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.

Mother of Crimean Tatar political prisoner hospitalized after brutal police attempt to detain her

Halya Coynash

Zurye Emiruseinova was taken to hospital on 31 October with dangerously high blood pressure after Russian-controlled police harassed and then tried to detain her for a legal solitary picket in defence of her political prisoner son, Rustem Emiruseinov.  As if it were not enough that the Crimean Tatar civic activist is facing an 18-year sentence for his faith and support for other victims of persecution, the Russian-controlled enforcement officers went for his mother.

At around 11 a.m. on 31 October, Zurye Emiruseinova came out onto the side of a main road near the village of Oktyabrske with a placard reading ‘My son is not a terrorist’.  Her daughter-in-law was at a perfectly safe distance, from where she was streaming the picket onto Facebook.  The elderly lady had only been standing there for around three minutes, when the officers appeared.  One said he was the deputy head of police on ‘protecting public order’ and demanded to see Zurye Emiruseinova’s documents.

According to lawyer, Lilya Hemedzhi, officers kept shouting and pressurizing the elderly lady, demanding that she come with them to the police station and claiming that she had been holding a ‘rally’, although it was clear that she was standing alone.   Aliye Emiruseinova asked them several times to lower their voices and speak more calmly, explaining that her mother-in-law suffers from hypertensive heart disease and is already in a state of stress because of the court sentences due on 3 November. The officers paid no attention, continuing their aggressive behaviour, which Hemedzhi has said she will be challenging in court.

As was to be expected, Zurye Emiruseinova became so unwell that her daughter-in-law called an ambulance, and the elderly woman was taken, suffering a hypertensive crisis, to hospital, where the doctors decided she should remain for several days. The police were threatening to take her to the police station and fill out protocols of supposed ‘administrative offences’ and even followed the ambulance to the hospital, leaving only after being told the diagnosis and doctors’ decision. It is not at all guaranteed that the police will not go through with prosecution under Articles 20.2 (infringing the established procedure for holding a meeting, etc) and 20.6.1 (failure to obey the rules of behaviour in emergency conditions or the risk of such) of the Russian code of administrative offences.  Russia is increasingly using the pandemic as a pretext for preventing even solitary pickets in occupied Crimea, without any justification, as can be seen in this case.  Zurye Emiruseinova was wearing a mask and was at a considerable distance from others, until swamped upon for no reason by officers.

The mothers of the two other political prisoners – Arsen Abkhairov and Eskender Abdulganiev – also held solitary pickets on Saturday.  They were able to return home, however Crimean Solidarity reports that it is not clear whether administrative proceedings will be brought against them.

Worth noting that the Russian occupiers used administrative prosecutions against  around 100 Crimean Tatars who came out totally legally in solitary pickets back in October 2017, long before the appearance of coronavirus.  One of the men who later took part in protests over the monstrous ‘terrorism’ charges being used to persecute Crimean Muslims was Rustem Emeruseinov. 

 From left Rustem Emiruseinov, Eskender Abdulganiev and Arsen Abkhairov 09.10.2020  Photo Crimean Solidarity

40-year-old Emeruseinov was arrested on 14 February 2019, together with 32-year-old Arsen Abkhairov, and Eskender Abdulganiev who was just 21.  During the FSB ‘operation’, armed and masked men burst into homes where children were sleeping, and carried out ‘searches’ during which they planted at least one religious book.

The men’s ‘trial’ at the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don (Russia) began in January 2020, with all of the men and their lawyers stating that they had no idea what they were even charged with.  None is accused of having committed, or even planned, any internationally recognized crime, and the main ‘evidence’ against them appears to be an illicitly taped discussion about bringing up children in their faith. The men are charged solely with unproven involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.  This peaceful Muslim organization is legal in Ukraine and most countries and is not known to have committed any acts of terrorism anywhere.  The Russian Supreme Court judgement in 2003 declaring Hizb ut-Tahrir ‘terrorist’ was in secret until it was too late for it to be appealed.  Vitaly Ponomaryov, from the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre, believes that the judgement was politically motivated and passed to make it easier for Russia to extradite people to Uzbekistan where they faced religious persecution and torture.

Since 2015, Russia has been illegally using such ‘terrorism’ charges against Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian Muslims in occupied Crimea.  In each such ‘trial’, one or more of the defendants are designated the role of ‘organizer’, while the others are accused of taking part in the Hizb ut-Tahrir group allegedly ‘organized’ by the other defendants.  In this case, Emiruseinov is facing the worse charge under Article 205.5 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code (‘organizing’  a group which Russia has claimed is terrorist) with the prosecutor having demanded a horrific 18-year sentence.  Abdulganiev and Abkhairov face the slightly lesser charge of ‘involvement’ (Article 205.5 § 2) with the prosecutor seeking 16 and 15-year sentences, respectively.  All three men have long been recognized by the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre as political prisoners.

Emiruseinov is one of a very large number of Crimean Tatar civic activists or journalists who are imprisoned essentially because they could not look away as repression mounted under Russian occupation and took part in the Crimean Solidarity civic initiative.  He actively attended ‘court hearings’ in the cases of political prisoners and also took part in the online flash-mob entitled ‘Muslims are not terrorists’.  This followed the series of single-person pickets in October 2017, after 76-year-old Server Karametov was imprisoned for 10 days after standing in defence of political prisoners with a placard reading: ‘Putin, our children are not terrorists!’.  When asked by Krym.Realii whether her husband had been involved in Crimean Solidarity, Aliye Emiruseinova asked a counter-question: “Can you tell me how it is possible in Crimea to not be involved in Crimean Solidarity if you have a conscience?”

Please write to Rustem EmiruseinovArsen Abkhairov and Eskender Abdulganiev!

The letters tell them they are not forgotten, and show Moscow that their persecution is being followed. Letters need to be in Russian, and on ‘safe’ subjects.  If that is a problem, use the sample letter below (copying it by hand), perhaps adding a picture or photo. Do add a return address so that the men can answer.

Sample letter


Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.

[Hi.  I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ] 

The envelopes can be written in Russian or English as below.

Rustem Emiruseinov

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Эмирусеинову, Рустему Решатовичу, 1979 г.р.

 [In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Emiruseinov, Rustem Reshatovich, b. 1979 ]

Eskender Abdulganiev

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Абдулганиеву, Эскендеру Иззетовичу, 1998 г.р.

 [In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Abdulganiev, Eskender Izzetovich, b. 1997 ]

Arsen Abkhairov

344010, Россия, Ростов-на-Дону, ул. Максима Горького, 219 СИЗО-1.

Абхаирову, Арсену Ремзиевичу, 1987 г.р.

 [In English:  344010 Russian Federation, Rostov on the Don, 219 Maxim Gorky St, SIZO-1

Abkhairov, Arsen Remzievich, b. 1987 ]




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