Crimean Tatar activist jailed after new armed searches ‘for a video posted in 2012’
27-year-old Crimean Tatar activist Girai Kulametov was sentenced to ten days’ imprisonment on January 18 after he and his family were subjected to an early morning armed search. The pretext for this latest act of intimidation against a young man who was involved in the single-person pickets on October 14 proved to be a video posted on a social media page two years before Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.
The news spread very early on Thursday morning that contingents of enforcement officers had appeared at two homes – Kulametov’s in Stary Krym, and the home in Belgorod of Kemal Seityaev, who was reportedly also involved in the October 14 peaceful protests. According to Kulametov’s sister, the men turned up, banging on all the windows and removing computer technology. They did at least admit that Kulametov was facing administrative, not criminal, proceedings, though Kulametov was still taken away, with friends and a civic defender unable to find out his whereabouts for some time.
Seityaev was later fined one thousand roubles (a fairly nominal amount) for “keeping a song by Timur Mutsuraev on the social network VKontakte’, which was called ‘circulating extremist material’.
The charge against Kulametov was under Article 20.3 § 1 of Russia’s ‘code of administrative offences’ over alleged ‘propaganda’ of symbols of what Russia calls an extremist organization, or other banned symbols. The fact that the video was and remains entirely legal in Ukraine and that prosecution for acts committed outside Russia by non-Russian nationals, proved of no concern to ‘judge’ Roman Vitalievich Milhailov who found Kulametov ‘guilty’ and passed the 10-day sentence.
Both men were among the over 100 Crimean Tatars who held solitary pickets on October 14, under placards calling for the release of political prisoners and rejecting attempts to treat Crimean Muslims as ‘extremists’ or ‘terrorists’. At least Kulametov had also actively supported the Crimea Marathon, a civic initiative to raise money to pay the ever increasing number of huge fines imposed for legal pickets or for simply coming out on the street to show solidarity during armed searches of other Crimean Tatars’ homes.
The occupation regime has already ignored Russia’s own legislation and prosecuted 85 people for their totally legal actions on October 14 (see the racist excuses provided). It seems likely that the searches on January 18 and Kulametov’s imprisonment were also intended to send a clear message of what activists can expect for their civic position.
This is not the first time that the occupation authorities have dredged up social media posts from years ago as their excuse for jailing activists or lawyers.
In March 2017, Remzi Bekirov was jailed for three days, purportedly in connection with a social network post seven years earlier on a VKontakte page that he had long deleted.
Prominent human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was also detained after armed searches of his offices and home and then sentenced to 10 days’ imprisonment linked to a video posted quite legally in 2013.