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12.03.2015

Another Armed Detention in Surreal Crimean Tatar Protest ‘Case’

   

On March 11 armed men in masks burst into the home of 31-year-old Talyat Yunosov and took him away.  This is the latest detention in one of the most cynical ‘cases’ initiated since Russia occupied Crimea as the charges relate to a protest which took place on Feb 26, 2014 -  under Ukrainian rule and Ukrainian legislation.

According to Yunosov’s father, the armed men appeared at 7 a.m.  He says they didn’t explain anything properly, claiming only that camera’s had recorded his participation in the demonstration on Feb 26, 2014.  They said that he was suspected of causing somebody injury and that they were taking him to Simferopol. 

It is possible that he will be released after several hours of ‘interrogation’, as was Asan Charukhov, who experienced a similar armed visitation and forced trip to Simferopol last week. 

The Crimean Human Rights Field Mission has condemned the so-called ‘February 26 Case’ as legally unfounded and politically motivated, aimed solely at persecuting those who oppose the Crimea occupation regime. 

Russia and the ‘government’ it installed, with the use of armed Russian soldiers, on Feb 27, 2014, are trying to change historical fact and claim that the current ‘prime minister’ Sergei Aksyonov assumed control on Feb 26.  He certainly did not do so in any legal faction.  The large protest outside parliament that day was organized by Crimean Tatars to prevent an attempt to seize control of parliament.  There were effectively two demonstrations in the same place: one organized by Crimean Tatars and EuroMaidan activists, the other by the Russian Unity party run by Sergei Aksyonov.  Both he and his party were then extremely marginal in Crimean politics, yet Aksyonov then proclaimed himself ‘prime minister’ following a parliamentary ‘session’ under Russian soldiers’ machine guns on Feb 27.

Two people died that day: one elderly man of a heart attack, and another elderly woman died later in hospital, possibly after being crushed by the crowd.

It is typical of the nature of this ‘criminal case’, that only Crimean Tatars are suspected of trouble.  The Russian Investigative Committee in Crimea claims to have over 150 ‘witnesses’ and reports that 40 people have been given victim status. 

It is especially telling that the first arrest on Jan 29, and subsequent detention, was that of Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Head of the Mejlis, or Crimean Tatar representative assembly.  Not only can there be no legal grounds or jurisdiction for the prosecution over events before annexation, but there is also ample video footage showing that Chiygoz actively sought to calm protesters, as did other members of the Mejlis present. 

The other person thus far facing criminal charges is Crimean Tatar activist, Eskender Kantemirov who is also in custody.

It remains unclear whether these spectacles with armed and masked men are aimed only at terrorizing Crimean Tatars, or whether more arrests are planned.

Halya Coynash

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