Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Protests Crimean Tatars’ Convictions by Russia
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has protested the convictions of six Crimean Tatars by a Russian court. They were charged with terrorism and alleged involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization, which is banned in Russia. The Foreign Ministry insists that the case is politically motivated and calls on the Kremlin to release the Ukrainian citizens
Six Crimean Tatars were charged by a Russian court with terrorism and alleged involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization.
The Hizb ut-Tahrir, though legal in Ukraine, is banned in Russia and declared to be a terrorist organization.
Kyiv has said that the case is politically motivated and calls on the Kremlin to release the Ukrainian citizens.
More than 100 people came to the building of the South military court in Rostov on Don, Russia, to support the Crimean Tatars. Among the supporters was the representative of Amnesty International and the Ukrainian consul in Rostov on Don.
The verdict took only 15 minutes to announce. Muslim Aliev was sentenced to 19 years in prison, Inver Bekirov — 18 years, Emir-Usein Kuku and Vadym Siruk — 12 years, Arsen Dzhepparov — seven years, and Refat Alimov — eight years. All of them are to be held in a high-security prison.
“The court session today was a blitzkrieg. It lasted 14 minutes. The court announced the sentence. Essentially it is persecution for political and religious reasons. And as we said, it is an attempt to humiliate the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea,” said a representative of Amnesty International in Russia, Aleksandr Artemiev.
The Crimean Tatars’ lawyers will appeal the sentence. They say that the investigation did not present any evidence of the complicity of the defendants being involved in terrorist attacks or violent acts.
The persecution was built on the basis of Crimean Tatars attending gatherings, reading religious literature, discussing social and political issues, and allegedly being part of the Hizb ut tahrir organization, considered terroristic in Russia.
“This court is a farce with the sentence being known from the very beginning. There was no expert evaluation, no investigation. It is a political order. The time they have to serve. Allah will decide how long will they serve,” said wife of Emir-Usein Kuku, Meriam Kuku-Achshi.
The investigation on the Hizb ut Tahrir case lasted for 3.5 years.
After searches in Yalta in February 2016, four Crimean Tatars were arrested. One of them, Emir-Usein Kuku, is a human rights activist.
In April, the court arrested two Crimean Tatars. All of them were transferred to Rostov on Don, where court was held.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Parliament and Representatives of the U.S mission to the OSCE have all demanded that Russia free the Crimean Tatars.