Russia Started A Campaign Against Lawyers Of Crimean Tatars
29 January, 2017

During the last two weeks, Russian military forces have started a public campaign, persecuting lawyers in occupied Crimea. Those who represent “problematic” cases - of political prisoners, journalists, pro-Ukrainian activists and Mejlis members - are at risk. Some of them have met with the FSB. Emil Kurbedinov is one a few lawyers who remain firm in his defense of the increasing number of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians held prisoner on fabricated and absurd charges under Russian occupation. 

How Elmir Met “Countering Extremism Center” Members

While the Russian FSB were searching the apartment of Bakhchysarai resident Seiran Saliev, Emil Kurbedinov and his colleague went to help him. But they were stopped by the CPD, and armed military forces wearing masks, who had been waiting for them there. They introduced themselves as workers of the “Countering Extremism Center” and took Emil to Simferopol, the administrative center of Crimea. The FSB searched Emil’s apartment in his absence.

Emil Kurbedinov was charged with article 20.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code of the Russian Federation, “Propaganda of public demonstration of Nazi attributes of symbols, or attributes or symbols of extremists organizations…” The lawyer was found guilty of publishing a video from a “Hisb ut-Tahrir” meeting on social media in 2013. He was punished with a 10-day arrest term.


Emil Kurbedinov is waiting for a lawyer behind the door in the “Countering Extremism Center”. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk

The lawyer pleaded partially guilty.

“I plead partially. I truly admit that such a post could have been published by me on social media. But it had nothing to do with propaganda. If workers of the “Countering Extremism Center” had warned me that it was breaking the law, I would have deleted it,” said Emil.


Emil Kurbedinov in the court, Sevastopol. Photo: Edem Semedliaev

Russian "Retrospective Justice"

Nikolay Polozov, a lawyer for many Mejlis cases, had also been detained earlier and then released. He says that we should expect a new wave of repressions.

“My […] kidnapping by the FSB and an attempt of interrogation, […] searching in Emil Kurbedinov’s flat - all of that means that a new wave of repressions is imminent. Russian authorities set a goal to get rid of lawyers, who defend people in such criminal cases. I keep the option open that a criminal case can be built against Emil Kurbedinov,” he said.

Human rights activists call the situation with the lawyers in Crimea “retrospective justice” - when Russia judges non-Russians of actions, which occurred on non-Russian territory.