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05.06.2014

Crimean Tatar Mejlis newspaper accused of ‘extremism’

   

The Chief Editor of Avdet, the newspaper of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People has received a formal warning over something that the occupation regime’s prosecutor calls ‘propaganda of extremism’ but that appears to involve correctly using terms like annexation for Russia’s occupation of the Crimea,

Shevket Kaibullaev had received a summons to appear at the prosecutor’s office on June 3.  The summons spoke of a check into “a violation of the law of the Russian Federation on countering extremist activities” by the editorial board.

 “The Simferopol prosecutor’s office, at the instruction of the Crimean prosecutor, has handed me a warning because in their opinion there are texts in our material arouse tension in inter-ethnic relations and constitute ‘extremist activities’ by the Avdet newspaper”, Kaibullayev explained on June 3.

The prosecutor’s office, for example, considers the words ’annexation’, ‘occupation’ and ‘temporary occupation of the Crimea’ to be extremist.  

In mid-May searches were carried out of the homes of Ali Hamzin, member of the Mejlis.  The FSB [Russian security service] were supposedly looking for explosives and weapons linked with terrorist activities. 

There were reports of around 150 Crimean Tatars having been summoned for questioning, allegedly because they wear head scarfs. They had their fingerprints taken and were asked how long they had been going to mosque.  According to Mustafa Dzhemiliev, veteran Crimean Tatar leader and Ukrainian MP, whom the Russian authorities have prohibited from returning to his homeland, FSB officers are almost openly watching people in mosques, picking out those who seem most devout, with this being treated as a form of ’extremism’.   Mustafa Dzhemiliev’s home was also searched although a different pretext was given.

Three months after Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of the Crimea, Crimean Tatars are facing increasingly repressive measures. 

At a press conference on Monday in Kyiv, Ukraine’s Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko stressed that Crimean Tatars fined by the Russian authorities for taking part in peaceful gatherings would have a legitimate case against the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

This is of immediate relevance since a number of Crimean Tatars were fined  15 thousand roubles for their part in the peaceful protests on May 2 in support of Mustafa Dzhemiliev.  Around 5 thousand Crimean Tatars came to meet Dzhemiliev at the border with mainland Ukraine a day after he had been prevented from flying to Simferopol from Moscow and forced to return to Kyiv.  The Russian authorities had pretended that the ban was a fake. In their efforts to avoid damning paperwork, they have failed to provide a convincing document which can be appealed in court, however the ban proved to be in place. 

71-year-old Dzhemiliev, who was 6 months old at the time of the Deportation, was unable to be in his native Crimea on the seventieth anniversary, and those Crimean Tatars who came to meet him and who protested against the ban have faced repression under a regime which considers calling things by their correct names ‘extremist’. 

Halya Coynash

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