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06.03.2018 | Halya Coynash

Russia condemned for launching ‘machine of wholesale persecution’ in occupied Crimea

Muslim Aliev, right top Emir-Usein Kuku (and Aliev), bottom Vadim Siruk
   

On the eve of his 47th birthday, his third in Russian captivity, Crimean Tatar father of four, Muslim Aliev has been declared a political prisoner, together with five other Crimean Muslims, now on trial in Russia.  The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has given a devastating analysis of the charges Aliev, human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku; Refat Alimov; Enver Bekirov; Arsen Dzhepparov; and Vadim Siruk are facing, and the machine for wholesale persecution which Russia is now illegally using in occupied Crimea. 

Russia began persecuting people for alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir soon after the Russian Supreme Court in 2003 declared this peaceful pan-Islamist movement ‘terrorist’.  Hizb ut-Tahrir is not known to have committed an act of terrorism anywhere in the world and is legal in Ukraine and most countries. The Supreme Court kept the ruling secret until it was too late for Hizb ut-Tahrir or rights organizations to challenge it, and never provided a good reason for its decision.  No more, however, was needed as justification for the FSB, Russia’s security service, to conduct mass prosecutions, with men receiving sentences of up to life imprisonment merely on the unproven charge that they were ‘involved’ in the organization.

This is the second ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir case’ against Ukrainian Muslims since Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, and it is no accident that the Memorial HRC has seen no reason to wait for convictions before declaring the men political prisoners. 

Crimea is territory which Russia is occupying illegally and in accordance with international law, it has no right to change Ukrainian criminal legislation and replace it with its own.  Memorial notes that Hizb ut-Tahrir is absolutely legal in Ukraine.

This would already provide compelling grounds for demanding the immediate release of all 25 Crimean Muslims currently convicted of or facing such charges, but there is much more. 

Memorial writes that “Hizb ut-Tahrir cases are among the so-called ‘serial’ cases: the FSB obtains ‘high results’ (dozens of convictions) for minimum effort, practising mass persecution without any grounds”.

They expend minimum effort and get maximum benefit for themselves, since these cases are known to earn FSB officers promotions or other goodies.  One of the key figures behind this ‘Yalta’ case is Alexander Kompaneitsev, a former SBU officer who switched allegiance and is probably now eager to prove his worth to his new FSB paymasters. Kompaneitsev was behind previous attempts, in which Hizb ut-Tahrir was not even mentioned, to persecute Kuku for his human rights activities, and the two youngest of the prisoners – Alimov and Dzhepparov – were probably arrested because of refusals to agree to Kompaneitsev’s demands to give false testimony against the other men arrested.

One of the points of such FSB conveyor belt prosecutions is that they all follow the same pattern, with one ‘organizer’ and several people who face the less serious charge of ‘involvement’.

Muslim Aliev has been designated the role of ‘organizer’, under Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code, with this carrying a sentence of up to life imprisonment.  The other men are charged with ‘involvement’ under Article 205.5 § 2 with the sentence up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

All have also been charged with ‘preparing for violent seizure of power by an organized group according to a prior conspiracy.  This carries a sentence of up to 10 years.

Arsen Dzhepparov (left), Refat Alimov (Photos of Enver Bekirov are all very small, or from before his arrest))

Lest anybody believe that there must be some substance to these apparently serious charges, the Memorial Human Rights Centre has spelled out what the men are in fact charged with.

“According to the investigators, they held meetings at which they studied Hizb ut-Tahrir literature,  that organization’s view of a correct society; they discussed the socio-political situation (namely their attitude to Russia; Ukraine; Turkey and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People).

And defendants in such cases are accused of “preparation to seize power” since the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir envisages the building of a theocratic Islamic state at some unspecified time in the future.

In our view, these charges are unfounded.

Not only did the defendants not engage in terrorist activities, but they did not carry out any publicly dangerous activities at all”.

It should be stressed that the prosecution’s case is not based on any real evidence at all.  Sergei Legostov, Aliev’s lawyer, says that the only ‘evidence’ against Aliev and the five other men is part of a linguistic-religious ‘expert assessment’ of a recorded conversation “in the kitchen” where the men were discussing the situation in Russia, Ukraine, the fate of Crimea, the place of Islam in both countries and various religious postulates.

It is essentially on the basis of this one excerpt that Muslim Aliev could face up to life imprisonment and five other men, all but the youngest of whom have at least one child, could be imprisoned for 10 – 20 years. 

Please write to Muslim Aliev, Emir-Usein Kuku, Refat Alimov; Inver Bekirov; Arsen Dzhepparov; 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 crib letter below, perhaps adding a picture or photo. 

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.

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 ]

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 ]

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 ]

Arsen Dzhepparov

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 ]

Vadim Siruk

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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