April 24, 2017
After the Russian annexation, few Crimean law professionals are eager to take on sensitive, politically charged cases. From Euroradio.
Three years after the March 2014 events, the Kremlin insists that Crimea is part of the Russian Federation. Kyiv’s official stance is that the Crimean peninsula is a temporarily occupied territory. Crimean activists, politicians, and citizens who oppose the annexation of Crimea have been tried for violating Russian law. The Russian organization Memorial considers them political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. Given the legal status of the peninsula, attorneys cannot prove they are not guilty or perform their professional duties in general without difficulty.
We meet lawyer Emil Kurbedinov next to his small office in the center of Crimea’s capital, Simferopol. We have to talk in the street, as his clients took all the free seats in his office. People come to him with different issues asking for help, but Kurbedinov prefers to defend those detained on political charges, such as those people who do not think that Crimea is Russian. As a result, the lawyer recently spent 10 days under administrative arrest. Policemen searched his office and seized documents containing classified judicial information. This happened because Kurbedinov dared to use his phone to film a search that took place in the office of one of his fellow citizens. Before that, the lawyer had received hints from “high-ranking people” that he should quit legal practice.
“From the very beginning we tried to shed light on all cases we considered politically motivated,” Kurbedinov explains. “We wanted people, both here and abroad, to see how trials took place, how the evidence was presented, and so on. That bothered very much those who held the trials, the prosecution.”
Among Kurbedinov’s clients are leaders of the Mejlis [the Crimean parliament outlawed by Russia as an “extremist” organization in 2016] who have been accused of calls to “violate the territorial integrity of Russia.”
March 31, 2017
The Jury has selected human rights defenders from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait as finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:
Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine
Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.
Finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award come from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait
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.