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.

Russia uses wholesale arrests to try to crush Crimean Tatar human rights movement

Halya Coynash
A prominent human rights NGO has condemned the recent operation against Crimean Tatar activists and declared all 24 men political prisoners imprisoned for their civic position and human rights work

Russia is using fabricated charges carrying huge sentences to try to crush the Crimean Solidarity movement in occupied Crimea and all Crimean Tatar human rights activists.  This is the damning assessment of the Memorial Human Rights Centre which has recognized as political prisoners all 24 Crimean Tatar activists* arrested in Russia’s most recent ‘operation’.   

Such a conclusion is hardly surprising given the scale of the attack and the fact that literally all of those targeted are civic activists involved in helping political prisoners and their families, and in many cases, reporting on rights abuses for the civic initiative Crimean Solidarity.  Memorial’s analysis is, however, important in highlighting both the flawed nature of the charges which Russia has now illegally brought against 55 Ukrainian Muslims in Crimea, and the fact that it is clearly using such prosecutions as a way of trying to silence Crimean Tatars with an active civic position. 

The ‘operation’ that began on 27 March 2019 was the largest-scale wave of armed searches and arrests since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.  The FSB and other armed and masked enforcement officers turned up at the homes of 24 activists from Simferopol.  Judging by initial reports, such as that of lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, it seems likely that they planted ‘prohibited literature’ during their ‘searches’ of these homes.  Four men were not at home, however three of them (civic journalists Osman Arifmemetov and Remzi Bekirov, as well as activist Vladlen Abdulkadyrov  were seized and violently beaten that evening.  It seems likely that the FSB had planned this case with 24 ‘defendants’, so when the 24th man,  Edem Yayachikov, was (seemingly) not found, they arrested another activist, Rayim Aivazov instead.  Aivazov described his arrest during the detention hearing, saying that he had been beaten and subjected to a mock execution.

The first 23 activists were taken almost immediately to Russia, where they are being held in three different pre-trial prisons in the Rostov oblast.  There are no grounds for their detention at all, and the brutal speed with which they were taken away from Crimea is yet further proof that this was a targeted operation aimed at maximum terrorization.

Memorial HRC first addresses the question of the charges that the men are facing.  All are accused of ‘involvement’ in the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, a pan-Islamist party which is legal in Ukraine.  It points out that it has consistently condemned such prosecutions and says that Russia is the only country in the world that has declared Hizb ut-Tahrir a ‘terrorist organization’.

In not one of the criminal prosecutions that we are aware of, that have resulted in more than 250 Muslims being imprisoned, has there been any sign of terrorism, or even of plans or discussion of terrorist acts or the use of weapons”.

“This time repression is directed not merely against peaceful Muslims, not simply against Crimean Tatars, but against peaceful civic resistance to the Kremlin’s political repression in Crimea. People who have provided victims with information support, who organized parcels to prisoners and help for their families, and regularly attended politically motivated court hearings, have now ended up behind bars. Most of the arrested men are connected with the human rights movement Crimean Solidarity which supports victims of persecution.  It is extremely likely that in this situation, the convenient and already standard charge of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir is purely a pretext and means for crushing Crimean Tatars’ civic solidarity and activism.”

It should be stressed that Russia’s attack on civic and human rights activists did not begin with the 24 men whom Memorial has now declared political prisoners.  Human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku has now been imprisoned on the same fabricated charges for over three years.  The attack on Crimean Solidarity which was created after the arrests of Kuku and nine other men between February and May 2016, began in October 2017.  Since then, a significant percentage of the Crimean Tatars arrested on Hizb ut-Tahrir charges have been Crimean Solidarity civic journalists and activists. 

Details here: New arrests add 55 children to the victims of Russia’s war against Crimean Tatars

One of the advantages to Russia of such mass arrests is that it is hard to be aware of each individual victim and his family.  Each, however, needs our support – both through letters showing that they are not forgotten and in efforts informing politicians and the media about their cases. 

Please write to at least one of the men.  This also sends a clear message to Moscow that its treatment of the men is being watched. 

The list below is broken up according to the SIZO [remand prison] where the men are held.  There is a full alphabetical list with slightly more detail at the bottom of the page.

Letters need to be in Russian. If that is not a problem, please do remember that the letters will be seen by a censor and avoid anything obviously ‘political’ or linked with this case, or other cases of persecution. If it is a problem, there is a sample letter which could be simply written out, maybe with photos or pictures.

As mentioned, Russia has never arrested so many activists at one time before and the sheer amount of words below, can be overwhelming.  Please use the example under the sample letter, as guide how to write other names (you can use the Russian or English for the addresses).

Sample letter

Добрый день,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение.

Мы о Вас помним.   

[Hello, I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  You are not forgotten. ] 

Just cut and paste the addresses with the men’s name and year of birth 

For example, to Vladlen Abdulkadyrov at SIZO No. 1 in Rostov-on-Don

In Russian:

РФ, 344022 Ростовская область, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Горького д. 219 ФКУ СИЗО-1

Абдулкадыров,  Владлен Васильевич 28.12.1979

In English:

Russian Federation, 344022 Rostov oblast, Rostov-on-Don, SIZO No. 1

Abdulkadyrov, Vladlen Vasilyevich, b. 28.12.1979 


Rostov-on-Don, SIZO No. 1

РФ, 344022 Ростовская область, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Горького д. 219 ФКУ СИЗО-1

[English] Russian Federation, 344022 Rostov oblast, Rostov-on-Don, SIZO No. 1

Абдулкадыров Владлен Васильевич 28.12.1979    

[Abdulkadyrov, Vladlen Vasilyevich, b. 28.12.1979 ]

Адилов Билял Абдурахманович 27.05.1970   

[Adilov, Bilyal Abdurakhmanovich, b. 27.05.1970]  

Арифмеметов Осман Фератович 28.08.1985 

[Arifmemetov, Osman Feratovich, b. 28.08.1985 ]  

Базаров Фарход Эгамбердиевич 22.08.1986  

[Bazarov, Farkhod Egamberdievich, b. 22.08.1986 ]

Бекиров Аким Экремович 18.10.1988            

[Bekirov, Akim Ekremovich, b. 18.10.1988 ]

Газиев Сервет Абдураимович 15.04.1960     

[Gaziev, Servet Abduraimovich, 15.04.1960 ]

Сейтабдиев Сейтвели Эскендерович 16.03.1994  

[Seitabdiev, Seitveli Eskenderovich, b. 16.03.1994 ]

Шейхалиев Рустем Динарович 22.06.1979    

[Sheikhaliev, Rustem Dinarovich, b.22.06.1979 ]

Rostov-on-Don, SIZO No. 4

РФ, 344082 Ростовская область, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Большая Садовая, 31, ФКУ СИЗО №4

[English] Russian Federation, 344082 Rostov oblast, Rostov-on-Don, 31 Bolshaya Sadovaya St. SIZO No. 4

Бекиров, Ремзи Рустемович 20.02.1985        

[Bekirov, Remzi Rustemovich, b. 20.02.1985 ]

Изетов, Риза Мустафаевич 24.01.1979         

[Izetov, Riza Mustafaevich, b. 24.01.1979 ]

Сулейманов, Руслан Серверович 21.04.1983 

[Suleymanov, Ruslan Serverovich, b. 21.04.1983 ] 

Умеров, Шабан Изетович 22.10.1969            

[Umerov, Shaban Izetovich, b. 22.10.1969 ]

Rostov-on-Don, SIZO No. 5

РФ, 344064 Ростовская область, Ростов-на-Дону,  ул. Тоннельная 4, ФКУ СИЗО-5

[English] Russian Federation, 344064 Rostov oblast, Rostov-on-Don, 4 Tonnelnaya St., SIZO No. 5

Гафаров Джемиль Абдуллаевич 31.05.1962   

[Gafarov, Dzhemil Abdullaevich, b. 31.05.1962 ]  

Османов Эрфан Серверович 03.09.1982      

[Osmanov, Erfan Serverovich, b. 03.09.1982 ]  

Яников Асан Алиевич 11.09.1986                  

[Yanikov, Asan Alievich, 11.09.1986 ]

Shakty, SIZO no. 4

РФ,  346519  Ростовская область,  г. Шахты, п. Кирпичный, ФКУ СИЗО №4  

[English] Russian Federation 346519, Rostov oblast, Shakhty, Kirpichny, SIZO No. 4

Абдулгазиев Тофик Султанович 19.06.1981  

[Abdulgaziev, Tofik Sultanovich, b. 19.06.1981 ]

Абдуллаев Иззет Мустафаевич 02.10.1986   

[Abdullaev, Yashar Seisetdinovich, b. 02.10.1986 ]

Каримов Алим Эгамбердиевич 08.04.1994   

[Karimov, Alim Egamberdievich, b. 08.04.19 ]

Муединов Яшар Сейсетдинович 14.04.1968 

[Muyedinov, Yashar Seisetdinovich, b. 14.04.1968 ]  

Taganrog, SIZO No. 2

РФ, 347910 Ростовская область, г. Таганрог, ул. Ленина 175 ФКУ СИЗО-2

[English] Russian Federation, 347910 Rostov oblast, Taganrog, ul. Lenina 175, SIZO No. 2

Абдурахманов Меджит Анафиевич 02.02.1975   

[Abdurakhmanov, Medzhit Anafievich, b. 02.02.1975 ]  

Аметов Энвер Эсфиндиярович 02.08.1975   

[Ametov, Enver Esfindiyarovich, 02.08.1975 ]  

Муртаза Сейран Кемалович 27.11.1983      

[Murtaza, Seiran Kemalovich, 27.11.1983 ]

Сейтхалилов Рустем Нариманович 18.01.1984 

[Seitkhalilov, Rustem Narimanovich, b. 18.01.1984 ]


Izet Abdulaev, b. 22.10.1986, has actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  He and his wife have one child, and are expecting a second.

Tofik Abdulgaziev, b. 19.06.1981. is a Crimean Solidarity activist, who has done the sound recordings for Crimean Solidarity meetings and for the civic initiative for the children of political prisoners ‘Crimean Childhood, and has been involved in organizing events for the children.  His three children have now joined the 166 children whose fathers have been taken away.

Vladlen Abdulkadyrov. 28/12.1979, is an activist who was involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners.  He has three children.

Medzhit Abdurakhmanov, b. 02.02.1975, is a Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has two children.

Bilyal Adilov, b. 27.05.1970, is a religious figure who has also actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  He has eight children.

Rayim Aivazov , b. 30.01.1994, is a Crimean Solidarity activist who was involved in organizing parcels of food and other supplies to the many Crimean political prisoners held in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. He and his wife, Mavile, have a daughter who is a year and a half old, and Mavile is expecting their second child. 

Enver Ametov, b. 02.08.1975, actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  He has three children.

Osman Arifmemetov, b. 28.08.1985, is an activist and Crimean Solidarity civic journalist.  He has two children.

Farid Bazarov, b. 22.08.1986, Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has four children.

Akim Bekirov, b. 18.10.1968 is a civic activist who was involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners, and in organizing IT security.  His wife is expecting their second child.

Remzi Bekirov, b. 20.02.1985, is a Crimean Solidarity civic journalist.  He has three children.

Dzhemil Gafarov, b. 31.05.1962, actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.   

Servet Gaziev, 15.04.1960, actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Riza Izetov, b. 24.01.1979, is a human rights activist and Crimean Solidarity civic journalist.  His wife is expecting their third child.

Alim Karimov, b. 08.04.1994, is a Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has one child.

Seiran Murtaza, b. 27.11.1983, actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings. He has two children.

Yashar Muyedinov, b. 14.04.1968, is a Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has eight children.

Erfan Osmanov, b. 03.09.1982, actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  He has two children.

Seitveli Seitabdiev, b.16.03.1994, is a Crimean Solidarity activist. He has two children.

Rustem Seitkhalilov, b. 18.01.1984, is a Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has three children.

Rustem Sheikhaliev, b. 22.06.1979, is a Crimean Solidarity civic journalist. He has three children.

Ruslan Suleymanov, b. 21.04.1983, is a Crimean Solidarity civic journalist and activist.  He has three children.

Shaban Umerov, b. 22.10.1969, is a Crimean Solidarity activist.  He has three children.

Asan Yanikov, b. 11.09.1986, is a civic activist involved in organizing food parcels for political prisoners.

Edem Yayachikov, 01.05.1982, is a Crimean Solidarity activist, who actively attended all political ‘court’ hearings.  He has three children.

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