Crimean Tatar persecution, story of Ilmi Umerov and his lawyers
27 August, 2016

What You Need To Know:

✅ On the 27th of February, 2014, Russian troops invaded the Ukrainian Peninsula of Crimea and began capturing strategic locations in the region
✅ On the 18th of March, 2014, the Russian Federation annexed Crimea, however, this annexation was not recognized by the United Nations General Assembly
✅ On the 19th of March, 2016, Ilmi Umerov, deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, stated on TV that Russia should leave the Crimean Peninsula and Donbass region
✅ Ilmi Umerov has since been facing persecution from Russian authorities

In March of 2016, Ilmi Umerov, deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, stated on television that Russia should pull out of Crimea and the Donbass region. This broadcast attracted the attention of the FSB, Russia’s security service. Two months later, Ilmi Umerov’s house was searched by FSB officials. The FSB then initiated a case against Umerov on charges of separatism.

On July 20th, Umerov unsuccessfully attempted to appeal his criminal prosecution in court. The FSB subsequently demanded the courts to order Umerov to undergo a psychological inspection. On the 11th of August, during a court hearing about assigning a psychological inspection, Umerov fell ill and was taken to a hospital. Within a few days, he was unlawfully transferred to a psychiatric hospital for examination. Umerov’s lawyer declared this an unlawful abuse of authority by the FSB. Within a few days, relatives of Umerov stated that his health had rapidly deteriorated while in the psychiatric hospital.

Umerov’s colleagues are sure that his prosecution is a direct result of his principles and outspoken position. After the annexation of Crimea, Umerov left his position as the deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people because he did not agree with the terms he was put in, and also because of his refusal to swear allegiance to Russia.

The daughter of Umerov believes that publicity is presently the best way to help her father. On August 22nd, more than 500 people gathered in the yard of Umerov for dua, a collective Muslim prayer for health and liberation. It has become a tradition for the FSB to monitor these prayer services. 

Human Rights Watch, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and other international rights groups call for Umerov's release from a psychiatric clinic. The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has called the case against Umerov "illegal and politically motivated."

Update from January 27th 2017:

Reportedly, in Russian-occupied Crimea FSB militia forces are carrying out operation "to eliminate a hot spot of terroristic organisation". Ilmi's daughter describes the situation: Ilmi is yet again visited by FSB with "edited charge" against him" His lawyer Nikolay Polozov forcebly switched his position to a witness in this case, thus leaving him no opportunity to defend Ilmi in court. 

Emil Kurdebinov, another lawyer known for his outstanding support for crimean political priosoners has been detained by Centre E and charged based on suspicious of spreading extremist material. Emil is put under guard for 10 days.