22 Crimean Tatars, including the fathers of imprisoned Crimean Solidarity activists, jailed for trying to attend an ‘open court hearing’
By late in the evening of 26 August, all of the 22 Crimean Tatars detained the previous day while waiting for the beginning of a political ‘court hearing’ to brief terms of imprisonment. They included the fathers of two of the six political prisoners, all activists of the Crimean Solidarity human rights movement, arrested on 24 August and facing huge prison sentences without any crime.
Although all of the men had either been walking around, or quietly sitting on benches in the park or in a neighbouring café, they were seized, in two cases violently, by officers of Russia’s so-called ‘centre for countering extremism’ or other enforcement officers and taken away in a police van. The men, including four in their sixties and seventies, were held in custody overnight, with the ‘hearings’ at the occupation ‘Kievsky district court’ in Simferopol continuing until after 22.00. 64-year-old Remzi Zudiyev, father of Crimean Solidarity Co-founder and Graty correspondent Lutfiye Zudiyeva, was put in a cell and deprived of his medication, despite a serious heart condition following a major heart attack.
Such mass detentions are becoming as much a part of Russia’s repression in occupied Crimea as the armed searches and arrests of Crimean Tatar civic journalists and activists on fabricated ‘terrorism’ or ‘sabotage’ charges. Relatives; friends and Crimean Solidarity human rights activists merely trying to attend ‘court’ hearings, or stand outside, without causing any disturbance, are themselves subjected to administrative prosecution. All of this is, undoubtedly, deliberate intimidation, with the Russian FSB also very clearly demonstrating that the administrative charges are ‘a warning’. When civic journalists and activists fail to heed the warning and continue reporting on Russia’s repression and demonstrating solidarity with the political prisoners and their families, they become the next victims. Almost all of the six Crimean Solidarity activists seized on 24 August had earlier been jailed for up to 15 days or fined on administrative charges.
All six men arrested on 24 August: Ruslan Asanov (b. 1975); Remzi Nimetulayev (b. 1985); Seidamet Mustafayev (b. 1995); Abdulmedzhit Seitumerov (b. 1999); Ametkhan Umerov (b. 1986) and Eldar Yakubov (b. 1980) have now been remanded in custody. Although this is officially for two months, the detention will be extended over and over again, first in occupied Crimea, and then in Rostov where they will be taken for the so-called ‘trial’ at the Southern District Military Court. Russia launched these conveyor belt prosecutions back in 2015, and has, since 2017 been openly targeting members of the Crimean Tatar human rights movement. Such ‘operations’, involving armed searches and arrests virtually always mean that the men taken prisoner face sentences of between 12 and 20 years although they are not accused of any real crimes. For the men’s families, the detention hearings should, at least, be one of the few occasions they may have to see their loved ones before they are imprisoned thousands of kilometres away, in the Russian Federation. Instead, the Russian occupation regime has turned such occasions into a further instrument of terror and intimidation, with mass detentions almost standard.
All of those detained on 25 August had protocols drawn up on the administrative charge under Article 20.2.2 of Russia’s Code of administrative charges (‘organization of a mass simultaneous presence and / or movement of citizens in public places, causing a disturbance to public order’). The only disturbance was from the ‘centre for countering extremism’ officers, police and masked men who seized the Crimean Tatars. After , they charged both under Article 19.3 of the same administrative code (with supposedly disobeying the legitimate order of an enforcement officer). Enver Seitmemetov, a historian and, since 24 August, uncle of three political prisoners, had come to the ‘court’ to support the youngest of the three – Abdulmedzhit Seitumerov, who is just 23 and became a father less than two months ago. and
The most shocking part of this is that the Russians have detained two fathers, one of whom, Shukri Seitumerov has just effectively lost his last son, Abdulmedzhit, three years after the Russian FSB seized his two elder sons. Seitumer Seitumerov and Osman Seitumerov are both recognized political prisoners, serving horrific sentences (17 and 14 years, respectively).
Those detained with the sentences passed by the head of the occupation ‘Kievsky district court’, Andrei Nikolaevich Dolgopolov. Only the men’s lawyer, Edem Semedlyaev was allowed to be present.
These were sentences to order, with the only part which could have been worse being that the four eldest men, including the fathers of two of the political prisoners, were ‘only’ sentenced to 24 hours imprisonment, the same amount of time, or even slightly longer, than they had already spent in custody.
Shukri Seitumerov (69 years old) - father of political prisoners Seitumer, Osman and Abdulmedzhit Seitumerov
Enver Seitmemetov (72), uncle of the three Seitumerov political prisoners
Enver Mustafayev (69) whose son, Seidamet Mustafayev was arrested on 24 August
Remzi Zudiyev (64)
4 or 5 days
Servin Abdullayev (37) 5 days
Ruslan Abdurashitov (35) 5 days
Eldar Aliev (36) 7 days
Emil Aliev (23) 5 days
Zinur Appazov 4 days
Edem Asanov (36) 5 days
Fevzi Bekbayev (29) 5 days
Emin Bilyalov (37) 5 days
Yunus Fevziev (37) 5 days
Lenur Ibragimov (47) 5 days
Abdul Gafarov (36) 4 days
Eleonor Izmailov (40) 5 days
Ruslan Kantugansky (46) 4 days
Memet Liumanov (35) 5 days
Rustem Osmanov (34) 5 days
Ruslan Salavatov (46) 5 days
Bekir Temirgaziev (22) 5 days
Enver Topchi (32) 5 days