Russian security forces have searched the homes of ethnic Crimean Tatars in the occupied Crimean city of Bakhchisaray and arrested fourteen people, according to Tatar activists.
The individuals were detained on the morning of October 11 and stand accused of involvement in a banned Islamic organization, Eskender Bariev, a member of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis assembly wrote on Facebook.
At least several of the detained individuals are activists and some have had previous run-ins with Russian law enforcement. For example, the security forces searched activist Seyran Saliev’s home this morning for the third time.
Crimean human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov — who himself was arrested and detained for 10 days earlier this year — says he that went to the home of Suleiman Asanov, one of the arrested men, but was not allowed inside.
“It’s like a mafia boss is being searched here! [There are] drones flying over, a bunch of people in masks and internal military forces. The internet only works from time to time,” Kurbedinov wrote on Facebook.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Crimea has accused the detained Crimean Tatars of being members of “Hizb ut-Tahrir,” an Islamic political organization that describes its mission as uniting all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate.
However, the organization rejects the usage of terrorism to achieve its goals. The Russian Supreme Court banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2003. Moscow expanded the ban to Crimean territory after illegally annexing the peninsula in 2014.