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today 13.02.2016 08:39
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Freedom of conscience and religion, The right to liberty and security

Crimean Tatar Rights Activist & 3 others jailed on Russian-style ’terrorism’ charges

13.02.16 | Halya Coynash
A court in Russian-occupied Simferopol has remanded four Crimean Muslims, including Emir-Huseyn Kuku from the Crimean Contact Group on Human Rights The court hearings coincided with a second day of armed searches specifically of Crimean Tatar homes.
The right to liberty and security

New Attack on Crimean Tatar Muslims in Russian-occupied Crimea

12.02.16 | Halya Coynash

   Emir Huseyn Kuku

UPDATE   Crimean Tatar Rights Activist & 3 others jailed on Russian-style ‘terrorism’ charges

Four Crimean Tatars, including Emir Huseyn Kuku, a member of the Crimean Contact Group on Human Rights, remain in custody after a day in which the Russian FSB and OMON riot police carried out at least eleven armed searches of Crimean Tatar Muslim homes and detained 12 people.   Fears that Russia is fabricating a new ‘terrorism’ case have now been confirmed with Natalya Poklonskaya, prosecutor in Russian-occupied Crimea, finally announcing that the four men are accused of involvement in a ‘terrorist organization’.  This is how Russia alone describes the pan-Islamic organization Hizb ut-Takhrir.   

Poklonskaya claimed that the law enforcement bodies “do not focus on any nationality”, but this was not the impression given during Thursday to all Crimean Tatars, including the many children awoken by armed men in balaclavas bursting into their homes.  

Abdureshit Dzhepparov, Coordinator of the Crimean Contact Group reported that all searches had been carried out in a rough manner.  In one home in Yalta, armed men in balaclavas broke down the door and windows although nobody had tried to show any resistance.  The windows were smashed with the glass shattering over three children asleep in the room.  They and their mother are understandably distressed and traumatized. 

Zair Smedlyaev, Head of the Crimean Tatar Qurultay Election Commission, calls the actions total lawlessness.  “Now everybody who has a beard, goes to the mosque, is a follower of Islam, is a potential terrorist for them.”

It should be noted that Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev reported soon after Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea that FSB officers were quite openly turning up at mosques and carrying out surveillance, with religious behaviour deemed ‘suspicious’.

The Crimean Tatar Mejlis or representative assembly has condemned this “new wave of repression” and the Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov believes that this is an attempt to discredit Muslims under the pretext of fighting a “Muslim threat”.   

It is not the first time.  Back in January 2015, four Crimean Tatars were arrested and are now facing ‘terrorism charges’ for their alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Takhrir, an organization that is legal in Ukraine and most other countries, and only labelled ‘terrorist’ by Russia.  There have already been other arrests and trials in Russia of members of this organization.  Russia has never come up with any evidence to warrant terrorism charges, yet there have already been many convictions, with long sentences imposed.  The respected Memorial Human Rights Centre has pointed out that Russia’s Supreme Court in 2003 prohibited Hisb ut-Takhrir as ‘terrorist’ without demonstrating any evidence of terrorist activities.  All those convicted under such dubious charges are recognized as political prisoners. 

The four Crimean Tatars – Nuri Primov; Ferat Saifullayev; Rustem Vaitov and Ruslan Zeitullayev – have now been in custody for well over a year (see:  Muslims labelled ‘terrorists’ under Russian occupation). 

The four men who remain in custody after Thursday’s armed show of force are human rights activist Emir Huseyn Kuku; Enver Bekirov; Muslim Aliev and Vadim Siruk.  All but Siruk, who seems to be a convert to Islam, are Crimean Tatar.

As reported here, Kuku, a member of the Crimean Contact Group on Human Rights, was accused of ‘extremist’ publications in February last year over material posted on his Facebook page.  There were around 42 texts, with many of them posts, or reposts, on religious subjects,    They included references to various Internet sites, either Russian or Ukrainian, as well as to YouTube.

In the first instance they were interested in an address to Crimean Muslims, videos, including foreign ones with translations addressing Muslims of Crimea with words of support, sympathy and calls to be patient because we find ourselves in such a position. They even fixated on the words “You are glorious, you believe in Allah”  [the word in Russian is ñëàâíûå, and could simply express strong support / approval].  They’ve begun a linguistic analysis of this phrase. All of this is heading to [charges of inciting] interethnic enmity, Article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code”.

The FSB apparently also objected to simple reposts, without any added commentary, of news on political issues.

There was no mention then of Hizb ut-Takhrir. 

Kuku had also been detained in April 2014, soon after Russia’s annexation of his homeland.  The FSB then removed both his and his wife’s laptops, a telephone and seven religious books not on Russia’s list of prohibited literature.   He later posted photos of the marks from beating he had received, and said that if he disappeared, they should look for him at the Yalta FSB office. 

Kuku was detained just weeks after the first four alleged members of Hizb ut-Takhrir were arrested, but immediately released, with no charges linked to

Back in January last year, Abdureshit Dzhepparov called the arrests of the four supposed members of Hizb ut-Takhrir an attempt to intimidate other Muslims and spread the idea among other Crimeans that Muslims are a danger to others.  Thursday’s armed searches and arrests are chilling indicators that no Council of Europe visits or European Parliament resolutions are to be put in the way of further repression and persecution.

Photo from here  A video of the OMON officers during one of the raids can be seen here

Politics and human rights

Put Donbas Hostages on Normandy 4 agenda now

12.02.16 | Halya Coynash
A year after Vladimir Putin agreed that all hostages and prisoners of war would be released on an all for all basis, the militants who answer to Moscow are not only refusing to release those seized earlier, but have recently taken others prisoner.
News from the CIS countries, The right to life

Russia refuses to probe sharp rise in soldiers’ deaths during war in Donbas

12.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Russia’s chief military prosecutor has refused to investigate the death of 159 Russian soldiers who are believed to have been killed in Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine.
Law enforcement agencies

Prosecutor General Shokin’s Year of Failed Investigations and Blocked Reform

11.02.16 | Halya Coynash
It is one year exactly since President Petro Poroshenko put forward Viktor Shokin as Prosecutor General, a post Shokin controversially holds to this day
News from the CIS countries

Six years in a Russian prison for sending a job application

11.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Russian engineer Gennady Kravtsov had been sentenced to 14 years maximum security prison, so the Supreme Court’s reduction of the sentence to 6 years could have been worse. The charges were utterly surreal and his conviction should have been overturned altogether
News from the CIS countries

Russia intensifies reprisals against Crimean political prisoner Gennady Afanasyev

10.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Gennady Afanasyev has been moved to a ‘prison-type cell’, one of the worst forms of punishment in the Russian prison system. This is the latest of constant moves aimed at making the conditions of his imprisonment unendurable since the young Crimean retracted his testimony against Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko
Politics and human rights, News from the CIS countries

Putin accused of directly ordering seizure of Debaltseve after agreed ceasefire

10.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Ruslan Leviev, Russian blogger and head of the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), is convinced that the order for the offensive on Debaltseve in Donbas was issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Social and economic rights

What’s Behind the Resignation of Minister Abromavicius?

10.02.16 | B.A. Kalymon, O. Havrylyshyn
The resignation of Aivaras Abromavicius from the position of Minister of Economic Development and Trade is another nail in the coffin for the hopes for serious reform in Ukraine
The right to life, Against torture and ill-treatment, The right to a fair trial

Kremlin-backed Donbas militants threaten to execute Ukrainian prisoners

09.02.16 | Halya Coynash
A spokesperson for the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic’[‘DNR’] has claimed that the militants are not holding any civilians nor anybody illegally. All those in custody, Darya Morozova asserts, are ‘under investigation’, and could be sentenced to death.
Freedom of expression, Politics and human rights

Scandalous French ‘Masks of the Revolution’ film gets Russian ‘human rights’ award

09.02.16 | Halya Coynash
If Russian involvement in the making of French filmmaker Paul Moreira’s “Masks of the Revolution’ remains in question, there can be no doubt about the Russian propaganda drive now underway. The undisputed coup comes in the ‘human rights award’ to the creators of this film about Euromaidan and other events in Ukraine over the last two years “for courage and professionalism”.
The right to a fair trial

Ukrainian sentenced for civic stand after farcical trial in Russian-occupied Crimea

Volodymyr Balukh has been convicted of ‘insulting a police officer’ after a prosecution and trial that were at once comically inept, and a clear message to any Crimeans taking a civic position – and displaying a Ukrainian flag
News from the CIS countries

Only Torture Rules In Russia’s Trial of Klykh & Karpyuk

08.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Russian psychiatrists have claimed that Ukrainian Stanislav Klykh is fit to stand trial and court hearings at more intensive pace are scheduled to resume on Monday Feb 8. Clear signs of extreme psychological distress have proved as irrelevant to the Russian authorities, as alibis making the trial an absurdity, faulty historical facts and strong evidence to back allegations of torture.

Ominous echoes in bomb attack on Kherson Crimean Tatar Mejlis

Local Crimean Tatar leaders believe that the grenade attack on Sunday morning is part of a general campaign by pro-Russian forces aimed at fermenting trouble in the region and points to similarities with events on the eve of Russia’s annexation of neighbouring Crimea.
News from the CIS countries

Sent to Siberia for Opposing Russia’s Annexation of Crimea

08.02.16 | Halya Coynash
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko have been moved from Rostov, dashing the flickering hope that the Kremlin was already considering an exchange of the two political prisoners.



Will the West accept Potemkim elections in Donbas?

Halya Coynash
The Kremlin-backed militants of the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ are refusing to allow Ukrainian parties to take part in their local elections. This alone would make Western recognition questionable and it is only one of multiple sticking points.

‘Clear Signs of Sabotage’ in Odesa 2 May Investigation

Halya Coynash
20 months after the deadly disturbances and fire in Odesa on May 2, 2014, Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies have not only failed to properly investigate the events and find those responsible, but are effectively sabotaging the investigation.

Free the Kremlin’s 20 Ukrainian Hostages Now

Maria Tomak
In the last two years, campaigns persecuting Ukrainians have become an entirely normalized and systemized form of Russian military aggression.

How Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Sabotaged the Reform Process

Halya Coynash
A proper system of competition, perhaps involving professional organizations not directly selected by politicians, could result in candidates selected for their professional qualities, not political loyalty. Poroshenko’s reluctance to remove Shokin suggests there may be no other way

The Minsk Agreement format should change

Yevhen Zakharov
An attempt to look at the Minsk Agreement from the point of view of human rights

Open Lawlessness as Terror against Crimean Tatars

Halya Coynash
All of Russia’s Crimean victims have had to confront varying forms of lawlessness, but none demonstrates contempt for the law quite so flagrantly as the criminal proceedings against Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz and other Crimean Tatars.

Russia is killing 73-year-old Ukrainian hostage Yury Soloshenko

Halya Coynash
Yury Soloshenko is not Russia’s only Ukrainian hostage, tried and convicted on absurd charges, but he is the only one who has been issued a death sentenc