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“Stay, my people!” – last word of Crimean Tatar political prisoner Zeytullaev

Ruslan Zeytullaev, a Crimean Tatar sentenced to 15 years in prison for privately expressing his beliefs, has declared a termless hunger strike. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk
“Stay, my people!” – last word of Crimean Tatar political prisoner Zeytullaev
Translated by: Kseniya Kozachuk
On 27 July 2017, the Russian Supreme Court extended the lawless prison sentence on the Crimean Tatar activist Ruslan Zeytullaev to 15 years. He is one of at least 46 Ukrainian citizens held political hostage in Russia and occupied Crimea.

Ruslan, who was tried solely for his privately expressed thoughts on morals, politics, and religion, addressed both his Crimean Tatar compatriots and his tormentors with a powerful “last word” speech. Euromaidan Press publishes its full translation.

I would like to appeal to my long-suffering people, who have sustained a lot of violence and forcible resettlements, who want to retain our faith, which the faithless cannot understand, who succeeded to return to their homeland from all the distant lands, to which there is an explanation hidden in archives. I appeal to the people called Crimean Tatars.

Ruslan Zeytullaev wears a t-shirt with the inscription "Order is fulfilled" on the day of his trial
Ruslan Zeytullaev wears a t-shirt with the inscription “Order is fulfilled” on the day of his trial

Brothers and sisters! Thank you for your support to my family and friends. I hope no one will eradicate this quality of character from my nation. It stays united and solidary as a single organism, though ill-wishers want to break us up into groups and clans in order to play off one against another by giving money to some of us and making the others outcasts.

I hope they will not succeed in this. Do not pay attention to the present reality – I mean searches, arrests, imprisonments, and prohibitions. Even if they imprison all our people, the rest of the world will see this injustice, thus our people will become an example to follow and will get stronger as a result.

Crimea is the gem of our ancestors, who knew how to turn into a blossoming flower garden. One of them said when Russian security officers were searching his grandson’s house:

“We have nothing to fear. When I was at the age of my grandson, the NKVD [the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs until 1946 — Ed.] came to us, the KGB [the Committee for State Security until 1991 — Ed.] came to my son, and now we see the FSB [the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation — Ed.]. People like you [the perpetrators of repressions — Ed.] come and pass, and our nation stays.”

Stay, my people! And they who break the international law will be accountable for their deeds even if it seems ridiculous to them now.

Everything has its end, and this injustice will have its end, too. That’s why I ask you to stay [in Crimea — Ed.]; those of you who left, I ask you to come back home and transform our mother Crimea because it’s only you who can do it.

In the 21st century, repressions have affected me and my long-suffering people. That’s not a surprise to me; I have made my choice, and this persecution is in response to it. Lies won’t last forever. What concerns the information field, and what is shown as a war on terrorism is just a terrifying formula for mass intimidation.

Propaganda saturated with falsehood will vanish, just as darkness vanishes when it’s touched with a ray of light. This happens even if the light is faint because the darkness is always doomed to failure.

The truth will prevail this time, too.

I thank my people. For already two years, the security service of the Russian Federation has been trying to show me that my activity brings nothing good to my family and friends and that my hunger strikes will kill me. In spite of this, I am sure that, if I die here, my family will be proud of me, and I will remain an example of dignity, moral courage, and fortitude for those who help them.

Wife and daughters of Ruslan Zeytullaev. Photo:

People who hear me, take a look around and see how much sorrow is everywhere! Open your heart to the good.

If I was told three years that ago an ordinary builder and father of three little daughters could be sculpted into a terrorist, I would laugh out loud. Many thanks to the Ren TV Channel for having shot their propagandistic films about me. It’s amazing how easy it is to make a bogeyman for all the Crimea out of an ordinary person.

A man with the family name Zeytullaev used to live a quiet life and work as a builder. Then Russia came – and all of a sudden he “decided to set up a terroristic cell” in order to – how do they write it? – “establish a theocratic state.” Thanks a lot! At least now I know what a theocratic state is, thanks to this formula. But I wonder who came up with this scenario in the first place? Who needs it?

Zeytullaev with his lawyers, Edem Semedlyaev and Emil Kurbedinov. Photo: RFE/RL

I will resist together with my advocates, we will lodge complaints and struggle to show I am not a criminal, though I do not believe in justice. As a citizen of Ukraine, I am considered a political prisoner by most human rights organizations all over the world, and the number of those who realize the absurdity of the court judgment in my case will increase. A river cuts through rock.

I am not alone. One day I received a letter from the US with one of my old pictures where I am with my daughters, and I realized I am not alone. Nowadays no one can withstand information. Everything I am telling now will spread all over the world tomorrow.

I used to think previously that to reach the goal one has to make decisions quickly. But there is a time for everything, and we need patience which I didn’t have. Patience is a trait with which we can feel comfortable in life but everyone walks his own path towards it.

The term “terrorism” is an old one. In the 21st century, this term started to be used in relation to religion. At present, the society hears and discusses this term always and everywhere. Today I am going to be tried for terrorism in a case where there is no single word about explosives and acts of terrorism, only conversations instead. The prosecution doesn’t care that this is absurd. The main thing is to elegantly read out the accusation text prepared in advance.

And since we’re talking about terrorism so much, I would like to say out loud: “No to terrorism!” Stop this lawlessness. Yes we are Muslims, yes we are Crimean Tatars, but we are not terrorists! Your activity – I mean the activity of the secret service of the Russian Federation – is aimed to clamp down on dissent. Say this honestly, don’t pretend!

They put me on trials in military courts of the Russian Federation without saying a word why, while I am an ordinary civil person. I do not care what the verdict will be but I ask to abide the truth and to acquit me.

Ruslan Zeytullaev, prisoner of conscience, citizen of Ukraine, Crimean Tatar, a Muslim sentenced to 15-year imprisonment in the Russian Federation.

After the new sentence was passed, Ruslan declared a termless hunger strike. He demands the Russian authorities allow human rights defenders, journalists, as well as the Ukrainian ombudsman and consul to visit him in jail and then transfer him to Ukraine.

Read more:

Translated by: Kseniya Kozachuk
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