Statement of human rights organisations regarding the unlawful detention by Russian security forces of free listeners and Crimean journalists

Yesterday, July 27, 2023, Russian security forces detained 14 free listeners and journalists (including three women) outside the building of the illegal “Supreme Court of Crimea,” who came to support politically persecuted Nariman Dzhelyal and brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov, during their appeal hearing. As a result of the detention, five individuals, including human rights activist and “Graty” journalist Lutfiye Zudiyeva, and “Crimean Solidarity” correspondent Kulamet Ibraimov, were arrested. Previously, on July 19, the “court” declared that the hearings in this criminal case would be open to the public.

According to “Graty”, during Lutfie Zudiieva’s detention, she displayed her press card to the “police” officers and stated that she was performing her editorial assignment. However, the officers ignored this fact.

While at the Railway Police Department in Simferopol, the police used threats to compel Lutfiye Zudiyeva to provide fingerprint impressions and saliva samples, which she refused. As a result, an administrative protocol was drawn up against her for “participating in the mass simultaneous presence of citizens in a public place near the Supreme Court of Crimea… for further media coverage.” This confirms that the police were aware of her journalist status.

The “judge” Halyna Tsiganova of the Russian-controlled Crimea Court imposed a fine of 12,000 Russian rubles on Lutfiye Zudiyeva. Kulamet Ibraimov was arrested for five days based on the protocol of a repeated “offence” under Article 20.2.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation.

Among the other individuals arrested on July 27 were the mother of political prisoner Aziz Akhtemov, Zarema Akhtemova, Nariman Dzhelyal’s brother, Ruslan Dzhelyalov, and veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement, Rustem Useinov. They were also fined 12,000 to 15,000 rubles based on the protocol, similar to the case of journalist Lutfiye Zudiyeva, under Article 20.2.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (“Organization of the mass simultaneous presence and/or movement of citizens in public places, not considered a public event”).

The unjustifiable confinement of journalists Lutfiye Zudiyeva and Kulamet Ibraimov, along with 12 other free listeners at the “court hearings” in the case of Nariman Dzhelyal and the Akhtemov brothers, and the imposition of administrative fines and arrests, demonstrate a real threat to the freedom of journalists, activists, and ordinary people in temporarily occupied Crimea.

In view of the foregoing, we, representatives of Ukrainian human rights organisations, condemn the criminal actions of Russian authorities and call upon:

The international community, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society of the Council of Europe, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the PACE General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, representatives of the EU, the European External Action Service, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, within their respective mandates and authorities:

  • To demand that the Russian Federation cease politically motivated persecutions of Crimean journalists and activists in administrative proceedings and urgently release the journalist Kulamet Ibraimov, who was unjustly arrested; 
  • To call upon Russia to immediately release all political prisoners and civilian hostages held in places of deprivation of liberty on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as other occupied territories of Ukraine or the territory of the Russian Federation; 
  • To impose personal sanctions against individuals involved in the unlawful imprisonment of Ukrainian citizens in occupied Crimea; 
  • To provide comprehensive assistance to the Ukrainian government in investigating international crimes and gross human rights violations in Crimea and other occupied territories.

We call upon the competent authorities of the Ukrainian state to:

  • Ensure effective investigation of cases of unlawful deprivation of liberty and other gross violations of fundamental human rights committed by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian citizens who have fallen under Russian control; 
  • Hold accountable those responsible for the unlawful detention of Ukrainian citizens; 
  • Engage in international consultations to seek mechanisms for the release of unlawfully imprisoned individuals and monitoring their health status on the territory of the Russian Federation; 
  • Strengthen diplomatic, sanctions, and other forms of pressure on Russia to prevent new political persecutions and other gross human rights violations against Ukrainian citizens residing in the territory of the Russian Federation and the occupied territories; 
  • Make full use of the capabilities of the International Crimea Platform, the mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and other international organisations to put an end to political persecutions, suppression of freedom of speech, and expression of views in Crimea, accelerate the release of Crimean political prisoners and civilian hostages in occupied territories, and respond effectively to human rights violations in occupied Crimea, as well as support the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine.

We call upon the governments of foreign states and international organisations, including participants of the International Crimea Platform, 

  • To further increase comprehensive support to Ukraine, including military assistance, for the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as a necessary condition for the protection of human rights and cessation of politically motivated prosecutions against Ukrainian citizens. 

Human Rights House Crimea
Crimean Human Rights Group
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union 
Human Rights Centre ZMINA
Human Rights Centre Diya
Crimean Process 
Regional Center for Human Rights
Center for Civic Education “Almenda”
Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv
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