Another Crimean Tatar arrested on surreal charges
A second Crimean Tatar has apparently been arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea on charges relating to a protest on Feb 26, 2014, the day before Russian soldiers seized control. QHAthat Asan Chebiyev, an activist of the Crimean Tatar national movement, was summoned for questioning on Feb 4 and has not been released.
This comes less than a week after Akhtem Chyyhoz, Deputy Head of the Mejlis or representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar People was arrested on charges of ‘organizing and taking part in mass disturbances’.
That arrest was profoundly cynical at two levels. There is, firstly, video footage directly refuting the allegations made against Chyyhoz and the head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov has stated that it was he who organized the demonstration that day. Since Russia has banished Chubarov, as well as veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev from their homeland, they have obviously looked for somebody else high up in the Mejlis to pin charges on.
The arrests also demonstrate staggering disregard for fundamental principles of law since a person cannot be tried under Russian law when the event in question took place before Russia annexed Crimea. Russian legislation on peaceful assembly is far more repressive than Ukrainian.
According to another deputy head of the Mejlis, Nariman Dzhelyal, the Crimean ‘prosecutor’ has passed 6 cases to the Russian Investigative Committee over the demonstration on Feb 26, 2014.
Two people were reported to have died that day, although one of the people apparently died of a heart attack. There were two demonstrations that day – one organized by Crimean Tatars, and a counter-demonstration by the Russian Unity party run by Sergei Aksyonov. Both he and his party were then extremely marginal in Crimean politics, yet Aksyonov proclaimed himself ‘prime minister’ following a parliamentary ‘session’ held at gunpoint on Feb 27.
It is typical of the nature of this ‘criminal case’, that only Crimean Tatars are suspected of trouble.
There is increasing belief among Crimean Tatars that the repressive measures, arrests etc. are all aimed at driving all but the most passive and cooperative Crimean Tatars out of Crimea.