On Wednesday, 25 January, 2017 in Russia-occupied Crimea, the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Nikolai Polozov, the legal defender of two high-profile Crimean Tatar activists Ahtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov. If the Russian security service succeeds in its attempt at changing Polozov’s status to a witness in the case of Ilmi Umerov, then he will no longer be able to defend Umerov.
Earlier Polozov voiced his fears that the FSB will attempt to bring him in by force for an interrogation in the case of his client. In November 2016 Polozov stated that the FSB investigator in the case of Umerov, who is accused by the Russian Federation of “separatism,” is trying to remove him from the trial by changing his status to that of a witness in the case and attempting to interrogate the advocate.
“The investigator has no grounds for questioning me as a witness. The Law on Advocacy of the Russian Federation, Article 8, imposes a direct ban on lawyer’s questioning as a witness about circumstances he learned in the course of providing legal defense” – the defender of Crimean Tatars stated.
The arrest of lawyer Nikolai Polozov, who is defending Ilmi Umerov, the deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, indicates escalating repressions against Crimean Tatars in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia almost two years ago.
“This is another manifestation of the policy of pressure and intimidation that is traditional for the country and the occupier regime,” – Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, wrote on his Facebook page.
In turn, the head of the Mejlis Refat Chubarov said that the Russian FSB has set the goal to completely isolate repressed Crimean Tatars from their defenders.
He said that Nikolai Polozov’s interrogation is conducted by two FSB investigators: Igor Skripka, who leads the case against Umerov, and Vladimir Shevchenko, a defector from the Security Service of Ukraine.
Polozov’s client Ilmi Umerov said on the air to Channel 112 that if Polozov will be deprived of the right to defend him, then there is a possibility that his defense will be headed by another Russian lawyer Mark Feigin. Umerov noted that there are local lawyers as well.
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