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Ammunition planted in new offensive against Crimean Tatar Mejlis official


Mustafa Asaba, Head of the Belgorod Regional Mejlis, has been detained and taken away to Simferopol after a search was carried out of his home.  This is the second such search in the last 6 months making the reported attempt to plant ammunition on him especially cynical. 

The first search of Mustafa Asaba’s home was on Sept. 16, 2014. Five brochures were removed – one on religious themes, four about the Crimean Tatar movement.  That search took place the same day as the armed search lasting 11 hours of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis building in Simferopol which demonstrated a major escalation in the offensive against the Mejlis, or Crimean Tatar representative assembly.  

According to information received by Crimean Tatar rights activist Eskender Bariev, some ammunition (bullet cartridges) were planted on this occasion.  He writes that there is “cynicism in how primitively they do things. In the home of an activist of the national movement who wouldn’t allow anybody to take up arms they find cartridges.. Particularly since you’d really need to be an idiot to collect and keep ammunition in your home after a search half a year ago”.

The cynicism is unfortunately far-reaching.  The search on Tuesday is understood to be over the so-called ‘Feb 26’ case in which the occupation regime is prosecuting Crimean Tatars under Russian legislation in connection with a pre-annexation demonstration which took place under Ukrainian rule and according to Ukrainian law. 

Four Crimean Tatars, including the Deputy Head of the Mejlis Akhtem Chiygoz, have been formally charged, with three held in custody.    

Having banned the Head of the Mejlis Refat Chubarov from Crimea, the occupation regime clearly went for the next person down and arrested Chiygoz on Jan 29.  There is no evidence against any of the men, and the case is a legal nonsense, however there is also video footage clearly showing Chiygoz and the other members of the Mejlis present trying to calm protesters.

The large protest outside parliament on Feb 26, 2014, was organized by Crimean Tatars to prevent an attempt to seize control of parliament.  There were effectively two demonstrations in the same place: one organized by Crimean Tatars and EuroMaidan activists, the other by the Russian Unity party run by Sergei Aksyonov.  Both the latter and his party were extremely marginal in Crimean politics, yet Aksyonov then proclaimed himself ‘prime minister’ following a parliamentary ‘session’ under Russian soldiers’ machine guns on Feb 27.

Two people died that day: one elderly man of a heart attack, and another elderly woman died later in hospital, possibly after being crushed by the crowd.

It is typical of the nature of this ‘criminal case’, that only Crimean Tatars are suspected of trouble.  The Russian Investigative Committee in Crimea claims to have over 150 ‘witnesses’ and reports that 40 people have been given victim status. 

The case has been condemned by the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission and appears a clear attempt to terrorise and intimidate Crimean Tatars.  Tragically, it is one of many.

Halya Coynash

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