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Kremlin's Ukrainian political prisoner issues impassioned plea to US State Secretary Blinken

06.05.2021
Halya Coynash

From left Oleksiy Bessarabov, Volodymyr Dudka Photo Ilya Dudka.jpeg

A key issue in any meetings between the Presidents of the USA and Russia must be the unconditional release of all Ukrainian political prisoners held in occupied Crimea and Russia.  This, Oleksiy Bessarabov, Ukrainian academic, political analyst and Russia’s political prisoner, stresses, is “not a political issue, but one of restoring a minimum level of trust, honour and morality of nations’ leaders in the twenty first century.”

Bessarabov is one of three Ukrainians from Sevastopol arrested on ‘sabotage’ charges in November 2016.  He and Volodymyr Dudka are both serving 14-year sentences despite the absurdity of the charges and the flagrant doctoring of ‘evidence’ against them.  Bessarabov points out, however, in his appeal to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, that there are political prisoners who have been imprisoned since 2014. 

Bessarabov writes that he is one of over 100 Ukrainian citizens arrested by Russia’s FSB in occupied Crimea and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment on fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’; ‘extremism’; ‘spying’ or ‘sabotage’.

“Although my name, like that of dozens of other political prisoners, is on the lists of human rights organizations like Freedom House and Memorial, we are virtually forgotten. Only our relatives, friends and colleagues remember us.  We are forgotten because the issue of Crimea is never discussed either during the Normandy Four negotiations, or those in Minsk. Those [negotiation] formats concern only occupied Donbas, but not Crimea.  Oleg Sentsov has been freed, however the Sentsov List remains and is, indeed, constantly having the names of new prisoners added to it.  Our names have been mentioned over recent years only in resolutions from the European Parliament and by the US Permanent Mission to the OSCE for which I would like to express particular gratitude to the United States. “

Bessarabov goes on to say that he and other political prisoners are aware of preparations underway for meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as for a summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  They ask that the unconditional release of all Ukrainians illegally held in Russian and Crimean captivity be made a key issue on the agenda.  “This is not a political issue, but one of restoring a minimum level of trust, honour and morality of nations’ leaders in the twenty first century.”

There are compelling examples of how this can work, Bessarabov says, citing the US policy in resolving the conflict in Afghanistan. “There they became with a joint release of prisoners on an ‘all for all’ basis, and only after that, did they seek a political settlement.  The parties – the Afghan authorities and the Talibans – managed in a matter of months to exchange ‘all for all’ around six thousand people.  In the case of the Russian – Ukrainian conflict, only partial releases have been carried out, with the last of these being in 2019 and concerning only Donbas, not Crimea.”*

Bessarabov writes that he has already been imprisoned for four and a half years, and others have been prisoners already for seven years.

“We can only hope that, given the political will and under the influence of the United States, we can regain our freedom.”

Details about Oleksiy Bessarabov; Volodymyr Dudka and Dmytro Shtyblikov here

14 year sentences for Russia to present Ukraine as the enemy in occupied Crimea

 

*  There was in fact one exchange in April 2020, however it also applied only to Donbas and aroused concerns for a number of other reasons (details here).

 

Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian political prisoners held in occupied Crimea or Russia (press the name for more information)

The list includes several Crimean men and one woman seized in the months after Russia’s last release of Ukrainian political prisoners, a victim of punitive psychiatry and a Radio Svoboda journalist

Oleh Prykhodko

Yunus Masharipov  Punitive psychiatry without end for human rights activism in Russian-occupied Crimea

Vladislav Yesypenko   Imprisoned Ukrainian journalist savagely tortured by Russian FSB in occupied Crimea

‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ conveyor belt prosecutions 

Fake ‘terrorism’ charges, used increasingly against civic activists and journalists and as part of Russia’s attempts to demonize Crimean Tatars.  Not one of the men was or is accused of a recognizable crime, yet several men have been sentenced to 18 or 19 years.

Sevastopol Crimean Tatars

Ruslan Zeytullaev 

(Ferat SaifullaevRustem Vaitov and Nuri Primov were released in early 2020 after serving wrongful sentences to the end )

10 May 2018           Enver Seytosmanov

Yalta Six   - the first gratuitously violent ‘operation’ on 11 February 2016, and then arrests of two very young men on 18 April 2016.            

Emir-Usein Kuku, the first human rights activist, against whom Russia used ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ charges, after other persecution failed to silence him.  See:

“Crimea is our land. We did not give it to Russia, nor did we sell it”

Muslim Aliev  

See: Stalin took Crimean Tatar Dilyara Alieva’s homeland and parents; Putin’s Russia has taken her son

Inver Bekirov

Vadim Siruk

Arsen Dzhepparov

Refat Alimov

Bakhchysarai Four  - four men arrested on 12 May 2016

Enver Mamutov

Rustem Abiltarov

Zevri Abseitov

Remzi Memetov

Simferopol Five   - five men, including two brothers, both of them lawyers and Ukrainian sports champions

Teymur Abdullayev

Uzeir Abdullayev

See:  “Mama, have they come to kill us?” Russia’s new-old terror and deportation of Crimean Tatars

Emil Dzhemadenov

Aider Saledinov

Rustem Ismailov

Bakhchysarai ‘Crimean Solidarity’ arrests    

Suleyman (Marlen) Asanov    19-year sentence because he refused to leave Crimea

Ernes Ametov  

Memet Belyalov: 18-year sentence for discussing religion in Russian-occupied Crimea  Timur Ibragimov   

Seiran Saliyev   sentenced to 16 years on same political changes as those against his great-grandfather in Soviet times 

Server Zekiryaev  

Server Mustafayev

Edem Smailov

14 February 2019    ‘Krasnogvardeysk group’

Rustem Emiruseinov

Arsen Abkhairov

Eskender Abdulganiev 

27 March 2019  ‘Operation’ against Crimean Tatar civic activists and journalists in which 23 men were seized and almost immediately taken to Russia.  Two other men – Rayim Aivazov and Eskender Suleymanov were arrested later.

Izet Abdulayev, actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Tofik Abdulgaziev, Crimean Solidarity activist

Vladlen Abdulkadyrov. activist involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners

Medzhit Abdurakhmanov Crimean Solidarity activist

Bilyal Adilov religious figure who also actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Rayim Aivazov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Enver Ametov  actively attended politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Osman Arifmemetov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist and activist

See: Bitter echoes of Stalin’s Deportation in Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tatars

Farkhod Bazarov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Akim Bekirov civic activist involved in organizing parcels of food, etc. for political prisoners

Remzi Bekirov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Dzhemil Gafarov actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings.  Gafarov has a serious kidney disorder and even according to Russian law should not be in detention. 

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

Riza Izetov  human rights activist and Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Alim Karimov Crimean Solidarity activist

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

Yashar Muyedinov  Crimean Solidarity activist

Erfan Osmanov actively attended all politically motivated ‘court’ hearings

Seitveli Seitabdiev  Crimean Solidarity activist

Rustem Seitkhalilov Crimean Solidarity activist

Rustem Sheikhaliev  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist

Eskender Suleimanov,  Crimean Solidarity activist.

Ruslan Suleymanov  Crimean Solidarity civic journalist and activist

Shaban Umerov Crimean Solidarity activist

Asan Yanikov  civic activist involved in organizing food parcels for political prisoners.

10 June 2019  FSB “We’ll get around to shooting you all”   

‘Belogorsk group’  - including a father and son

Aider Dzhapparov

Enver Omerov

Riza Omerov

‘Alushta Group’

Eldar Kantimirov

Lenur Khalilov

Ruslan Mensutov

Ruslan Nahaev

11 March 2020   Another ‘family prosecution’ – civic activists and their relatives

Seitumer Seitumerov

Osman Seitumerov  (the sons of renowned Crimean Tatar historian Shurki Seytumerov)

Rustem Seitmemetov  (the Seytumerovs’ uncle)

Amet Suleimanov – a Crimean Solidarity activist and journalist (streaming information about arrests and political trials onto the Internet).  He had recently restricted such civic activism, but only because of very serious heart problems. 

7 July 2020  New FSB low, with arrest of a blind man with limited mobility and many others

Vadim Bektemirov

Ismet Ibragimov

Seiran Khairedinov

Zekirya Muratov

Alexander Sizikov

Alim Sufianov

Emil Ziyadinov 

17 February 2021  New offensive against civic activists with the armed searches evidently only for so-called ‘prohibited literature’ 

Azamat Eyupov  

Oleh Fedorov

Ernest Ibragimov 

Lenur Seydametov 

Yashar Shikhametov 

Timur Yalkabov

Other religious persecution

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Viktor Stashevsky

Serhiy Filatov

Artem Gerasimov

Yevhen Zhukov

Volodymyr Maladyka

Volodymyr Sakada

Ihor Schmidt

‘Ukrainian Saboteur’ cases without any acts of sabotage or proof 

Andriy Zakhtei

Oleksiy Bessarabov

Volodymyr Dudka

Dmytro Shtyblikov

Hennady Lymeshko  

Kostyantin Davydenko 

Denis Kashuk

Mystery ‘spying’

Valentin Vyhivsky  Imprisoned since September 2014

Viktor Shur

Leonid Parkhomenko  

Vladimir Morgunov

Halyna Dovhopola  

Russian invaders sentence elderly Ukrainian woman to 12 years on ‘treason’ charges

Oleksandr Marchenko  Russia sentences Ukrainian political prisoner to 10 years after abducting him from Donbas

Konstantin Shyrinha

Vasyl Vasylenko  

Ivan Yatskin

Punishment for Euromaidan or for opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea

Mykola Shyptur  imprisoned since March 2014

Oleksiy Chyrniy 

Andriy Kolomiyets   

Accused of membership in Ukraine of perfectly legal organizations which Russia demonizes, including the Noman Çelebicihan (or Asker) Battalion which, despite its name, is not an armed formation

Maxim Filatov

Fevzi Sahandzhy

Edem Kadyrov

Dilyaver Gafarov

Aidyn Mamutov

Nariman Mezhmedinov

Medzhit Ablyamitov

Other Ukrainian political prisoners

Rustem Abilev

Serhiy Buhaichuk

Yevhen Karakashev

Ihor KIyashko

Maxim Sokurenko 

 

 

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