not have survived any effort to draft such a huge weight. 

The FSB and the ‘courts’ are ignoring much more than Bekirov’s dire physical condition.  They are also refusing to consider Bekirov’s alibi which debunks the testimony of the FSB’s anonymous ‘secret witness’  

A formal complaint over this was lodged by lawyer Alexei Ladin back in December 2018.   There is plenty of real and identifiable witness testimony to confirm exactly where Bekirov was at the time that an ‘anonymous witness’ claims he was transporting 14 kilograms of explosives which he couldn’t have lifted.  Ladin had also demanded that the FSB investigator Ivan Romanets order a check to be made of the two sim-cards (Ukrainian and Russian) in Bekirov’s mobile phone which will also back his alibi. 

This the supposed ‘investigators’ have no intention of doing.  Ladin noted that Romanets had claimed that the investigators already know everything. With such an attitude, why bother with an ‘investigation’ or ‘trial’, Ladin asked.  Let the FSB simply pass sentence on Bekirov, and have done with it”.

Bekirov is an active member of the Crimean Tatar community in Novooleksiyivka (Kherson oblast) and his wife, Gulnara, is a member of the Mejlis (representative assembly) of the Crimean Tatar People.  Russia is maintaining its persecution of the Mejlis, in violation of a direct order from the UN’s International Court of Justice and it seems likely that this was the reason that Bekirov was targeted. 

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