By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik
Amnesty Worldwide just lately launched a public statement elevating the worsening human rights state of affairs in Crimea marking three years beneath Russian rule because the Peninsula’s illegal annexation in March 2014.
Regardless of Amnesty’s name for human rights in final yr’s briefing ‘Crimea at nighttime: the silencing of dissent’, Russian and Crimean de facto authorities proceed to accentuate their persecution of political activists, dissenting voices, and ethnic Crimean Tatars.
Russian authorities have banned the Crimean Tatar Mejilis as an “extremist” group in April 2016, and have used this ploy to additional harass and persecute the human rights of this group. Members of the Mejilis are pressed with ungrounded administrative fines for personal conferences, as per Russian legislation, as within the case of Crimean Tatar activist Ilmi Umerov who's presently going through fees which will lead as much as 2 years of imprisonment for allegedly making “public calls in opposition to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.”
A key barrier to bettering or just monitoring the human rights state of affairs in Crimea is entry to the Peninsula, since its annexation, de facto authorities have refused entry to worldwide and regional human rights mechanisms, amongst them, the OSCE Excessive Commissioner on Nationwide Minorities and the UN Particular Rapporteur on Minority Points. The state of affairs is additional difficult by the established border with Ukraine, limiting entry to the peninsula, as “entry to Crimea by way of Russia now constitutes a Legal offence beneath Ukrainian legislation.”
Within the released statement, Amnesty Worldwide calls for for unconditional and rapid entry to Crimea for human rights monitoring mechanisms, to “be capable of report on their findings from the bottom, with none obstruction or interference by any occasion.”
Akhtem Chiygoz, deputy chief of the Crimean Tatar Mejilis, and prisioner of conscience, is going through outright illegal fees, restricted rights to prosecution, and will resist 15 years in jail. He's “accused of getting ‘organized mass disturbances’ in Crimea on February 26, 2014,” and to this date faces brutally partial prosecution.
He's denied bodily entry to his trial and is compelled to participate by way of Skype, thus stopping interplay along with his lawyer in personal, and permitting for interruptions to the court docket listening to and his receiving audio high quality because of a poor web connection.
These distant measures are in place as Chiygoz’s bodily presence within the courtroom would ostensibly pose “hazard,” regardless of his detention lower than a block away from the courthouse.
Following his arrest on January 29, 2015, Russian safety companies arrested 5 different Crimean Tatars, as a part of the identical prison investigation, and accused them of collaborating in the identical ‘mass disturbances’, three of which have been launched on bail, with Ali Asanov and Mustafa Dehermenzhy remaining in detention.
The prosecution relies on a complete of seven secret witnesses of which solely three have been testified, Amnesty Worldwide was not in a position to attend court docket classes, nevertheless as per journalist stories, the witnesses “contradicted themselves of their testimonies, have been inconsistent, and altered their statements repeatedly once they contradicted the prosecutions assertions.”
Mustafa Dehermendzhy appeared in court docket as a witness within the case in opposition to Akhtem Chiygoz and testified that he was approached by authorities and the Federal Safety Service (FSB) with an “provide” to testify in opposition to Chiygoz in trade for freedom, following this look his trial continues.
Russian lawyer Nikolay Polozov a part of the protection staff of Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz is confronted with rising stress from Russian authorities, together with threats of prison prosecution for defending shoppers in Crimea. Polozov was forcefully extracted from his lodge in Simferopol and brought to the FSB Crimea headquarters on January 25, 2017 to be questioned by the FSB investigator in Umerov’s case.
On January 26, 2017, lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was arrested and sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention for spreading “extremist” info.
Extremism is one other tactic Russian authorities use to prosecute Crimean Tatars and political activists, as allegations of connections are made with the Islamist group “Hizb ut-Tahrir” (which is acknowledged as a terrorist group in Russia).
On February 11, 2016, human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and Vadim Siruk have been arrested and prosecuted for allegedly being concerned within the Islamist group, as per Russian legislation “membership of a terrorist group carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail.”
Amnesty Worldwide requires rising consciousness of the deteriorating human rights state of affairs in Crimea, intergovernmental efforts to permit entry to the peninsula for human rights efforts, the necessity of truthful trial, rights to enough authorized illustration for prosecution, and the necessity for de facto and Russian authorities to respect important human rights, the rights to freedom of expression, peaceable meeting and affiliation.
A full record of suggestions is on the market within the Crimea in the Dark: The Silencing of Dissent briefing.
Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik is a Chair of the Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty Worldwide USA.