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Forgotten ‘Crimean saboteur’ prisoner defended Ukraine during Russian invasion
Back in 2014 Crimean Tatar Ridvan Suleymanov was among the Ukrainians who held out for over 20 days, refusing to abandon a Ukrainian military unit surrounded by Russian soldiers. Two years later, lawyer Emil Kurbedinov
26-year-old Suleymanov was the first Ukrainian to be arrested by the FSB at the end of July 2016. Why is not necessarily clear since his videoed ‘confession’ was broadcast after those of two other Ukrainians – Yevhen Panov and Andriy Zakhtei – and clearly linked to their testimony which both have since said was obtained through torture.
On August 10, the FSB publicly
As is increasingly the FSB’s style, the only ‘evidence’ was from videoed ‘confessions’, first from Panov, then Zakhtei and then on Aug 12, from Suleymanov. Panov looked obviously beaten, and has since given a harrowing account of torture, as has Zakhtei, making their ‘confessions’ to planning acts of sabotage for Ukrainian military intelligence meaningless.
It was only after Suleymanov was shown on Russian television, that anything was learned of his arrest.
He apparently left Crimea after Russia’s annexation, and had been working in construction for around a year before his arrest in Zaporizhye. His parents, however, live in Simferopol, so it seems unlikely that he would have engaged in activities that would have made it impossible for him to visit Crimea.
Suleymanov’s ‘confession’ coincided with an ominous claim from an official in the occupation government that Ukraine was planning “new sabotage” under the guise of acts of resistance by Crimean Tatars.
The FSB claims in Suleymanov’s case seem implausible. Crimean Tatars have been particularly targeted since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and are far more likely to be under close surveillance. Yet he is supposed to have been assigned the task of planting bombs in sensitive locations.
It did seem possible, given the constant attempts to present Crimean Tatars involved in the Crimean Blockade as ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’ and try to connect them with the so-called Islamic State, that Crimean Tatars might be targeted here.
At present, it is not at all clear where the FSB’s first ‘Ukrainian Crimean saboteur’ case is going. Panov and Zakhtei have been held in Moscow since shortly after the European Court of Human Rights’ intervention forced the FSB, after 2 months, to let Panov see a lawyer for the first time. Panov immediately explained that his ‘confession’ had been given under torture. He and Zakhtei disappeared and were reported to be in Moscow a week later.
Typically, the only information that is available about a fourth person – Volodymyr Prysich – came from his ‘confession’ broadcast on pro-Kremlin Russian television.
It seems possible that Suleymanov was needed for the videoed ‘confession’ and for other surreal accusations. During a detention hearing on Dec 29, Kurbedinov