war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Another Crimean Tatar sentenced over meeting with Mustafa Dzhemiliev


A ‘court’ in Russian-occupied Crimea has passed a one-year suspended sentence on Edem Osmanov over the peaceful protest on May 3 when veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev was prevented from entering his homeland.  

Edem’s father Mustafa Osmanov is an activist of the Crimean Tatar national movement who earned warm gratitude in Dec 2013 when he brought ingredients from Crimea to cook pilaf for freezing EuroMaidan protesters.  The family home had earlier been subjected to an unrelated search on a bizarre pretext.

Edem was arrested on Jan 19, reportedly with the police using violence against him.  He was the fifth Crimean Tatar to be detained in a ‘case’ widely seen as being aimed at intimidating Crimean Tatars and others who oppose Russia’s occupation of their home.

The ‘Case’

Less than 2 months after Russian invaded and then annexed Crimea, a 5-year-ban was issued against the world-renowned veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement Mustafa Dzhemiliev.  The ban on entering his native Crimea under Russian occupation was first announced on April 22, then denied, only to be enforced on May 2. 

The Mejlis or representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar People responded by cancelling all events linked with the Spring festival Hyrdylez. 

Around 5 thousand Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians angered by the ban arrived at the Armyansk border crossing between mainland Ukraine and Crimea to accompany Mustafa Dzhemiliev who arrived by car from Kyiv.  

They were confronted by a large contingent of OMON (and, seemingly, Berkut) riot police, etc., there to prevent the 71-year-old from entering his homeland.  There was a very tense standoff, probably a few scuffles, however no major incidents and it  was decided, specifically to avoid likely bloodshed, that Mustafa Dzhemiliev would return to Kyiv.  The only actual ‘offences’ reported at the time were that roads were blocked in protest at the repressive measures against Dzhemiliev. 

The following day Poklonskaya sent two reports to the Russian Investigative Committee and FSB “for the organization of criminal prosecution in connection with unlawful public protests” by Crimean Tatars in Armyansk.   She also issued Refat Chubarov, head of the Mejlis, or representative assembly of the Crimean Tatars with a warning that the Mejlis could be dissolved, claiming that the protest was “action of an extremist nature”. 

A Crimean Human Rights Field Mission spokesperson reported that around 200 people had been fined between 10 and 40 thousand roubles on administrative charges (an ‘unauthorized rally’ and ‘not obeying the police’). 

The arrests began six months later, in October over supposed violence against police officers – none of which had been reported at the time.  All men were initially remanded in custody for two months.  The men arrested included Crimean Tatar activist Tair Smedlyaev who was stopped while driving with his two sons, one of whom was only three and a half, and taken into custody.  The judge was reported to have based the detention order on the prosecution’s claim that 60 people had asserted that Smedlyaev was an ‘extremist’. 

The supposed ‘investigation’ was used as justification for a range of repressive measures, including searches and interrogations. 

The sentence passed on Edem Osmanov has nothing to do with justice, but it could have been worse.  According to Nariman Dzhelyal, First Deputy Head of the Mejlis, the prosecutor had demanded a 2 year term of imprisonment.  In June 24-year-old Musa Abkerimov received a four-year suspended sentence, and the final hearing and presumably verdict is expected on Dec 9 against Tair Smedlyaev. 

Halya Coynash
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