May 10, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the arrest and administrative conviction of lawyer Emil Kurbedinov in Crimea.
Emil Kurbedinov is a vocal human rights lawyer based in Crimea. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, he has actively defended Crimean Tatars, journalists and civil society activists. He has also drawn attention to human rights violations in Crimea through the use of social media, participation in international conferences and reports to international human rights organizations.
Reports indicate that on the morning of January 26, 2017, Emil Kurbedinov was detained by a group of masked and armed representatives of Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism and taken to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. Following his arrest, Emil Kurbedinov’s office was searched and all electronic equipment seized. That same day, the Zheleznodorozhny district court of Simferopol found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organizations” and sentenced him to ten days of administrative detention.
The charge and conviction have been attributed to a social media post Emil Kurbedinov made on June 6, 2013. According to the court, the impugned post, a video recording of Hizb ut Tahrir demonstrations which took place in Crimea in 2013, displayed “symbols of the terrorist organization ‘Hizb ut Tahrir’”. While Hizb ut Tahrir is not a prohibited organization under Ukrainian law, it was deemed a terrorist organization by the Russian Supreme Court in 2003.
The Law Society is troubled by Emil Kurbedinov’s situation and urges the Government of Russia to comply with Russia’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.