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05.11.2019 | Halya Coynash

Arsen Dzhepparov is facing a huge sentence in Russia for refusing to give false testimony

   

Arsen Dzhepparov was probably arrested in April 2016 and is now facing a huge sentence because he refused to act as an FSB informer, providing false testimony aimed at imprisoning fellow Crimean Tatars.  Dzepparov was then only 26, however he and his wife, Zarina, already had a small daughter.  How could he ever explain to little Evelina what conscience and honour mean, he asked, if he denounced other men who also have families and children? 

Dzhepparov was arrested on 18 April, 2016, soon after the FSB’s second attempt to force him into collaboration failed.  There are strong grounds for believing that he was not the only one of six Crimean Muslims from the Yalta region to have been arrested for integrity.  There is also witness testimony which indicates that other Crimean Tatars were tortured to extract testimony against the men, and that at least one man succumbed to such illegal pressure.

New level of Russian state terror in occupied Crimea

Although there were already a number of political prisoners in occupied Crimea, the arrests on 11 February and 18 April 2016 showed a disturbing escalation in FSB terror.  Armed and gratuitously violent searches and arrests were carried out of the homes of human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku; Muslim Aliev; Inver Bekirov and Vadim Siruk on 11 February, with the small children in three of the households left profoundly traumatized.  Initial reports spoke of far more searches, and at least one Crimean Tatar,  Damir Minadirov left for mainland Ukraine shortly afterwards, and gave a harrowing account of the torture methods applied to try to force him to testify against the other men.  It was his account that helped identify one of the individuals used as ‘secret witnesses’.   On 18 April that year, the FSB came for two much younger men: Arsen Dzhepparov and Refat Alimov, Inver Bekirov’s nephew.

Although both Dzhepparov and his wife were aware of the danger he faced, they had avoided telling his mother, Arzy Umerova, to save her worrying.  She later recalled how she and her son were getting ready for work, when there was an incredible din outside. She went out and found masked men trying to break the lock on the gate and burst in.  She told them to wait, she’d unlock the gate, but they didn’t listen.  They turned everything upside down in the house and found only prayers on the wall, and a Koran. 

Fatally flawed charges

The six men were all charged with supposed ‘involvement’ in the peaceful pan-Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is legal in Ukraine.  Russia’s entirely unexplained decision to declare Hizb ut-Tahrir ‘terrorist’ in a secret ruling by the Supreme Court in February 2003 is quite literary the basis for ‘terrorism’ charges against the men, not one of whom is accused of anything more than discussing religious issues, reading religious books, etc 

It is both because of the lack of any grounds for the charges, and because Russia, as occupying state, has no right to prosecute Crimeans according to Russian law, that the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre soon declared all six men to be political prisoners.   This was the second time Russia used such flawed ‘terrorism’ charges in occupied Crimea, but the first case had received shockingly little attention from the international community. On this occasion, a human rights activist who had already faced harassment from the occupation authorities, had been arrested and that made international NGOs react.  The arrests also led to the emergence of the civic initiative Crimean Solidarity which both helped political prisoners and their families, and publicized information about persecution.  This has made its members the targets of many later arrests.

No crime but horrific sentences

The men’s ‘trial’ is coming to an end with the Russian prosecutor having demanded almost 100 years in ‘sentences’ for six men who have committed no crime.  Two men (Aliev and Bekirov) are charged with ‘organizing a Hizb ut-Tahrir group’ and are facing 20 and 20.5 years sentences, respectively.  The other four are accused of ‘involvement’ (Article 205.5 § 2).  It was with this case that Russia’s FSB also added another extraordinarily cynical charge – of planning ‘violent seizure of power’ (Article 278).  The Memorial Human Rights Centre has noted on many occasions that this extra charge is often used against men who refuse to ‘cooperate’ with the FSB.  All the Ukrainian Muslims arrested in occupied Crimea have rejected any such ‘cooperation’, and the new charges are being applied.  In Dzhepparov’s case, the prosecutor has demanded a 13.5 year sentence.  Since Russia is illegally imprisoning Crimeans in Russia, often thousands of kilometres from their homes,

This is after a trial which the lawyers call ‘record-breaking’ for the number of falsifications and other infringements of the men’s right to a fair trial. Evelina would not be able to even visit her father in prison.

Please write to Arsen Dzhepparov; Muslim Aliev; Refat Alimov; Enver Bekirov; Emir-Usein Kuku and Vadim Siruk

The letters tell them they are not forgotten, and show Moscow that the ‘trial’ now underway is being followed. 

Letters need to be in Russian, and on ‘safe’ subjects.  If that is a problem, use the sample letter below (copying it by hand), perhaps adding a picture or photo. Do add a return address so that the men can answer.

Example letter

Привет,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ] 

Addresses

The men have been split up, with Aliev and Kuku in SIZO-4, the other men in SIZO-1 (the differences are small, so please copy carefully).  The address each time, should have the man’s full name, and year of birth.

ArsenDzhepparov

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Джеппарову, Арсену Бармамбетовичу, 1991 г.р.

[In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Dzhepparov, Arsen Barmambetovich, b. 1991 ]

Muslim Aliev

344082 Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, Большая Садовая ул., 31

Алиеву, Муслиму Нуриевичу, 1971 г.р. 

[In English:  344082 Russia, Rostov on the Don, 31 Bolshaya Sadovaya St., SIZO-4

Aliev, Muslim Nurievich, b. 1971 ]

Refat Alimov

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Алимову, Рефату Маметовичу, 1991 г.р.       

[In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Alimov, Refat Mametovich, b. 1991 ]

Enver Bekirov

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Бекирову, Энверу Небиевичу, 1963 г.р

[In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Bekirov, Enver Nebiyevich, b. 1963 ]

Emir-Usein Kuku

344082 Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, Большая Садовая ул., 31

Куку, Эмиру-Усеину Кемаловичу, 1976 г.р.   

[In English:  344082 Russia, Rostov on the Don, 31 Bolshaya Sadovaya St., SIZO-4

Kuku, Emir-Usein Kemalovich, b. 1976 ]

VadimSiruk

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Сируку, Вадиму Андреевичу, 1989 г.р.

[In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Siruk, Vadim Andreevich, b. 1989 ]

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