February 8, 2017
Human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was released on 5 February in Simferopol, Crimea, having served 10 days in administrative detention to which he was sentenced as reprisal for his human rights work. Kurbedinov vowed to continue his work.
Crimean human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was arrested on 26 January and was immediately sentenced by the Zhelezhnodorozhny District Court in Simferopol to 10 days of administrative detention for purportedly violating Article 20.3 of the Russian Administrative Offences Code (propaganda and public display of Nazi and extremist symbols). The charge related to a social media post from 2013 in which Kurbedinov shared a video of the Muslim organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned under Russian legislation. The social media post predated the Russian occupation of Crimea. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not a banned organisation under Ukrainian law and the video showed a peaceful assembly.
Emil Kurbedinov has been involved as a lawyer in numerous criminal cases against Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatar community has borne the brunt of the crackdown on freedoms and reprisals against all dissenting voices in Crimea after the Russian occupation in 2014. He has worked courageously to draw international attention to human rights violations in the peninsula. After his release, Kurbedinov vowed to continue working for the protection of human rights in Crimea and to continue to perform his professional duties as a lawyer. At the time of writing, Emil Kurbedinov is not facing additional charges, although he remains at risk of further reprisals and harassment by the de facto Crimean and the Russian authorities.
Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.
January 26, 2017
The violent attack against lawyers carrying out their professional duties and defending rights of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied peninsula has been expanding during last two days.
On 25 January, lawyer Nikolai Polozov was detained by FSB officers in Simferopol. It happened immediately after his arrival from the PACE session where he was reporting the facts of political persecution in Crimea. The FSB officers detained him for interrogation in the criminal case against Ilmi Umerov. Since Mr Polozov represents Mr Umerov in this case, he cannot provide witness testimony. Eventually, Mr Polozov was released in 2 and a half hours.
The next day morning, January the 26th, it became known about the abduction of lawyers Edem Semedlyaev and Emil Kurbedinov by representatives of the ‘Center for Combatting Extremism’ (‘Center E’) of the Ministry of internal affairs of the Russian Federation. The lawyers were heading to Bakhchysarai in order to provide legal assistance to the family of a civic activist, Mr Saliev, whose house was being searched since the early morning of that day. The lawyers’ car was stopped by traffic police (‘DPS’) referring to ‘a database check’. Subsequently, officials of “Center E” arrived and declared the ‘administrative detention’ of Emil Kurbedinov.
Emil Kurbedinov was brought to and detained in the premises of the ‘Center for Combatting Extremism’ (‘Center E’) in Simferopol. Later, he was taken to the ‘Zaliznychnii district court of Simferopol’ for an administrative case trial. According to the Kurbedinov’s legal representative, Dzhemil Temishev, Emil is being ‘charged’ with the distribution of ‘extremist materials’. Meanwhile, Russian law enforcement officers carried out unlawful searches in the legal offices of Mr Kurbedinov and Mr Semedlyayev and seized all their equipment, including all the storage devices and documents that are subject to legal advice privilege.
We are firmly convinced that such actions of the Russian security services are the response to their intense activities as human rights lawyers.
January 26, 2017
Today, the 26th of January, lawyer Emil Kurbedinov has been detained by Russian enforcers.
This was announced by lawyer Nicholay Polozov, previously detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) too.
“Lawyer Emile Kurbedinov has been just detained in Crimea. He is on the way to the FSB. The hunting season on lawyers has been officially opened on the peninsula,” wrote Polozov in Facebook.
As it became known, Kurbedinov and his colleague Eden Semedlyaev were detained by the FSB in Bakhchisarai in the moment they were travelling by car to the home of activist Seyran Saliev, searched by Russian enforcers this morning.
Later the enforcers searched the Kurbedinov’s office and house.
The detained lawyer was taken to the Counter Extremism Centre in Simferopol. He was accused of spreading extremist material.
January 25, 2017
A Russian lawyer who is defending a prominent Crimean Tatar activist says he was forcibly detained and taken to a Federal Security Service’s (FSB) office in Russia-controlled Crimea on January 25.
Nikolai Polozov, who was seen being forced into a car by men in civilian clothes, said he was released two hours later.
He said FSB officers had used psychological pressure in an effort to force him to answer questions related to the case of his client, Ilmi Umerov.
Polozov added that he refused to answer the questions.
Polozov’s colleague Mark Feigin said earlier on Twitter that Polozov would risk being barred from representing Umerov if he invoked his right to protect his client’s privacy.
Umerov, former deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body, the Mejlis, was charged with separatism last year after he publicly criticized Moscow’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.
October 17, 2016
Russian lawyer Nicholay Polozov, who defended Nadezhda Savchenko, and now is a lawyer of Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar people Mejlis Ahtem Çiygoz, may be criminally prosecuted in Crimea.
According to the lawyer, he is charged with insulting a representative of authority and direct contempt. “The specific articles of the Code are less important to charge according with, but the fact of pressure on the defense. Because I am, unlike many of the Crimean lawyers, still a stranger and I have a little more freedom than they have. They live in Crimea, and it is very easy to exert pressure on them,” said Polozov.
The lawyer believes the Russian Government wants to show that it is “dangerous, incorrect and harmful” to protect Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.
Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar people Mejlis Ahtem Çiygoz was detained for participation in a rally in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in front of the Parliament building of Crimea on February 26, 2014. Russian authorities accuse him of organizing mass unrest.
June 17, 2015
Three Muslims jailed in Russian-occupied Crimea since January on charges of involvement in the Hizb-ut-Tahrir movement which is banned as ‘terrorist’ in Russia and, but not in Ukraine (or in any other country) have now had their lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, forcibly removed from the case. .
Kurbedinov calls this the latest flagrant violation of the men’s right to legal defence. He says that the FSB investigator demanded his removal from the cases of three out of four Crimean Tatars he is defending, claiming that “the interests of my clients contradict one another”. Since none of the four men made any such application, Kurbedinov rejects such claims as without any justification, and says that the upshot is that three men have been deprived of a lawyer whom they trust.
Typically, he has not received any formal notification of this decision which he says he is willing to appeal. He promises to take action to ensure further defence of his clients.
As reported here, many lawyers in Crimea have succumbed to pressure and are unwilling to take on the numerous cases since Russia’s annexation of Crimea launched on highly questionable grounds. Emil Kurbedinov has been unwavering in defending those unwarrantedly detained and charged.