FSB intimidates Crimean Tatar children
Russia arrested and illegally detained 14 citizens of Ukraine of Crimean Tatar origin. The Russian law enforcement exerts pressure on prisoners, their relatives, and even children, lacking any evidence of their crime.
Oleksandr Popkov is a Russian lawyer, who represents the human rights activist Emir Hüseyin Kuku. Emir Hüseyin was detained on charges of terrorism. The lawyer said that his client was a member of the contact group on human rights and was involved in the investigations of cases concerning the abduction and disappearances of the Crimean Tatars.
‘Because of these activities, the Russian Security Services dislike and prosecute him,’ Oleksandr Popkov says.
On April 20, 2015, FSB tried to arrest Emir Hüseyin near his home. Then they beat him and made a search of his apartment. The lawyer said that they also tried to kidnap him, but a lot of people came because of the noise, and the search was stopped. Emir Hüseyin was free for almost a year until 11 February 2016, when he was detained on charges of participation in the organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is considered terrorist in Russia. According to Oleksandr Popkov, the period of detention of Emir Hüseyin was extended until October 2016.
‘The charges consist of heinous crimes, including removing of non-Islamic governments throughout the world by the murder of citizens, who do not want to become Muslims,’ Oleksandr Popkov said.
During a public court proceeding, some memorandum became public, and the charges were based on this document only. The memorandum says that the alleged three citizens, including Emir Hüseyin, discussed recruiting activities, they were allegedly engaged.
‘A man is being judged for the kitchen talk with two friends on how they will “pass” someone to someone. I believe the fight against terrorism is a very important matter. However, attributing clearly fabricated crimes to some citizens is ridiculous’, Oleksandr Popkov outraged.
According to Oleksandr Popkov, FSB tried to recruit Emir Hüseyin but failed, so he, like Gennadiy Afanasiev, is now being punished for refusal. The detainee wrote a complaint against the actions of the police in 2015. A year later, an internal investigation was conducted. As a result, it became clear that the police have complained that Emir Hüseyin allegedly beat them in response to a request to show the documents. During the investigation, employees of FSB, allegedly beaten by Emir Hüseyin, constantly confused the testimony. Also, they provided the certificates of beating issued by the department clinics, but a medical examination took place two months later and showed that the nature of injury does not coincide with those specified in the certificates, and those people had other names and surnames. Instead, Emir Hüseyin experienced a number of beatings. Oleksandr Popkov said that FSB purposefully was looking for criminal activities of the detainee in order to throw him in jail for nonexistent crimes. At first, it was the extremist Article 282, then calls for terrorism, the attack on FSB employees, finally they decided to attribute to him the activities of the terrorist organization. Oleksandr Popkov said that Oleksandr Kompaneytsev, a former employee of SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), falsified the case. He also tried to recruit Emir Hüseyin even after his detention in Simferopol predetention center.
According to Оlexander Popkov, FSB began to use particularly heinous methods of influence on the detainees, began to intimidate their children. In April 2016, a secret agent of the FSB came to the school, where the 9-year-old son of Emir Hüseyin Bekir Kuku studied. The agent told the boy in the presence of his sister: ‘Your mother is cheating you, in fact, your father went on a business trip, he joined bad people, and now he will be imprisoned for ten years.’ The FSB agent said that he intimidated the child by the order of Oleksandr Kompaneytsev.
Emil Kurbedinov, the lawyer of several arrested people in the cases of Crimean Muslims, believes that extremism, terrorism, and Islam in Russia became means to combat resistance.
‘During the trial, all the rights of the accused were violated, starting from the right to defense. Two months after the beginning of my work, the order of my withdrawal were issued. I did not even receive it, so was not able to lodge an appeal. In addition, arrests and periods of detention were unfounded; the whole pre-trial investigation was built only on conjecture and assumptions’, he said.
According to Emil Kurbedinov, intimidations came from FSB to the people, who were present at the trial. The people were handed summonses in the hall, and they were obliged to come in for questioning as witnesses in the case. After that, they were not allowed to enter the courtroom, as they became witnesses.
People, who do not associate themselves with the Russian Federation, are in danger,
– Mykhailo Tarakhkalo about the situation in Crimea
‘Currently, the majority of the witnesses withdrew the testimony given during the pre-trial investigation and said that they were completely innocent people. The former employee of SBU, now FSB, Mr. Kozhemyaka, who has a long-standing personal hostility to the accused, insisted on his testimony. Those witnesses, who withdrew the testimony could not answer basic questions in the court in respect of the alleged illegal activities of the accused.’
According to Emil Kurbedinov, the expertise of the expressions showed many absurd falsifications. For example, the word in the Crimean Tatar language, which means “gathering of citizens,” the expert declared as a special term used only by members of “the terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.”
Emil Kurbedinov also defends Enver Mamutov, a Crimean Tatar, who is now in solitary confinement in a predetention center. The basis of the investigation took a record of the home conversations. In the conversation, Enver was discussing with friends the influence of media on the information war between Ukraine and Russia, as well as the situation of the Crimean Tatars in the peninsula. These were enough in order to accuse him of terrorism and put him into prison.
‘Even the accusations of a man of belonging to the terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir is absurd, because, since the prohibition of the organization in Russia in 2003, there were no facts, which would have confirmed the status, granted by the Russian police. Therefore, all Crimean Tatars detainees are political prisoners’, Emil Kuberdinov said.
The Director of the Strategic Litigation Center of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Mykhailo Tarakhkalo said that Russia turns Crimea into horror.
‘People, who do not associate themselves with the Russian Federation, are in danger. We believe the case against the Crimean Tatars is a part of a campaign against Muslims in the peninsula. The analysis of these cases revealed a huge number of violations, which meant that when considering them at international level, particularly in the European Court, they have very good prospects. We hope that the international community establishes these violations and requires the release of these people and decent compensation for the suffering that were caused’, he said.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Union from the very beginning provided the legal support of the Crimea cases and collected a lot of violations, such as beating during the arrests, detention in terrible conditions of tight prison cells, when the prisoners were forced to sleep in turns.
‘This is one element of pressure on detainees, forcing them to accept the charges in exchange for better conditions. This indicates that Russia has simply no evidence against the accused,’ says Mykhailo Tarakhkalo.
According to Mykhailo Tarakhkalo, detention of Crimean Tatars is also completely ill-founded.
‘The Russian courts issued formulaic judgments with the purpose to extend the period of detention without indicating specific timing and motives. Why is it not enough to use written undertakings not to leave the place? After all, they have not tried to escape,’ Mykhailo Tarakhkalo said.
According to Mykhailo Tarakhkalo, it can also be questioned, why Russian judges were not thinking about methods of investigations since the vast majority of witnesses (80%) withdrew their testimonies in the course. The judges also refused to revise the conclusions of questionable expertise or invite other more independent experts.
‘The courts of the Russian Federation did not allow people to protect themselves. They just hang labels and publicly expose these people guilty,’ Mykhailo Tarakhkalo says.
Mariia Tomak, the coordinator of the Campaign #LetMyPeopleGo, ask Ukrainian citizens to write letters to detainees, who are currently held in a detention center in Rostov-on-Don, namely to Ruslan Zeytullayev, Nuri Primov, Rustem Vaitov and Ferat Sayfullayev. The address is 344010, the Russian Federation.
Photo and text were prepared by Oleh Shynkarenko especially for Livyi Bereh (the Left Bank)
Photo of the cover – Max Trebuhov, Livyi Bereh
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