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Crimean Tatar human rights activist accused of ‘extremism’


Emir Huseyn Kuku, a member of the Contact Group on Human Rights, is under investigation in Russian-occupied Crimea over material posted on his Facebook page.  He is accused of “extremist” publications, on the basis, the FSB [security service] claim, of “linguistic and criminal assessments”.  His wife has now also been questioned, and the ‘case’ passed to Russia’s Investigative Committee.  If convicted, he would face a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment.

As with other Crimeans, the Investigative Committee and FSB have shown no concern for fundamental legal principles such as jurisdiction, and have included material posted well before Russia invaded and annexed Crimea.  There are at least 42 texts, with many of them posts, or reposts, on religious subjects,    They include references to various Internet sites, either Russian or Ukrainian, as well as to YouTube.

“In the first instance they were interested in an address to Crimean Muslims, videos, including foreign ones with translations addressing Muslims of Crimea with words of support, sympathy and calls to be patient because we find ourselves in such a position. They even fixated on the words “You are glorious, you believe in Allah”  [the word in Russian is славные, and could simply express strong support / approval].  They’ve begun a linguistic analysis of this phrase. All of this is heading to [charges of inciting] interethnic enmity, Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code”.

The FSB apparently also objected to simple reposts, without any added commentary, of news on political issues.

One of the texts mention is a repost from Emil Kurbedinov, the lawyer endeavouring to represent four Muslims charged in occupied Crimea with being members of Hizb ut-Takhrir, a pan-Muslim organization which is totally legal in Ukraine (and other countries), but labelled ‘terrorist’ in Russia.  The court hearing Kurbedinov describes in his text was grotesque and, as he puts in, “an example of how members of the security service, the prosecutor’s office, the police and court should not behave”.  The case itself is of major concern, and has been criticized by, among others, the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission and the Sova Centre.  The irregularities have been flagrant from the outset with Kurbedinov quite illegally prevented from defending his clients.

Criticism of the authorities

The investigators appear to have gone for any references to statements by veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev about repressive measures used against Crimean Tatars, Crimean Muslims or political activists, about attempts to drive them out of Crimea.  All that they have collected, Emir-Usein Kuku points out, constitutes criticism of the authorities.  One way or another, he believes, they are trying to claim that the aim is to create a negative image of Russia. 

This is not the first run-in Emir-Usein Kuku has had with the occupation authorities. As reported, the representative of the Contact Group on Human Rights for the Yalta region was detained in April this year.  A search was first carrying out of his home, with the FSB removing both his and his wife’s laptops, a telephone and seven religious books not on Russia’s list of prohibited literature.   He later posted photos of the marks from beating he had received, and said that if he disappeared, they should look for him at the Yalta FSB office. 

The Facebook page can easily be checked, and shows nothing to warrant charges of ‘extremism’ or ‘incitement to ethnic enmity’.  The same can be said of posts published on VKontakte by Rafis Kashapov.  This did not stop a Russian court from sentencing him to three years imprisonment.

Halya Coynash
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