STATEMENT AGAINST PERSECUTION OF LAWYERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN OCCUPIED CRIMEA
Today, on 6 December 2018, Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, who defends many of the Ukrainian prisoners held captive by the Kremlin, has been detained by officials of the Center for Combating Extremism in Crimea on counts of Article 20.3 of the Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offences (propaganda or public display of Nazi attributes or symbols, or attributes or symbols of extremist organizations, or other attributes or symbols, propaganda or public display of which is prohibited by federal laws).
We strongly condemn persecution of lawyers and human rights defenders in the occupied Crimea and demand that the Russian Federation government immediately cease unlawful suppression and obstruction of lawyer work and human rights activities, as well as the use of Russia’s “anti-extremism and anti-terrorism” legislation in the occupied territory, in violation of international humanitarian law, for persecuting people for their public, lawyer and human rights activities.
We call international organizations and governments of democratic states:
- To continue putting pressure on the Russia’s government to put a stop to the persecution of Crimean Solidarity activists and obstruction of the work of independent lawyers in the occupied Crimea.
- To condemn the use by Russia of its own “anti-terrorism and anti-extremism” legislation for prosecuting lawyers, human rights defenders and civil society activists in the occupied Crimea.
- To impose personal sanctions on persons involved in gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea, as well as on those directly involved in the obstruction of lawyer work and persecution of the Crimean Solidarity. In particular, to impose the personal sanctions against representatives of the occupying law enforcement agencies, namely, Sushko Andrei Vladimirovich, Federal Security Service, born 1976 (Сушко Андрей Владимирович) and Shambazov Ruslan Rinatovich, Ministry of Interior (Шамбазов Руслан Ринатович). Both of them are interlinked with the illegal persecution of Emil Kurbedinov, as well as other Ukrainian citizens, persecuted for political motives, as well as with the cases, where the use of the tortures was reported, in particular, the cases of Renat Paralamov and Oleksander Kostenko.
- To strengthen sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation for systematic gross violations of human rights and war crimes in the occupied Crimea.
It should be reminded that this is not the first case when Emil Kurbedinov is subjected to persecution by the occupying power. In August 2016, while Emil was in Rostov-on-Don, unknown individuals tried to invade into his office.
On 26 January 2017, he was detained by a group of masked representatives from the abovementioned Center and taken to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation; the same day, the de-facto Zheleznodorozhny district court of Simferopol found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organizations” and sentenced to ten days’ detention. Following his arrest, searches took place at his house and office (as well as at the office of Emil’s colleague and human rights defender Edem Semedliayev) and all electronic equipment was seized. The arrest of the lawyer caused a strong reaction from the international community, including Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
On 27 October 2018, representatives of the Crimean occupying authorities stormed a monthly meeting of the Crimean Solidarity NGO and handed a notice regarding so-called violation of anti-extremism and anti-terrorism law to Emil Kurbedinov’s close associates Edem Semedliayev, lawyer representing political prisoners, Lilya Gemedji, lawyer and human rights defender, and Diliaver Memetov, Crimean Solidarity coordinator. (Crimean Solidarity is a platform that brings together relatives and lawyers of political prisoners, providing legal, financial and moral support to victims of the regime and their families.)
Furthermore, in November 2018, representative of the Center for Combating Extremism in Crimea together with the de-facto prosecutor Valentyn Chuprina came to Emil Kurbedinov’s office and served him a warning against violating anti-extremism laws.
All of these incidents can and should be considered as a systematic pressure at the independent lawyers and human rights defenders in occupied Crimea. During previous few years, at least three Crimean Tatar human rights activists were detained following politically motivated criminal charges.
Noteworthy here that Emil Kurbedinov is an outspoken human rights lawyer in Crimea – in 2017, for his human rights activity and strong position he was honoured with the Front Line Defenders award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.
Crimean Human Rights Group
Human Rights Information Center
Media Initiative for Human Rights
Regional Center for Human Rights
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
This statement is open for signature