Crimea, Political prisoners

Ukrainian hostage of the Kremlin and political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev announced a hunger strike on 27 July. This day, he was unlawfully sentenced to 15 years in Russian prison. This time, the court increased his jail time from 12 years to 15. He is one of at least 45 Ukrainian hostages of the Kremlin, unlawfully imprisoned by Russia on political motives.

He demands justice not only for himself but also for nearly 20 Crimean Tatar political prisoners. They were jailed in order to intimidate the whole Crimean Tatar people, which did not want to bow to the occupiers.

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.”

“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!” Ruslan Zeytullaev said in his powerful last word.

How long will the Kremlin ignore the voice of the world community?

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