Crimean Tatar activist abducted for solidarity, fined for ‘threatening the police’
A Simferopol court under Russian occupation has fined Bilyal Adilov 10 thousand roubles (145 EUR) in the latest move against civic activists coming out in peaceful solidarity with neighbours or other Crimean Tatars facing armed searches and arrest. The fine could have been much worse, but that is the only positive thing that can be said about this case, in which an activist who had himself been abducted, ended up facing criminal charges for supposedly ‘threatening’ OMON riot police officer.
The effective abduction that preceded this criminal prosecution is worth recalling. On March 29, Adilov was standing outside the High Court in Simferopol where the latest detention ‘hearing’ over the imprisonment of five men, two of them Adilov’s neighbours. The five, who all have small children, were arrested on October 12, 2016, and charged with involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a peaceful organization which is legal in Ukraine.
Adilov was seized by men in masks and camouflage gear who did not identify themselves, and simply forced him into their van. It was only hours later that he was able to phone his family and say that he was being held at the Investigative Committee. His lawyer Edem Semedlyaev thus reached him only after several hours and later reported that Adilov was accused, under Article 313 of Russia’s criminal code of “using force or threats against a representative of the authorities”. This was how the Russian enforcement officers had decided to treat a verbal exchange between an OMON riot police officer and Adilov on Oct 12, during the arrest of his neighbours.
The altercation can be heard on a Youtube video, with the charges pertaining to Adilov’s words: “My children will be angrier than I am. Your children will suffer because of how you treat us”.
Semedlyaev says that he himself posted the video. He was present during the search and made the video public because of the very bad behaviour of the OMON and police officers. It was that, he says, that led to the altercation and he rejects any suggestion that Adilov’s words can be interpreted as a threat against representatives of the authorities.
During the hearing on July 10, Semedlyaev acknowledged that Adilov’s words had been emotional. He had been watching mass armed searches of the homes of Crimean Muslims, including his neighbour Emil Dzhemadenov whose wife was due to give birth any time. His mother had not been allowed into the Dzhemadenovs’ home.
The judge didn’t want to hear any of that and cut Semedlyaev off. The charges against Adilov could, however, have resulted in a period of imprisonment of up to five years, or 300 thousand rouble fine. Since such court proceedings seem clearly aimed at intimidating Crimean Tatars and deterring them from acts of solidarity, the 10 thousand imposed on the father of six, who also has an invalid brother, was the best that could be hoped for.
Russia has begun holding closed detention hearings, and bringing administrative or criminal proceedings against Crimean Tatars who come out in peaceful protest and solidarity with the victims of repression.