Six of the 23 Crimean Tatars arrested by the Russian special services on 27 March 2019. Collage: Euromaidan Press

Six of the 23 Crimean Tatars arrested by the Russian special services on 27 March 2019. Collage: Euromaidan Press 

Crimea, Political prisoners

Article by: Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko
Edited by: Michael Garrood

On 27 March, in its largest raid yet, Russian special services tore into the homes of several dozen Crimean Tatar families in occupied Crimea.

Sons, husbands, fathers and brothers make up the faces of those arrested at home in the early morning, led away in handcuffs, and taken to the Crimean FSB HQ. According to their lawyers, they were then transported to Rostov-on-Don (Russia).

At least 20 men were arrested and accused of supposed participation in the pan-Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir. The next day, three more Crimean Tatars were arrested in Rostov-on-Don. Edem Yachikov has disappeared. And Tair Ibragimov was arrested near court in Simferopol, where he came to support his friends.

55 children and three more to be born have lost their fathers as a result of the FSB operation.

Officially, all the Crimean Tatars are accused of participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir, which advocates the expansion of Islam but rejects violence. It was criminalized by Russia in 2003 as a “terrorist group” despite none of its members ever having committed terrorist acts; it is legal in most countries, including Ukraine. However, since occupying Crimea, Russia has used this law as a means to persecute Crimean Tatars.

In fact, most of the arrested persons were to a greater or lesser degree members of the Crimean Solidarity association, which offers support to political prisoners and their families. Since Russia annexed the peninsula, FSB officers raid Crimean Tatar houses almost every week. More than fifty people have been arrested. Crimean Solidarity helps with coordination between family and lawyers, attends court sessions and provides reports on the court sessions via Facebook, broadcasts video from court sessions and helps families deliver things to their relatives in prison.

Scroll down for a list of names and life stories of people baselessly accused of being “terrorists” by the Russian regime.

Riza Izetov after interrogation in the “Center E,” Simferopol, 11 May 2017 Photo credit Anton Naumlyuk (RFE/RL)

Riza is a lawyer by education, so was often a public defender in the courts.

His wife is expecting a child. Riza is his mother’s only son. She is suffering from cancer, so Riza drove her every day to the hospital for chemotherapy.

He has twice been arrested by FSB officers and accused of involvement in illegal protests. The police already searched his house in May 2017.

Fahrad Bazarov is a builder from the village of Strohanovka (Simferopol district). He is the father of four children. Fahrad’s mother has a heart ailment and has a pacemaker. On 27 March FSB officers arrested two of her sons – Fahrad Bazarov and Alim Karimov.

Alim Karimov during his wedding one year ago. Photo from family archive.

Alim Karimov. Alim, 23, is an outdoor advertising agent, and is the father of a 3-month-old son. He was up to his arrest a volunteer for Crimean Solidarity and helped to bring parcels to jail for other Crimean Tatars arrested by FSB officers in Crimea.

Tofik Abdulhaziev Photo credit Alina Smutko (RFE/RL)

Tofik Abdulhaziev is the father of three children. His function at the meeting of Crimean Solidarity was very simple -to help with all technology issues such as microphones and video projectors, and babysit all children of Crimean Tatars imprisoned by Russia for political reasons while their mothers took part in meetings.

FSB officers already searched his house in May 2017, and during a “conversation” recommended that he stop all activities.

Bilyal Adilov. Photo credit Alina Smutko (RFE/RL)

Bilyal Adilov is an Islamic religious leader in Crimea and the father of eight children.He was already arrested near the Crimean Supreme Court in Simferopol, later accused of using violence against a member of the authorities and fined.

Izzet Abdullaiev with his daughter. Photo – social media

Izzet Abdullaiev, salesman and consultant for mobile phones, often attended politically motivated court cases. He has a two-year-old daughter and his wife is currently expecting their second child.

Asan Yanikov and Fahrad Bekirov care for their paralyzed friend and his family. They helped him finish home repair, built a fence around his house and took him very often to hospital. For Crimean Solidarity he helped deliver parcels to prison.

Ruslan Suleimanov. Photo: Crimean Solidarity

Ruslan Suleimanov. A physics school teacher, Ruslan Suleimanov was arrested in November 2017 near the house of Marlen Mustafayev, where law enforcement officers carried out a search. He received 5 days’ imprisonment for unauthorized protest. Later in October 2017 he was fined for carrying out a single picket.

He was aware of surveillance before 27 March. When his lawyer Lily Gemeji asked him, why he did not leave the peninsula, he replied “Why? I prepared my elderly parents and when the masked people came I was next to them” Ruslan has four children and very old parents.

Akim Bekirov. Photo: facebook page Crimean Childhood

Akim Bekirov is an IT security consultant. He has a one-year-old daughter and his wife is expecting a second child. As a volunteer for Crimean Solidarity, he has assisted in delivering products to prisoners.

Remzi Bekirov is a historian but worked as a builder. Together with his wife he built his own house and raised three children. With his two-metre (6 foot 6 inch) height, he was some kind of superhero to all the community’s children. His hobby was hiking in the mountains with his family.

As a Crimean Solidarity member he performed live internet streaming from all politically motivated court cases. Journalists covering Crimea said that in private talk he always asked about the profession and dreamt of becoming a journalist. Two weeks ago he received a press card, enabling him to attend all court hearings.

Osman Arifmemetov, a Java developer, created a program on Scratch, a programming language for children aged 8-10. Osman had a plan to teach it to the children of political prisoners. He has a three-year-old daughter Fatima; his son Mustafa is 18 months old.

Vladlen Abdulkadyrov has 3 children; his youngest daughter is just 18 days old. When masked people came to his home to search for forbidden literature, he was on the way to Rostov-on-Don where was to visit political prisoners. FSB officers searched the house in the presence of his wife and children. According to his lawyer, physical force was applied on him during his detention in Rostov.

Photo: Facebook Crimean Childhood

Rustem Seithalilov with his wife and three children on the waterfront at Simferopol. He graduated from the Crimean engineering and pedagogical university. Since Russia annexed the peninsula he has worked as a civil journalist at Crimean Solidarity.

Rustem Sheihaliev is the father of three children. Since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, he has worked as a civil journalist at Crimean Solidarity.

Enver Ametov. Photo: Facebook page Crimean Childhood

Enver Ametov with his children on a big wheel. He usually attends court sessions in politically motivated cases.

Faces of the Crimean Solidarity group who Russia baselessly arrested as “terrorists” ~~

Sofia Kochmar-Tymoshenko is a journalist based in Kyiv. In 2014, Sofia started working as a TV-journalist and fixer for international media. Her professional interest is religious freedom and human rights.

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Edited by: Michael Garrood

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