A Russian court sentenced four Crimean Tatars, allegedly members of the so-called ‘third Bakhchisaray group’, to 12-17 years in a high-security prison.
The Southern District Military Court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don convicted the four Crimean Tatars - Seitumer Seitumerov, Osman Seitumerov, Rustem Seitmemetov and Amet Suleymanov to a total of 56 years on alleged "terrorism" charges.
The court ruled on Friday, October 26, 2021, to sentence Seitumer Seitumerov to 17 years, Osman Seitumerov – 14 years, Rustem Seitmemetov – 13 years and Amet Suleymanov – 12 years in prison.
All the Muslim activists are suspected of involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group, which has been recognised as a terrorist organisation in Russia since 2003 but operates freely in Ukraine and most European countries.
Ombudsperson: Such an illegal judgement
“56 years in prison for four men! Such an illegal judgment was delivered by the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don against members of the so-called ‘third Bakhchisaray group’, convicting them under Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (establishment and participation in a terrorist organization),” Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova said.
“Russian prosecutors achieved the illegal imprisonment of Crimean Tatars for a crime they did not commit," Denisova stressed.
Crimean Tatar families left without breadwinners
According to the ombudsperson, "cynicism and lies" of the Russian Federation left Crimean families without breadwinners, one of them – without three at once: Osman Seitumerov and Seitumer Seitumerov are brothers, and Rustem Seitmemetov is an uncle on their mother’s side.
“Amet Suleymanov is a person with a disability who needs regular medical care because he has serious heart problems. For him, 12 years in prison is tantamount to death,” she noted.
Russia violates international law
Condemning the illegal sentence against Ukrainian citizens, Denisova asserted that the Russian occupation forces violated international law.
“By prosecuting Crimean Tatars and other illegally detained Ukrainians, the occupying power violates international law, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Denisova said.
The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights called on representatives of international missions, human rights organizations, and diplomatic corps to force Russia to end unjustified detentions and trials of illegally detained Ukrainian citizens and transfer them to the homeland.
As reported, on March 11, 2020, the houses of Crimean Tatars – Enver Mustafayev, Amet Suleymanov, brothers Seitumer and Osman Seitumerovs, and their uncle Rustem Seitmemetov – were searched in Bakhchisaray.
Mustafayev was released after interrogation. The rest (“third Bakhchisaray group”) were charged under Part 2 of Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code (establishment of a terrorist organization and participation in the activities of such an organization).
About Hizb-ut Tahrir
After the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the invaders started persecuting independent journalists, civil activists, members of the Crimean Tatar national movement, the Mejlis, as well as Crimean Muslims suspected of links with the international Islamic political organisation Hizb-ut Tahrir.
Hizb-ut Tahrir is a global organisation based in London that seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate, while rejecting terror tools to achieve their goal. It is banned in Russia as a terrorist organisation but operates legally in Ukraine.
Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea, who target members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community and others who have spoken out against Moscow's takeover of the peninsula.
Russian occupation of Crimea
Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after sending in troops, seizing key facilities, and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.
The West did not recognise the occupation in response to which sanctions against Russia were introduced. Crimea remains internationally recognised territory of Ukraine.