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03.03.2020 | Halya Coynash
The right to life

Reshat Ametov, tortured to death for wanting his children to grow up free in Ukraine

   

Exactly six years ago today, Reshat Ametov, a 39-year-old Crimean Tatar father of three, was abducted from outside the Crimean parliament where he was standing in silent protest at Russia’s invasion. His savagely tortured body was found two weeks later   He was formally declared Hero of Ukraine in May 2017, informally much earlier.   

His disappearance was to be the first of many under Russian occupation, with none ever properly investigated by the occupation regime, although there is a video clearly showing the abduction. 

Lerane Khaibullayeva, a close friend of the family, has spoken of how Ametov had always “had a very clear civic position. He had, after all, come out in protest for the sake of his children.  He had always wanted them to live in a free, democratic country.”

We know that Ametov had tried to persuade around 30 neighbours, who were guarding their village against the armed paramilitaries helping Russian soldiers seize control, to join him in peaceful protest on 3 March 2014.  They were frightened and advised him to stay home himself, reminding him that he had small children.

Ametov set off alone, without telling his wife where he was going.  He took position on the square outside the Crimean parliament, holding a Ukrainian flag.  He spoke with journalists if they approached him, but otherwise stood in silent protest.   He had been there for about an hour and a half when he was abducted by armed paramilitaries. 

His mutilated body was found two weeks later, on March 15. His head had been bound with tape, and handcuffs were lying nearby.  The torturers had used something like a knife, and he died finally from brain damage after they gouged out his eyes.

Reshat Ametov’s last post on Facebook had been a question: “Russian friend, if they order you to, will you shoot at me?” 

His abductors, who were almost certainly also his murderers, can be clearly seen on video footage, as can the car he was driven away in, yet the de facto authorities under Russian control have claimed that they can’t identify the culprits and at one stage even terminated the ‘case’, with the excuse being that “the suspected killer” was fighting in Donbas. 

In August 2019, the  Ukrainian Prosecutor for Crimea, named three men believed to have been behind the abduction.  The investigators accuse two Ukrainian nationals – 33-year-old Oleksandr Rudenko and Oleksandr Bahlyuk (44)  – of having carried out the abduction and murder, under the direction of 53-year-old retired Russian military man, Yevgeny Skripnik


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