The repression machine of the Russian Federation has already sped up – CrimeaSOS coordinator
Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reacted to the sentences of political prisoners Zekirya Muratov and Vadym Bektemirov and the detention of citizen journalists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine protested in connection with the baseless, politically motivated decisions of the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don dated February 11, 2022, on the sentence to imprisonment on trumped-up charges of Ukrainians, 64-year-old Zekirya Muratov, for eleven years six months and Vadim Bektemirov for eleven years.
According to the verdicts, both citizens of Ukraine should start their terms of imprisonment - three years - in prison, “where the conditions of detention are the worst in the entire penitentiary system of Russia”.
“Numerous procedural violations during the pre-trial investigation, complete disregard by the judges of evidence provided by the defence that the accused were not involved in the alleged actions during the trial indicate the political motivation of the decisions to deprive Zekirya Muratov and Vadim Bektemirov of freedom.
These verdicts are also another confirmation of Russia’s continued systemic political persecution of representatives of the Crimean Tatar people”, - the ministry said.
Ukrainian ombudsperson Lyudmyla Denisova has condemned illegal trials of Crimean Tatars, and other illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.
“By its actions, the occupying country violates the norms of international law, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, - she said.
Denisova also called on representatives of international missions, human rights organizations, and the diplomatic corps to force Russia to end unjustified detentions and trials of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens and return them to their homeland.
“Absolutely standard algorithm of actions of the so-called law enforcement agencies of the occupying authorities. During searches, they plant literature that is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation and then seize it as evidence. They took the same actions in the homes of other detainees. It was obvious that this literature was not opened or used. Of course, this is not valid evidence. In fact, this is a reason from the law enforcement agencies”, - Denis Savchenko, coordinator of the CrimeaSOS public organization, told Suspilne Crimea.
He noted that Zekirya Muratov is the oldest Crimean Tatar political prisoner. He is 64 years old. In addition, he has a group III disability and suffered a hypertensive crisis during his stay in the pre-trial detention centre. Meanwhile, representatives of the judiciary in Crimea, as in the vast majority of other criminal cases, completely ignore basic human rights.
“Vitaliy Vlasov showed up in the case against Zekirya Muratov. He is an FSB investigator, a traitor, and still a citizen of Ukraine. He persecuted other political prisoners: Nariman Dzhelyal, the Akhtemov brothers, Vladislav Yesipenko, and others. Vlasov is a serial human rights violator who specializes in fictitious cases”, - Savchenko said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine continues to call on Russia to overturn the court decision and immediately release Zekirya Muratov and Vadim Bektemirov, as well as all Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by Russia.
Denis Savchenko pointed out that the sentence of 11 years does not correspond to any logic, any procedural standards, and any common sense.
“Currently in Russia murderers or rapists do not receive such terms, and here - a man with a fabricated criminal case, because he professes the Muslim faith. For Zekirya Muratov, eleven years and six months could be a death sentence. No one can guarantee that he will survive this period”, - the coordinator of CrimeaSOS said.
“As long as a person is on the territory of the occupied peninsula, he cannot feel 100% protected from the occupiers. There is a feeling that this repressive machine of the Russian Federation has already accelerated to its fullest, but we will do everything in our power to stop it”, - Denis Savchenko added.
Before the verdict, Vadim Bektemirov made his final statement at the court hearing.
“Stalin’s repression was also once considered a legitimate activity of law enforcement agencies, but then they were given completely different assessments. Beneficiaries of criminal cases against Crimean Tatars and Muslims are the FSB. They are the successors of Stalin’s law enforcement agencies. They are the successors of the Stalinist law enforcement agencies. No wonder the FSB celebrates its anniversaries, counting its age not from 1991 but 1918, no different from the NKVD or the KGB.
Obviously, history does not teach Russia anything. Having on its conscience millions of innocent murdered souls in the past, it did not learn from this lesson did not change its policy towards the repressed peoples. Instead of solving issues that are directly related to the development or decline of the state, it oppresses peacefully living peoples. It is no secret to anyone that it is Russian society that has long been living without a national idea, and demonstrative patriotism is being imposed instead of it”, - the activist said.
He added that the authoritarian regime would soon change to a totalitarian one and noted that Russia was in a state of complete intellectual stagnation.
“Our organization works on searches and arrests. We have prepared a public appeal to our state and the international community. Now Ukraine must collect as much information as possible and inform the international community that human rights violations have again occurred and more than one human life has been harmed again”, - the CrimeaSOS coordinator said.
He stressed the need to contact and support the families of political prisoners because they are in a very difficult psychological, financial, and legal situation.
It is also important to support the defenders of political prisoners, as they remain the only source of information about the state of detention of our citizens.
“Of course, we need to support the prisoners. If it is possible to write a letter - it should be done. A person who enters the colony finds himself in a complete information vacuum. A letter is proof that they are remembered.
No less important is the systematic work on the de-occupation of Crimea. Unfortunately, since 2019, it has not been possible to agree with the Kremlin on another release of political prisoners. Today, their number is growing at an incredible pace”, - Denis Savchenko added.
Zekirya Muratov, Vadim Bektemirov, and other Kremlin political prisoners have chosen not to remain silent about what is happening, not to wait for others to fight for a better life and fight for their rights and their territory.
“I am a citizen of Ukraine, a Crimean Tatar, a disabled person of the 3rd group, a political prisoner, a prisoner of conscience - this is how the entire world recognizes me and other defendants in its numerous resolutions. Although you do not want to admit it and include it in the case file. In the same resolutions and declarations of peace, Crimea was recognized as the territory of Ukraine, and Russia was named the occupier. The 4th Geneva Convention applies to our rights, to which we have been drawing the attention of the aggressor and its servants: the prosecutor’s office, the FSB and the courts of the Russian Federation”, - Zekirya Muratov made his final speech on February 9, 2022, in the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don.
Denis Savchenko said that the occupying authorities had effectively destroyed independent journalism, creating critical obstacles for civil society.
“There is a whole set of violations that we know about because this is what political prisoners, their defenders, and relatives say, but it is not recorded anywhere. All the documentary reality is created by the occupiers. They don’t even feel responsible for violating their own law”, - Denis Savchenko summed up.
Crimean Solidarity Coordinator Lutfie Zudiyeva stressed it is important to remember the people who have the right to defend their own state.
“These verdicts caused a great resonance among the Crimean Tatar people. Zekirya Muratov is a man who cannot go up to the fifth floor on his own. What kind of terrorist actions can be discussed. This is absurd. Vadim Bektemirov is an expert in Islamic sciences. In Crimea, he is known as a philologist and expert in religious sciences. Such a person could not be associated with illegal actions”, - the activist said.
Lutfie Zudiyeva believes that now the most important help will be to pay attention to these criminal cases because they are politically motivated and fabricated. Attention from public authorities and international organizations will be needed.
What is happening in Crimea needs to be covered. This is the only tool that can really influence the situation.
“Publicity can protect people from torture, death, or psychological pressure. It is known that there were three stages of the exchange process. And the lists included people we were talking about a lot. It seems to me that the attention to Crimea should be constantly maintained. It is very difficult to do so because the probable escalation of Ukrainian territories shifts other problems. In such a situation, it is difficult to talk about political prisoners. It should be understood that these are interrelated processes. The war did not start yesterday or a month ago but in 2014. It goes on to this day. It is important not to forget the people who have the right to defend their own state”, - Lutfiye Zudiyeva summed up.