Crimean Solidarity Coordinator re-imprisoned for video posted two years before Russia annexed Crimea
A Russian-controlled ‘court’ in occupied Crimea has sentenced Crimean Solidarity Coordinator Mustafa Seidaliev to a further ten days’ imprisonment over a video dated 2012 and posted on a VKontakte page which he last looked at back in 2016. Two ‘rulings’ were passed a day after two absurd administrative protocols were drawn up to avoid releasing Seidaliev from a 14-day term of imprisonment (scroll down for details of the new imprisonment in chronological order).
14 days’ imprisonment after mass detentions on 23 November
Crimean Solidarity Coordinator Mustafa Seidaliev should have been released on 7 December, after being jailed for 14 days. He was the last of 22 Crimean Tatars to end jail sentences imposed for having come to greet lawyer Edem Semedlyaev on 23 November, after the latter finished a 12-day jail sentence in Russian-occupied Crimea for doing his job. Instead, the young Crimean Tatar father of three remained imprisoned with lawyers prevented from being present while two new protocols of administrative prosecution were drawn up. This was with the involvement of the same Ukrainian traitor, Ruslan Renatovich Shambazov who detained Semedlyaev on 25 October, and who was then implicated in the mass detentions of Crimean Tatars who came to greet Semedlyaev on his release. Shambazov would not, however, have risked such overt lawlessness had there not been a go-ahead from above for this new attack on Crimean Solidarity and on Crimean Tatars in general.
22 Crimean Tatars had been jailed for terms from 10 to 14 days, with 10 women also detained on 23 November, and either illegally held until ‘court hearings’ the following afternoon, or released extremely late in the night. Seidaliev had been sentenced to the longest, 14-day, term, together with Crimean Solidarity journalist Villen Temeryaev.
Newly jailed for a 2012 video
Seidaliev was formally detained again on 7 December in the ‘police’ station in Yevpatoria after not being released from the 14 days’ imprisonment. The two protocols should, even according to Russian legislation, be done in the presence of Seidaliev’s lawyer, however both Edem Semedlyaev and fellow lawyer Emil Kurbedinov were refused admission. There was a disgraceful farce with the ‘officers’ first claiming that the Crimean Solidarity Coordinator had already left the building. When the lawyers refuted this, saying that he had just phoned them to say that he was being held inside and that new charges were being laid, the ‘officer’ claimed that they would ‘find out’ what was going on. Kurbedinov stated that they will be demanding that the recording of the telephone conversation be added to the case in ‘court, with this proving both that the lawyers were lied to about their client’s whereabouts and were refused entry. They will also be lodging complaints, although he was blunt in admitting to having no illusions as to their outcome. He proved right. During the ‘hearing’ on 8 December, ‘Centre for countering extremism’ officer Nikolai Lapik claimed that he had seen no need to call a lawyer so as not to "drag things out".
The two new protocols were under Article 20.3 of Russia’s ‘Code of administrative offences’ (‘propaganda or public display of symbols of extremist organizations’) and Article 20.29 (‘production and circulation of extremist material’).
One ‘court hearing’ (over Article 20.29) took place on 8 December before ‘judge’ Georgy Tsertsvadze from the occupation Kirovsky District Court. It was claimed that the posting of the video was discovered on 1 December 2021, although Seidaliev had himself last been on that VKontakte page (according to the police themselves!) in 2016, and the post was dated 2012. The second ‘hearing’ was before ‘judge’ Igor Degtaryov (over Article 20.3, although otherwise identical to the first).
There were several irregularities, however the most shocking part of all of this is that the video had been posted long before Russia’s invasion and unquestionably under Ukrainian jurisdiction. There is nothing at all ‘illegal’ about the video in question by Ukrainian law.
Attack on Crimean Solidarity
It is probably no coincidence that a coordinator of the important Crimean Solidarity initiative faced further persecution. Seidaliev is one of two coordinators to have been jailed, with Dilyaver Memetov seized on 26 November and then jailed for 12 days, presumably because they had ‘inadvertently’ omitted to detain him together with the other 32 Crimean Tatars on 23 November. Crimean Solidarity was created in 2016, in response to the mounting number of Crimean Tatar and other Ukrainian political prisoners under Russian occupation. It plays a vital role, not only in helping political prisoners and their families, but in ensuring that information is obtained about armed arrests, political trials, etc. It has come under increasing attack, and a very large number of the Crimean Muslims imprisoned on fabricated charges are Crimean Solidarity civic journalists and / or activists.
Mass detentions and imprisonment of lawyer Edem Semedlyaev
There have been four mass detentions, very clearly targeting Crimean Tatars, since 4 September, following the arrests (which looked like abductions) of Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Nariman Dzhelyal and four other Crimean Tatars.
The arrests on 25 October were of people who had tried to gather outside an occupation ‘court’ involved in the appeal against huge sentences passed on three political prisoners. After learning of the detentions which included several , including of several civic journalists, on 25 October, Semedlyaev arrived at the station and set about providing the detained men with legal assistance. Shambazov refused to wait for Semedlyaev to finish helping one detained journalist, before drawing up a protocol against another detainee. Semedlyaev immediately pointed out that this was illegal and, after being told he couldn’t video the clear infringement of the detainee’s rights, proceeded to carry out an audio recording, in full accordance with legislation. Shambazov proceeded to detain Semedlyaev, claiming that the lawyer was ‘disobeying the legitimate order of an enforcement officer’ (Article 19.3 of Russia’s Code of administrative offences). He then demanded that Semedlyaev strip naked, which the lawyer obviously refused to do (not only because it is against his Muslim faith, but because he was there in his capacity as a lawyer and had been detained while he was providing legal assistance).
Semedlyaev ended up charged twice under Article 19.3. It is an indication of the grave degradation of the justice system under Russian occupation that he was first detained for almost 24 hours, and then later jailed (by ‘judge’ Aleksandr Voronoy from the occupation Central District Court) to 12 days for doing his job properly, and fined (by ‘judge’ Sergei Demenok) for refusing to strip naked.
The mass detentions on 23 November descended to a new low, with those detained, many of them carrying balloons, flowers, even cake to welcome Semedlyaev, including several elderly Crimean Tatar men and women. In all, 32 Crimean Tatars were detained, with two of the three women held in detention until the following day having small children, with this in total breach even of Russian legislation. Those eventually jailed for up to 14 days included five journalists whose press ID were simply ignored.