search  
Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
print
19.02.2020 | Halya Coynash
Human Rights Abuses in Russian-occupied Crimea

Russian "experts" claim calls to pray for political prisoners are proof of terrorism

From left Seiran Saliyev, Ernes Ametov, Server Mustafayev, Memet Belyalov, Timur Ibragimov, Server Zekiryaev, Edem Smailov, Marlen Asanov Photo Crimean Solidarity
   

International outrage over Russia’s huge sentences against seven young men from Penza for involvement in an entirely fictitious “Network” is undoubtedly warranted, however frustratingly selective.  Eight Crimean Tatar activists are facing equivalent or longer sentences with the alleged ‘terrorism’ equally fabricated and the illegality compounded by Russia’s violation of international law in applying its repressive measures in occupied Crimea.

The eight Crimean Tatars were all, to varying degrees, active in the civic initiative Crimean Solidarity, formed to support political prisoners and their families, and to provide information about rights violations. It was clear from the first six men’s arrests in October 2017 that they had been targeted for their activism, but now the Russian ‘experts’ used by the FSB [security service] have effectively confirmed this.

During the 19th hearing at the Southern District Military Court in Rostov, the prosecutor, Evgeny Kolpikov read out various linguistic and religious ‘expert assessments’ carried out by cultural specialist Timur Urazmetov and religious specialist Yelena Khazimullina from the Bashkortostan state pedagogical university.

Both were commissioned to listen to illicit recordings of conversations between some of the defendants in a mosque.

The FSB only uses individuals whose ‘assessments’ confirm the charges laid, and this case is no exception, but some of the arguments are of stunning cynicism. 

In finding parts of the conversation that allegedly ‘prove’ that the men are involved in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a peaceful movement which is legal in Ukraine, one of the ‘experts’ claimed to find this in a conversation about how Crimean Tatars should pray for those imprisoned. “One can assume that the names are mentioned of convicted members of Hizb ut-Tahrir,”   And so they should be. The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre considers all those sentenced merely on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir to be political prisoners.  It has repeatedly pointed out that Russia is the only country in the world to have labelled Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization, and has never provided any good reason for the 2003 Supreme Court ruling, declaring it terrorist.  Memorial analyst Vitaly Ponomaryov believes it likely that the decision was taken purely because the Russian authorities needed an excuse to send Uzbek Muslims back to Uzbekistan where they faced religious persecution.  

Since 2014, Russia has been using a politically motivated court ruling as excuse for passing sentences of up to 22 years’ imprisonment and, in occupied Crimea, for imprisoning Ukrainians for their civic activism and journalism.

The ‘religious expert’ also claimed that “there are statements which propagandize the superiority of Muslims”.  Anybody familiar with Crimean Solidarity and acquainted with the defendants would have reason to be wary of such an assertion.  If, as seems likely, all that is meant is that devout Muslims believe their faith to be right, then this is surely typical of adherents to any faith.  The Russian Supreme Court, incidentally, was willing to accept the same argument as supposed grounds for banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses as ‘extremist’.

When required, anything can be turned on its head and presented as incriminating. The ‘experts’, for example, asserted that the defendants had “veiled their affiliation to Hizb ut-Tahrir”, but then claimed that this proved “conspiracy”.   

‘Terrorism’ in article of the Russian criminal code alone

Although many civic activists had already faced persecution earlier, the armed searches and arrests on 11 October 2017 marked a new and very serious escalation in Russia’s offensive against Crimean Solidarity.  Six men were arrested that day: Crimean Solidarity civic journalists Timur Ibragimov; Seiran Saliyev and Suleyman (Marlen) Asanov; Crimean Solidarity photographer Ernes Ametov; volunteer, organizing parcels for political prisoners, Memet Belyalov, and Server Zekiryaev.   Then on 21 May 2018, the FSB came for Crimean Solidarity coordinator and civic journalist Server Mustafayev and Edem Smailov, who was active in organizing children’s festive events and is also the leader of a local religious community.

The men are not accused of any recognizable crime, merely of alleged ‘involvement’ in Hizb ut-Tahrir.  The FSB has designated, for reasons that are quite unclear, three of the men – Asanov; Belyalov and Ibragimov – as being ‘organizers of a Hizb ut-Tahrir group’ (under Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code), with this carrying a sentence of up to life imprisonment.  The others are accused of ‘involvement’ in such an alleged ‘group’ (under Article 205.5 § 2). 

All eight men were informed in February 2019 that they were facing another charge – of ‘‘planning to violently seize power’’ under Article 278 of Russia’s criminal code. Even if the men had been accused of actual crimes or of hoarding weapons, the idea that 8 men could be planning to violently topple the Russian regime is absurd.  Memorial HRC has pointed to evidence that the FSB applies this extra charge in cases where men refuse to ‘admit guilt’, with this essentially meaning all illegal prosecutions of Ukrainian Muslims in Crimea.

PLEASE WRITE TO THE MEN!

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.

At the moment all eight political prisoners are in the same SIZO [remand prison] in Rostov-on-Don.  The address is below and can be written in either Russian or in English transcription.  The particular addressee’s name and year of birth need to be given.

Sample 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

ErnesAmetov

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

Аметову, Эрнесу Сейяровичу,  1985 г.р.

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

Ametov, Ernes Seyarovich, b. 1985  ]

Marlen Asanov

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

Асанову, Марлену Рифатовичу, 1977 г. р

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

Asanov, Marlen Rifatovich, b. 1977 ]

Memet Belyalov

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

Белялову, Мемету Решатовичу, 1989 г.р.  

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

Belyalov, Memet Reshatovich, b. 1989 ]

Timur Ibragimov

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

Ибрагимову, Тимуру Изетовичу, 1985 г.р.

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

Ibragimov, Timur Izetovich, b. 1985 ]

Server Mustafayev

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

Мустафаеву,  Серверу Рустемовичу, 1986 г.р.

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

Mustafayev, Server Rustemovich,  b. 1986 ]

Seiran Saliev

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

Салиеву,  Сейрану Алимовичу, 1985 г.р.

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

Saliev, Seiran Alimovich, b. 1985 ]

Edem Smailov

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

Смаилову,  Эдему Назимовичу, 1968 г.р.

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

Smailov, Edem Nazimovich, b. 1968 ]

Server Zekiryaev

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

Зекирьяеву, Серверу Зекиевичу, 1973 г.р.

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

Zekiryaev, Server Zekievich, b. 1973 ]


Recommend this post
X




forgot the password

registration

X

X

send me a new password