Crimean Tatar leader’s detention upheld, arrests continue
Yet another Crimean Tatar has been arrested in connection with a criminal investigation by the occupation regime that indicates either legal illiteracy or truly staggering disregard for rule of law. The arrest comes a day after the Crimean Supreme Court upheld the detention of Akhtem Chiygoz, deputy head of the Mejlis or Crimean Tatar representative assembly, over the same ‘case’ which he calls politically motivated.
Eskender Kantemirov was arrested on Feb 7 after a search was carried out of his home, and then remanded in custody for two months by a court in Simferopol Asan Chebiyev, a close relative of one of the coordinators of the Crimean Tatar Rights Committee Abmedzhyt Suleymanov, appears to also be facing similar charges, but has been released from custody.
The detention until Feb 19 of Akhtem Chyyhoz was, however, upheld on Feb 6, with the Crimean Supreme Court ignoring both the evidence, including video footage, pointing to Chyyhoz’s innocence of the charges, but also to the legal absurdity of the charges he faces.. Chyyhoz is accused of ‘offences’ according to Russian law which took place before Russia annexed Crimea.
Akhtem Chiygoz was arrested on Jan 29. The following day the FSB and armed officers carried out a 10-hour search of his home in Bakhchysarai. His wife, Elmira Ablyalimova was alone and none of the people who came to show support were allowed in to the premises. She reports that she was surrounded throughout the search by around 10 men whose treatment of her was cynical, insolent and shamelessly boorish. “Two officers – senior representative of the Crimean Police Alexei Malivanets and senior FSB officer Andrei Kudashov, without watching their words, belittled me as a person, a citizen, a Crimean Tatar, as a woman and as a person who follows Islam”. There were gross infringements of procedure for such searches with the supposed independent witnesses brought with the officers and on first name terms with them.
The officers left with one bullet from a hunting gun, computer technology, mobile phones and savings (2 thousand USD and 100 EUR). The photos at the time show that the search was carried out with considerable damage to the property.
Chiygoz is accused of ‘organizing and taking part in mass disturbances’. Two courts under Russian rule have now ignored clear evidence, including video footage, showing that Chiygoz actively sought to calm protesters, as did other members of the Mejlis present.
The head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov has stated from Kyiv that it was in any case he who organized the demonstration outside the Crimean parliament on Feb 26. The Russian occupation regime has banished him, as well as veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev, from their homeland placing them out of reach in this latest offensive which seems at least in part another attack on the Mejlis.
On Feb 26, 2014 there were two demonstrations – one by Crimean Tatars, the other by supporters of the Russian Unity party whose leader Sergei Aksyonov was installed in power by Russian soldiers the following day, Feb 27. Not unexpectedly, all mention of planned prosecutions targets Crimean Tatars.
A protest is planned in Bakhchysarai for Feb 19, the day when Chiygoz is due to be released. Notification of the plan to hold the meeting was lodged on Feb 5 by Ilmi Umerov, a member of the Mejlis. He explains that on that same day officers from the FSB Centre for Fighting Extremism turned up at his home, asking how they were planning to hold the protest. Umerov says that the city authorities have 10 days to respond and he expects them to refuse to sanction the demonstration.
The same Crimean Supreme Court also rubber stamped three other rulings on Friday. It rejected the appeals against his deportation from Crimea of Ukrainian national and Crimean Tatar human rights activist Sinaver Kadyrov; against the detention of Edem Osmanov, the latest person arrested with a delay of 6 months and on highly questionable charges linked with the peaceful protest on May 3; and the detention of Seidamet Gemedzhi, a land protests activist, also remanded in custody on Jan 28 for 2 months.
Less than a year after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, there are ever more grounds for the belief held by many Crimean Tatars that these repressive measures, arrests, disappearances, etc. are aimed at forcing all but the most passive Crimean Tatars to flee their homeland.