Lawyer jailed in Crimea

<< No 4 (237), 30 January 2017 >>

• On 26 January 2017 human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was jailed for 10 days on charges relating to a video posted legally in 2013 •

emil_kurbedinovHe was detained by armed officers and his home and office premises were searched. Halya Coynash, writing on the website Human Rights in Ukraine, reports that Kurbedinov and his colleague Edem Semedlyaev were travelling to the home of Seiran Saliev, a Crimean Tatar activist where a search was underway.

They were stopped in Bakhchysarai by traffic police, then men in masks, identifying themselves as from the police turned up and took Kurbedinov away. A search in the meantime had begun in the offices that Kurbedinov and Semedlyaev share. Semedlyaev arrived, informed the officers that this was a law firm and that the material in it was therefore covered by legislation on lawyers’ confidentiality. This was ignored and all official equipment, computers, etc. taken away. A search was then made of Kurbedinov’s home, with the building being first surrounded by armed and masked spetsznaz special force officers. For some time they refused to allow lawyer Dzhemil Temishev into the flat, and also tried to prevent Kurbedinov’s mother who arrived to take his small son (Arslan) and daughter (Kamila) away. […]

Kurbedinov himself was taken against his will to the so-called Centre for Countering Extremism, and held there until the court hearing in the Zheleznodorozny District Court in Simferopol in the afternoon, under judge Tatyana Belnichuk. The court was told by police major Renat Shambazov that the police had established on Jan 16, 2017 that on June 6, 2013 Kurbedinov had posted a video clip from a Hizb ut-Tahrir meeting on his VKontakte social network page. The protocol claims that this was “a public demonstration of the symbols and propaganda images of the terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir” and falls under Article 20.3 of Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences. […]

Kurbedinov is reported to have accepted that he could have posted the recording on a social network. Back in 2013, he says, there were a lot of Hizb ut-Tahrir meetings. There was no question of this being propaganda, however, and the organization was quite legal in Crimea. He had posted it and forgotten all about it. He asked for the court to fine him, however this was clearly not the instruction from above and the court produced a 10-day jail term which will assuredly be appealed against.”

On 26 January 2017 Front Line Defenders issued an Urgent Appeal on the case of Emil Kurbedinov after he was detained and sentenced to ten days’ detention by a court in Simferopol for ‘propagandizing for extremist organisations’.

Front Line Defenders stated that it is ‘extremely concerned’ by the arrest and administrative conviction of Emil Kurbedinov and believes these actions ‘to be directly related to his human rights work and his vocal position in denouncing human rights violations in Crimea.’ Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to ‘immediately release Emil Kurbedinov from administrative detention and cease all further forms of surveillance and harassment against him,’ and to ‘guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Crimea are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.’

Photo: Front Line Defenders

Sources

Halya Coynash, ‘Russia resorts to open terrorization of lawyers & their families in occupied Crimea,’ Human Rights in Ukraine, 27 January 2017; ‘Human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov sentenced to ten days’ administrative detention,’ Front Line Defenders, 26 January 2017

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