Russia sentenced six Crimean residents to long terms of imprisonment on terrorist charges
KIEV – The Russian authorities demonstrated great cruelty by sentencing Crimean human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku and five Crimeans to lengthy prison terms on trumped-up charges.
This is stated in the statement of the international human rights organization Amnesty International on November 12 on the decision of the Southern District Military Court (Rostov) to imprison six Crimean residents for terms of 19 to 7 years. Amnesty International is a worldwide movement that unites more than seven million people in more than 150 countries who advocate for an end to gross violations of human rights. The verdict, according to human rights activists, was delivered “after a long unfair trial”.
“This decision completes what can only be described as a fake trial. Emir Usein Kuku and five other prisoners faced severe injustice. They were transported from their home in Crimea to the Russian mainland, accused of ‘terrorist’ crimes and tried in a military court, ”said Marie Struthers, Director of Amnesty International in Eastern Europe and Central Asia..
The statement, the text of which is at the disposal of the Russian service of the Voice of America, emphasizes that Emir-Usein Kuku is behind bars only for advocating for the rights of the Crimean Tatar society.
“He became a victim of repression by the occupation authorities. The Russian authorities must immediately reverse the unjust decision and release Emir-Usein, Muslim Aliyev, Vadim Siruk, Enver Bekirov, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzhepparov, who were convicted today [November 12], ”says Marie Struthers.
Amnesty International reports that on November 12, the Military Court of the Southern District of Russia sentenced Enver Bekirov and Muslim Aliyev to 18 and 19 years in a maximum security penal colony, respectively. Vadim Siruk and Emir-Usein Kuk were sentenced to 12 years in a maximum security colony each, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzheparov were sentenced to eight and seven years in prison.
They were found guilty of “organizing the activities of a terrorist organization” and “an attempt to forcibly seize power”, for participation in the “Yalta cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir”.
Human rights activist Emir-Usein Kuku, according to Amnesty International, was arrested in February 2016 and charged with being a member of the Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir, banned as a “terrorist movement” in Russia, but not in Ukraine..
Freedom House: Crimea is not free
Recall that the Freedom House annual report “Freedom in the World 2019” assessed the situation in Crimea as an occupied territory that belongs to Ukraine..
In the rating published on the night of February 5, 2019, Crimea is among the “not free” countries with eight points out of a hundred.
“Throughout the year, opposition representatives and activists who opposed the Russian occupation continued to suffer harassment, arrest and detention for their peaceful activities, while the Russian authorities regularly violated due process rights in court proceedings against regime opponents,” Freedom House report.
Freedom House recalls that in December, four Crimean Tatars received lengthy prison terms for alleged links with the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia..
The report of the international organization Freedom House, headquartered in Washington, DC, emphasizes that more than a hundred analysts and more than thirty consultants took part in the Freedom in the World 2019 project..
On the new “hybrid deportation” in Crimea
Tamila Tasheva, coordinator of the KrymSOS public organization, notes that more than sixty Crimean Tatars are now in prison in Russia and in the occupied territory in Crimea.
She calls the deadlines given by the Russian court to the participants of the so-called “Yalta group” “absolutely unreasonable and illegal.”.
“We consider these prisoners persecuted for political reasons because Russia uses anti-extremist and anti-terrorist legislation to persecute unwanted population in the occupied territory. Of course, activists, human rights defenders, Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians are such, first of all, disagreeable persons, they are persecuted for political reasons, ”says Tamila Tasheva to the correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America”.
She points to the practice of ethnic and religious persecution of representatives of the Crimean Tatar population on the peninsula and notes that these actions of Russia were called “hybrid deportation”.
“Such a huge time frame is an attempt to scare the Crimean Tatars and drive them out of the peninsula. Ukrainian human rights activists have introduced the term “hybrid deportation” – Crimean Tatars are no longer put into freight cars, as it was in 1944, but, in fact, create conditions under which Crimean Tatars cannot live in their native land, and are forced to leave ” , – says Tamila Tasheva.
According to her, the release of the Crimean Tatars is possible if agreements are reached between Ukraine and Russia, as was the case on September 7 during the return of Ukrainian sailors and political prisoners to the Kremlin..
Deadlines, sentences, as a wake-up call
Meet the Crimean Tatar civic defender fighting for the freedom of her people
Yulia Tishchenko, an expert at the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Research, believes that there are no positive dynamics in the processes of persecution of Crimean Tatars in the occupied territory: Russia is giving them almost the maximum sentences. These actions of the Russian courts can be unambiguously interpreted as an attempt to intimidate the ethnic population of Crimea, the expert notes..
“This is also the reaction of the Russian side, including to the preliminary decisions in the case of discrimination on the peninsula in the International Court of Justice of the United Nations. The deadlines are very terrible – nothing is holding Russia back, ”says Yulia Tishchenko to the correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America”.
According to her, the sentence to Emir-Usein Kuk, a human rights activist and active member of the Crimean Tatar community, is another alarming signal of pressure on human rights in Crimea..
“This persecution can develop further. There are no new recipes for counteraction. Ukraine can record cases through diplomatic channels, using international platforms, inform the West about the observance of human rights in Crimea, ”Yulia Tishchenko notes..
At the same time, she believes that the mechanisms of pressure on Russia on the return of convicted Crimean Tatars are not so significant..
“We do not know if there are any negotiations in relation to the Crimean Tatars, if there are any agreements for a possible exchange, whether the sanctions regime and diplomatic efforts will work on this issue,” Yulia Tishchenko emphasizes..