Young Crimean Tatar likely tortured into ‘confessing’ to anti-war protest
Two days after an alleged Molotov cocktail attack on the Pushkino Village Council building in occupied Crimea, a video has been posted showing 25-year-old Aziz Faizulaev ‘confessing’ to the act. The young man is obviously in a very stressed state, and appears to be reading a prepared text. This, and the very clear links with a previous incident involving Yevpatoria artist Bohdan Ziza, give grounds for concern, with these only exacerbated by the fact that Faizulaev’s lawyer has not been allowed to see him.
A Telegram channel reported on 5 June that somebody had thrown a Molotov cocktail into the building of the Pushkino Village Council. This had resulted in a small fire in the room where the council deputies meet, but had not destroyed any documents, nor caused any major damage. The author of the report notes the recent spate of Molotov cocktail attacks on Russian military recruitment offices, and clearly finds it less than clear why anybody would want to attack a village administration building.
It seems most unlikely that there are CCTV cameras around the building in question, and the attack was carried out at night, probably without witnesses. Yet in the morning on 7 June, a search was carried out of the home in Pushkino that Faizulaev lives in with his parents, and he was taken away. By that evening the video of him ‘confessing’, apparently made by the Russian propaganda channel Crimea24, had appeared.
Faizulaev’s parents have not commented on the search, but are convinced that their son had nothing to do with the Molotov cocktail attack. Faizulaev’s cousin Elmaz Akimova has told Graty that he has received many so-called ‘warnings’ from the occupation authorities, with the most recent of these on the eve of the anniversary of the 1944 Deportation of the Crimean Tatar people which Crimean Tatars have been prohibited from commemorated together since Russia’s invasion. Each year, the occupation ‘prosecutor’ and / or ‘police’ carry out such ‘warnings of the inadmissibility of extremist activities’. This is how the Russian occupiers view honouring the victims of a crime recognized in Ukraine as genocide, marking the days of the Crimean Tatar and of the Ukrainian flag.
While none of this proves that Faizulaev did not carry out the attack, such ‘attention’ from the occupation regime would explain why the Russian-controlled enforcement officers turned up so swiftly. It would also make it logical for him to anticipate immediately coming under suspicion.
Elmaz is emphatic that her cousin does not use the kind of language heard on the videoed ‘confession’ obtained while Faizulaev was held in custody and prevented from seeing a lawyer. With his body language also suggesting that he was speaking under duress, Faizulaev says that he wants to confess that, on 5 June, “disagreeing with the special military operation carried out by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, I carried out an arson attack on the administration building of the Pushkino rural settlement with two Molotov cocktails, having first broken the window. I want to express my sincere apologies to Crimeans and residents of Pushkino. I sincerely repent of the deed. I promise that such actions will not be repeated. I experience a feeling of shame for carrying out the action. I am willing to undergo punishment in accordance with the law”.
This does sound very much like a text that Faizulaev did not write himself. It is also ominously reminiscent of the ‘confession’ given by Bohdan Ziza (Azizov), while he too was held incommunicado. The 27-year-old artist did certainly carry out a protest, daubing the Yevpatoria administration building with the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag. It is less clear that he threw a Molotov cocktail (details here).