MENU

Similar articles

Outbreak of Covid-19 in Russian prison holding Ukrainian prisoners of conscienceRussia uses Trial by Fake Secret Witnesses to imprison Crimean TatarsCrimean Tatar political prisoners face surreal terrorism charges that the prosecutor can’t explainLife sentence for defending political prisoners? Russia begins new trial of three Crimean TatarsRussia brings terror to more Crimean Tatar familiesTurncoats and torture deployed against Ukrainian Muslims in Russian-occupied CrimeaYouTube collaborates with Russia to censor video about imprisoned Crimean Tatar human rights activist KukuOminous new twist in Russia’s conveyor belt trial of six Ukrainian political prisonersRussia hides imprisoned Ukrainian human rights activist on hunger strikeJailed Crimean Tatar Human Rights Activist on Hunger Strike in Russian World Cup cityJailed Crimean Tatar human rights activist says that FSB prove that Russia has changed little since Stalin eraFSB’s ‘secret witness’ exposed during trial of 6 Crimean political prisonersRussia condemned for launching ‘machine of wholesale persecution’ in occupied CrimeaProfoundly cynical trial begins of Crimean Tatar human rights activist and five other Crimean MuslimsRussian FSB “make their careers” by jailing Crimean Muslims on fake ’terrorism’ & ’extremism’ chargesNew weapon of religious persecution and arrests in Russian-occupied CrimeaCrimean Tatar Political Prisoner Moved to Notorious Prison in RussiaRussia could kill Crimean Tatar political prisoner imprisoned for civic activismBrutal torture of gravely ill Crimean Tatar political prisonerHuge sentences against Crimean Tatar political prisoners mean fat bonuses for Russia’s FSB

Kremlin hostages’ lives in danger while Russia exploits Covid-19 to further restrict their rights

26.10.2020
Halya Coynash

At least 10 cells in the appallingly overcrowded SIZO [remand prison] in occupied Simferopol are ‘under quarantine’ with this almost certainly meaning that prisoners have been infected with Covid-19.  Although the Crimean Human Rights Group is aware of  cases of pneumonia, Russia is fiddling the records and placing Crimean prisoners’ lives in danger by not ensuring proper diagnoses and not testing for Covid-19.  This is true both of political prisoners held in occupied Crimea, and those in the Russian Federation, with the situation especially critical for a number of prisoners in their fifties and sixties with serious medical issues.

The overcrowding, filth and unsanitary conditions in the Simferopol SIZO have been of major concern for many years.  of concern for many years.  In a stuffy cell of 30 m², in which 14 men are forced to take turns to sleep on 10 bunks, and probably use a scarcely cordoned-off ‘toilet’, the danger from coronavirus and other infectious diseases is immense.

While placing men’s lives in jeopardy, Russia is also using the pandemic to further restrict the rights of political prisoners. In Rostov-on-Don, where a number of political prisoners are now held during their ‘trials’, their lawyers are only able to speak with them in the short-visit rooms through glass via a telephone.  Most worryingly, this is under the scrutiny of Russian SIZO guards, which is a serious violation of their right to defence.

At least two Crimean Tatar prisoners of conscience – Muslim Aliev and Server Mustafayev – have been ill with symptoms that are certainly identical to those associated with Covid-19.  Mustafayev received absolutely no medical attention, while Aliev disappeared at a time when human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and four other political prisoners from the Yalta region were being sent on the gruelling journey to Russian prisons. Aliev’s family were put through weeks of hell before he finally arrived at the prison in Bashkortostan (please write to Aliev; Kuku and the other men).

In June, there was an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Russian SIZO in Rostov where at least three Ukrainian political prisoners - Crimean Tatars Eskender Abdulganiev and Arsen Abkhairov, and Ukrainian Jehovah’s Witness Serhiy Filatov.

Nobody is suggesting that strict quarantine measures may be required to prevent a highly contagious disease from spreading further.  The best such measure, however, in the case of Ukrainian political prisoners who are not even accused of an internationally recognized crime would be to release them, at least under house arrest.  Instead, they remain imprisoned and deprived of medical care.  Oleh Prykhodko recently threatened to slash his wrists, the only means left to him to protest the ongoing refusal to merely pass on the medication the 62-year-old urgently needs and which his family Is providing.  56-year-old Volodymyr Dudka was about to undergo an important operation on 9 November 2016 when he was seized by the FSB in occupied Sevastopol.  He has never received proper medical attention, and his family have also had problems getting medication to him.  At least three other men currently held in Crimean or Russian SIZO: 59-year-old Enver Omerov; 60-year-old Servet Gaziev and Dzhemil Gafarov (58) have very serious medical conditions. 

Gafarov’s situation is particularly shocking since his fourth stage kidney disease, which is only a step away from kidney failure,  is, even according to Russian legislation too serious to permit the use of detention.  Gafarov’s wife explains that he is effectively experiencing a permanent state of blood poisoning, with the level of filtration of his kidneys between a quarter and a third of what they should be. The kidney disease also caused him to have a serious heart attack in 2017.  None of this has stopped Russian-controlled and Russian ‘courts’ from extending Gafarov’s detention since 27 March 2019 when he was arrested in Russia’s most flagrant ‘operation’ against Crimean Tatar civic activists and journalists

 

 Share this