Tag Archives: Russia

Russia/Crimea: Crimean Tatars Face Unfounded Terrorism Charges

July 12, 2019

Crimean Tatar activists protest politically motivated arrests of terrorism charges in Moscow’s Red Square on July 10, 2019.

Russian authorities have brought unfounded terrorism charges against 24 Crimean Tatars, 20 of whom were arrested during heavily armed raids on their homes in the spring of this year, Human Rights Watch said today. Security officers tortured four of the men, denied lawyers access to search sites, planted evidence, and later briefly detained two activists who spoke out on behalf of the arrested men.

Crimean Tatars are a Muslim ethnic minority indigenous to the Crimean Peninsula. Many openly oppose Russia’s occupation, which began in 2014.The crackdown in the spring of 2019 is the latest in a pattern of repression to smear peaceful activists as terrorists and to stifle dissent in occupied Crimea. Russian authorities should release the activists and stop misusing the country’s overly broad counterterrorism legislation to stifle freedom of opinion, expression, and religion.

“Russian authorities seek to portray Crimean Tatars who oppose Russia’s occupation as ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists,’” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Russian authorities in Crimea are using terrorism charges as a convenient tool of repression.”

Human Rights Watch visited Crimea from May 17 to 20 and interviewed 16 relatives of 9 of those arrested, 5 lawyers representing some of them, and a leading activist with Crimean Solidarity, which provides aid to families of individuals arrested on politically motivated charges. Human Rights Watch also examined some legal documents and seven search sites, including the places where banned books or brochures had been allegedly planted. One lawyer, who is based in Moscow, was interviewed by phone.


Most of the 24 men arrested were active in Crimean Solidarity, a loose association of human rights lawyers, relatives, and supporters of victims of political repression. All have been charged with association with Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), the controversial pan-Islamist movement that is banned in Russia as a “terrorist” organization but is legal in Ukraine. Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks the establishment of a caliphate but does not espouse violence to achieve its goals.





Faces of the Crimean Solidarity group who Russia baselessly arrested as “terrorists”



Turkey/Russia: Lawyer for suspect in Karlov assassination case indicted over Gülen links

May 20, 2019

Erdem Semih Yıldız, the lawyer for Salih Yılmaz, who is standing trial in connection with the December 2016 murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, has been indicted for alleged links to the Gülen movement, the T24 news website reported on Monday.

The indictment demanded up to 15 years’ imprisonment for Erdem Semih Yıldız due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup in 2016 and labels as a terrorist group.

Karlov was shot dead by an off-duty policeman while speaking at an Ankara exhibit opening in December 2016. The gunman, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, was killed by police at the scene.

In the course of the assassination Altıntaş shouted slogans in reference to Russia’s offensive in Aleppo as well as a war chant used by a jihadist group in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the pro-government media were quick to lay the blame on the Gülen movement.

They insisted on the narrative despite the fact that many suspects denied having any links with the movement and admitted other Islamic affiliations.



https://www.sabah.com.tr/gundem/2019/05/20/karlov-davasindaki-fetocu-avukat-desifre-oldu (TURKCE)

https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/turkiye/2019/05/20/karlov-saniginin-avukatina-feto-iddianamesi/ (TURKCE)

https://www.takvim.com.tr/guncel/2019/05/20/karlov-suikasti-saniginin-avukatinin-soke-eden-mesajlari-ortaya-cikti (TURKCE)

Russia: With So Many Political Prisoners, What’s Putin Afraid Of?

April 30, 2019

russian president vladimir putin

By all outward appearances, Vladimir Putin’s hold on power seems secure.

His party won the 2018 elections with 77 percent of the vote.

He has consolidated his control of the Russian media.

Most of his rivals have either died or been driven into exile.

Now he can deploy his country’s wealthiest oligarchs to pursue the Kremlin’s agenda — just as he did after U.S. President Donald Trump won the 2016 election. So why is the Russian president so scared?

One might think an autocrat who has rigged his nation’s political rules to stay in power would have little to fear from dissidents. Allowing a nominal opposition might even have benefits, such as relieving economic pressure from the U.S. and its allies in the West and making it easier for his henchmen to spend their fortunes.

Nevertheless, Putin remains afraid of dissent. Consider a report released this week by the Coalition to Free the Kremlin’s Political Prisoners. Composed of a dozen Western and Russian non-governmental organizations, the group found that as of March 25, Russian jails held 236 political prisoners.

That is more than five times the political prisoners Russia held in 2015, when the total was just 46. At a press conference Monday, exiled opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza provided yet more perspective for that figure.

When the famous physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, he claimed the Soviet Union held 126 prisoners of conscience.

It’s extraordinary to think that today, nearly 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia holds almost twice as many. Today’s Russian political prisoners include journalists, activists and lawyers. Some are falsely charged with serious crimes such as murder and embezzlement.



Russia: Home of Aleksandr Peredruk’s parents searched

April 4, 2019

On 2 April 2019, the apartment of Aleksandr Peredruk’s parents located in Murmansk, Russia was searched by an investigator from the Special Case Investigation Department and a Federal Security Service official. The search was made as part of the investigation into a suicide attack in Arkhangelsk in 2018, and the human rights defenders believe it may be an attempt to link him to the event.

Aleksandr Peredruk is a human rights lawyer from Saint Petersburg. He works for the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of Russia’s leading organisations monitoring human rights abuses in the country. He is also a member of the organisation Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint Petersburg which provides free legal and social assistance to conscripts, soldiers and those undertaking alternative civil service, as well as their family members. Further, the human rights defender is involved in Apologia of Protest, a project defending the right to peaceful protest in Russia.

On 2 April 2019, at 6 in the morning, an investigator from the Special Case Investigation Department and a Federal Security Service official searched the apartment of Aleksandr Peredruk’s parents in Murmansk. The human rights defender was registered under their address until March 2018 but has not lived there for the last five years. During the search, a computer and a flash drive were seized. According to the official warrant, the inspection was related to the investigation into a suicide bomb attack that had taken place on 31 October 2018 in the city of Arkhangelsk. Aleksandr Peredruk denied having any connection to the case and he believes that the search may have been an attempt to link him to the event.


Crimea/Ukraine/Russia: Emil Kurbedinov’s Membership in the Crimean Bar Association Maintained

February 22, 2019


On 22 February 2019, the Crimean Bar Association decided to maintain the membership of the human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, contrary to the request received from the Crimean Directorate of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

Emil Kurbedinov is an outspoken human rights lawyer in Crimea. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, he has been actively involved in defence of the Crimean Tatars, who have become one of the major targets for the authorities, as well as civil society activists and journalists. He has also drawn attention to human rights violations in Crimea using social media, international conferences and reporting before international human rights mechanisms.

On 22 February 2019, the Crimean Bar Association considered the possibility to exclude Emil Kurbedinov from the list of its founders and members. The Association decided to maintain his membership after establishing a special commission for this purpose, in accordance with Russian law.

On 10 January 2019, Emil Kurbedinov received a letter (dated 18 December 2018) from the Crimean Directorate of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation notifying him that according to 1.2 (4) of Article 15 of the Federal Law “On non-commercial organisations”, a person that has been convicted of extremism cannot be a founder or a member of non-commercial organisation. Emil Kurbedinov is founder and member of Crimean Bar Association. The letter refers to two administrative convictions of Emil Kurbedinov for a post that he published on two of his social media accounts.







https://1k.com.ua/zaderzhanie-arhiepiskopa-ptsu-v-krymu-okkupanty-nazvali-prichinu.html (UKRANIAN)

http://ua-story.com.ua/78657-do-zatrymanogo-arhiyepyskopa-ptsu-klymenta-prybuly-advokaty-stattyu-zatrymannya-zminyly.html (UKRANIAN)

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1158924/crimee-russie-annexion-cinq-ans-anniversaire-tamara-alteresco (FRANCAIS)

Russia: A Russian Lawyer Said She Filmed Police Abuse. Then She Was Found Dead.

March 8, 2019

Outside the Investigative Committee headquarters in Usolye-Sibirskoye (file photo)

Human rights lawyer Galina Muzyka was found dead in her apartment in the Siberian city of Usolye-Sibirskoye late on March 2 under what fellow activist and regional public oversight commission member Pavel Glushchenko described as “strange circumstances,” one day after she is thought to have made a cell phone video allegedly showing nine Investigative Committee employees beating a detained suspect.

The chain of events leading up to that somber discovery began on a local road on the night of February 28. Mikhail Zagvozdin was driving together with his 18-month-old son when he approached an intersection too quickly and nearly rear-ended the car in front of him, his wife, Yulya Zagvozdina, told RFE/RL on March 1.

The driver of the other vehicle got out and tried to hit him through the window that Zagvozdin had opened to speak with the man. Zagvozdin said he did not want to get out of the car with his son in it. When the man allegedly reached in and tried to grab his keys, Zagvozdin began to drive off.



Crimea/Russia/Ukraine: Russian Authorities Increase Pressure on Crimean Human Rights Lawyer

January 14, 2019

Justice Ministry Calls for Emil Kurbedinov’s Expulsion from Bar Association


Few human rights lawyers are brave enough to work in Crimea these days. A recent letter from Russia’s Ministry of Justice to Crimean defense lawyer Emil Kurbedinov threatening his profession is yet another stark reminder that Russian authorities intend to keep it that way.

Last month, Kurbedinov was arrested on charges of “public distribution of extremist materials” and sentenced to five days in jail for a 2013 social media post about a meeting in Crimea of supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist political movement opposed to violence. Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Russia as a terrorist organization but operates legally in Ukraine. Kurbedinov had previously spent ten days in jail in 2017 after the court sentenced him on the same charges and for the very same post, but made on a different social media site.

Shortly after his release on December 25, Russia’s Justice Ministry sent Kurbedinov and the Crimean Bar Association letters requesting that Kurbedinov be expelled from the bar association by March 1 because of alleged involvement in “extremist activities.”











http://old.qha.com.ua/tr/toplum/hak-savunuculardan-uluslararasi-topluma-kurbedinov-cagrisi/176069/ (TURKCE)