No investigation into abduction of Crimean Tatar activist, just FSB surveillance of his parents
Seven months after Ervin Ibragimov’s abduction from near his home in Russian-occupied Crimea, there is nothing to suggest that the de facto authorities are trying to find him. Instead, they have men following the Crimean Tatar activist’s parents. Ervin Ibragimov had reported such surveillance just before he was abducted.
Ervin Ibragimov is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars and, until Russia’s invasion of his homeland, was a member of the Bakhchysarai City Council.
He had spoken to his father late in the evening on May 24, but then failed to return. His car was found the next morning fairly near his home with the key in the ignition and door open. CCTV footage was obtained from a shop nearby which shows Ibragimov being stopped by men who appear to be in road patrol uniform. There is a second where the young man tries to flee, but was seized and forced into the men’s van.
Ibragimov’s father went to the FSB immediately, but they refused to even register the abduction. An ‘investigation’ was initiated only after a large group of people gathered outside the FSB offices – an act that requires courage under Russian occupation.
There is no evidence that any investigative measures were carried out then or since.
Ervin’s father Umer Ibragimov sees no progress at all, and says that it is only his son’s friends who have made any effort to find him.
“I want to see a ray of hope, but there isn’t one. It’s all just deeper and darker”.
Instead of looking for his son, the FSB set up surveillance of him and his wife. At first it was all the time, now only periodically. He says that he has told the 3 or 4 men who sit in the car that he never asked them to guard him. “Or are you waiting for the next victim?”
In October posters were pasted on walls near the Kremlin in Moscow, and around the Russian capital. They simply asked people to help them find Ervin, but were still pulled down within hours by cleaners taking their orders from the FSB. The posters did give a website address which provided information about the failure to investigate Ibragimov’s abduction and about how his was the latest of many killings or disappearances since Russia annexed Crimea.
It is known that 39-year-old Reshat Ametov was abducted by the so-called self-defence paramilitaries who helped Russia carry off its annexation in 2014. There is very clear video footage of the abduction, yet despite this and the fact that he was found tortured to death soon afterwards, nobody has been arrested.
There are very strong grounds for believing that these same paramilitaries were behind the disappearances of Timur Shaimardanov and other civic activists in 2014.
Just over a year before Ervin Ibragimov was abducted, there was an apparent attempt to seize another rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku. It went wrong for the abductors because a crowd gathered and demanded to know what was going on, and turned in a sinister fashion into an FSB ‘search’. Kuku is now in detention on entirely fabricated charges. He had begun monitoring human rights after the disappearances of young Crimean Tatars within months of Russia’s invasion.
Kuku’s experience, and the reluctance shown by the FSB to even register the report of Ibragimov’s abduction, must inevitably give rise to certain suspicions.
They also strengthen the fear that Ervin Ibragimov will not be the last victim.