76-year-old Crimean Tatar charged with ‘resisting the police’ for defence of political prisoner Akhtem Chiygoz
76-year-old Server Karametov was arrested on Tuesday while holding a peaceful picket outside the High Court in Simferopol where the ‘trial’ is taking place of Crimean Tatar leader and recognized political prisoner Akhtem Chiygoz. Accused of both an ‘unauthorized protest’ and of ‘resisting the police’, he was held, first in a police station, then at the court for over 10 hours, even after he was taken ill and an ambulance needed to be called.
All video footage and photos show clearly that the elderly Crimean Tatar had not obstructed the way, and was simply standing with a placard reading “Putin, our children are not terrorists!”
He was detained by three officers, one of whom was videoing the entire detention, and physically manhandled when he refused to leave.
As lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, Server Karametov suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, walks with difficulty, and has a pronounced tremor and restricted control over his movements. It is certainly true that he ‘showed resistance’, though his physical condition probably made his movements rather jerky. He was, understandably, outraged that the police officers were pushing him away when he was simply defending political prisoners. The whole shameful arrest of a frail elderly man who was dragged away against his will can be seen here:
He was held for around four hours in the police station, without the medication he needed to take at 1.30, and without any food, only water.
Despite his age and fragility, this is the second time under Russian occupation that he has been detained for solitary pickets which are in full accordance even with the Russian legislation being illegally applied in Crimea. On May 18, the anniversary of the 1944 Deportation of the Crimean Tatar People, he was taken away by police while standing with a placard honouring the victims of that crime.
On May 18, he was released after several hours without any protocol being drawn up. This time the elderly man was taken to the Zheleznodorozhny Court to face grotesque administrative charges. There were glaring infringements of procedure, with even the protocol given to the court being different from that given to Server Karametov and his lawyers.
All of this was ignored by the court which fined the elderly man who had been holding a placard telling the truth, no more, 10 thousand roubles for supposedly holding an unsanctioned protest.
The second, quite surreal, charge of ‘resisting the police’ is to be heard on Wednesday morning with the same result, unfortunately, likely.
The elderly Crimean Tatar had come, as have many other people, to show support for Akhtem Chiygoz. All view this judicial farce which Chiygoz is even prevented from attending in person as effectively a trial against the Crimean Tatar people. There are strong grounds for believing that this is exactly right, that the legally nonsensical charges against Chiygoz were brought as part of an offensive against the Crimean Tatar Mejlis [representative assembly] for its firm opposition to Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian Crimea. Chiygoz is charged over a demonstration that took part before Russia’s annexation of Crimea and therefore, even by Russian standards, something over which it has no jurisdiction. There was no ‘mass riot’, as claimed, however the demonstration thwarted the Kremlin’s attempt to achieve an effective seizure of control of Crimea without openly deploying Russian soldiers.
A very large percentage of the Crimean Ukrainians whom Russia is imprisoning on politically-motivated and / or flawed charges are Crimean Tatars. There are currently 69 children whose fathers have been imprisoned in Crimea or Russia (details here).