On 26 April 2017, Russian military court sentenced the Crimean Tatar activist Ruslan Zeytullaev to 12-year imprisonment. He is one of at least 42 Ukrainian citizens who are now held political hostages of the Kremlin.
For three weeks, Ruslan Zeytullaev was on hunger strike in a remand jail cell, protesting against the state terror Russia brought to Crimea.
Among them are men of different ages, professions, and views.
Young prisoner Arsen Dzhepparov is in critical condition due to neck inflammation. He’s been denied vital medical aid, which can be equated to torture. Emir-Usein Kuku was declared a “terrorist” because of his tireless human rights activity. His wife and young children are intimidated by state security officers. Imprisoned chef Remzi Memetov cannot take care of his disabled mother and son Eskender. Eskender, a 19-y.o. violinist, was severely beaten by Russian law enforcers for displaying solidarity with victims of a police raid.
Ruslan Zeytullaev was fighting for all of them. But after long days without food, he could not even stand in court.
The acknowledged Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev had also held hunger strikes in Soviet prisons. He asked Zeytullaev to spare his health and life. Dzhemilev said there was no hope to awake the conscience of Kremlin bosses because they had no conscience.
Ruslan Zeytullaev refused to stop the hunger strike until the sentence was passed.
In December 2016, the UN General Assembly urged Russia to “immediately release Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained [in Crimea] and judged without regard for elementary standards of justice.”