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 refuses to comply with ECHR order to hospitalize Ukrainian political prisoner

Halya Coynash
The Russian FSB is now trying to claim that the European Court of Human Rights directive ordering Russia to immediately hospitalize Edem Bekirov may be a ‘fake’ as its excuse for flouting it and continuing to place the 58-year-old Crimean Tatar’s life in danger

It is eight days since the European Court of Human Rights directly ordered that Crimean Tatar political prisoner Edem Bekirov be hospitalized due to the critical state of his health.  Such orders are binding, yet the Russian-controlled FSB in occupied Crimea has not moved Bekirov and has now suggested that the ECHR decision is a ‘fake’. 

Bekirov’s lawyer, Alexei Ladin reported on 18 June that he had received a copy of the document in response to his formal request that the FSB do only what they are required by the European Court to do, and urgently hospitalize a man whose life is in danger. 

FSB ‘investigator’ Ivan Romanets claims that they are unable “to confirm or refute the accuracy of the information contained in the copy of the letter from the European Court of Human Rights, provided by the defence”.  Since the said document was not notarized in the proper manner, he asserts, they are in doubt as to its authenticity. 

Ladin justifiably questions how, if these ‘investigators’ are unable to establish the authenticity of an ECHR document eight days after it was issued, they are supposed to be able to investigate and solve crimes.

In the same document, Romanets repeats a lie that the investigators have been repeating since Bekirov was seized in December last year, namely that their medical examination did not find any illnesses preventing the 58-year-old from being held in the appalling conditions of the Simferopol SIZO (remand prison).

Bekirov is an amputee who needs a crutch or wheelchair for any mobility.  He suffered a major heart attack in 2018, and now has four cardiac shunts to regulate blood pressure.  He is also a diabetic, and has been given unregulated amounts of insulin with no attempt being made to monitor his blood sugar level. At the end of April this year, an independent doctor warned that under such circumstances, Bekirov could fall into a diabetic coma, either from a too high or a too low blood sugar level. Proper treatment of his condition is impossible without information about his blood sugar level, and there is a real risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which happens when the body starts running out of insulin.  This is an extremely dangerous condition with his life in immediate danger, since the cardio-vascular system begins to shut down – and this in the case of a person who has received had heart surgery.

Bekirov thus has long-identified medical issues, each of which should preclude his being held in detention, and that is without even considering the fact that there are no objective grounds for the charges he is facing at all.

Romanets’ attempt to repeat the old lies yet again is all the more shocking since, as Ladin puts it, “Russia is obliged to comply with the ECHR order, not discuss it”. 

This is not the first time that Russia has flouted ECHR directives, or has provided the Court with falsified medical records. This does not make it any the less disturbing, both because Bekirov’s life is being jeopardized, and because there are real fears that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] could allow Russia to return to PACE with sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea effectively waived.  One of the main arguments given is that Russia is threatening to leave the European Court of Human Rights.  This would, indeed, be disastrous for many victims of injustice, however Russia is increasingly choosing when to comply with ECHR orders and when to pretend that they don’t know whether they are authentic.

Bekirov was seized by the FSB on 12 December, 2018, when he tried to cross into Crimea to visit his elderly mother and other relatives. He was held incommunicado until well into the evening, and without food or water until the ‘court hearing’ the following day that ordered his detention for two months.

He was not on any ‘wanted list’ and the FSB’s behaviour was already thoroughly illegal.  They then came up with grotesque accusations. 

The 58-year-old, who walks with difficulty and swiftly gets out of breath, has been charged with circulating and transporting more than 10 kilograms of DNT and 190 bullets ((under Article 222 § 2 of Russia’s criminal code).  According to the FSB’s ‘secret witness’ whom they call ‘Memetov’, Bekirov passed the explosives and bullets – all 14 kilogram worth - to him in May 2018. Memetov purportedly placed them in a secret hiding place around Krasnoperekopsk and then in August revealed this place to the Russian FSB and gave testimony against Bekirov.

The ‘court’ has been told and given evidence to confirm that Bekirov could not even lift a 1.5 litre bottle without difficulty and could not have survived any effort to draft such a huge weight. 

The FSB and the ‘courts’ are also refusing to consider Bekirov’s alibi which debunks the testimony of the FSB’s anonymous ‘secret witness’  

A formal complaint over this was lodged by lawyer Alexei Ladin back in December 2018.   There is plenty of real and identifiable witness testimony to confirm exactly where Bekirov was at the time that an ‘anonymous witness’ claims he was transporting 14 kilograms of explosives which he couldn’t have lifted. 

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