Crimea: More than 70 Crimean Tatar activists put on trial simultaneously in brazen crackdown

Reacting to the simultaneous trials today of more than 70 Crimean Tatar activists charged after they each staged peaceful, individual demonstrations across multiple locations in the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula, Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Executive Director, said:

“The occupying Russian authorities push ever further the limits of their remorseless reprisals against the Crimean Tatar minority, this time by pursuing scores of peaceful Crimean Tatar activists en masse.

“So-called ‘single person picketing’ does not require prior authorization by the authorities and so this protest – though carefully choreographed across many locations - was entirely legal. The Russian authorities are simply sweeping up anyone who participated in order to punish them for daring to speak out.

“The persecution of Crimean Tatars is not new. Russian authorities have already forcibly exiled or jailed Crimean Tatar leaders, banned their representative body, Mejlis, and stifled the Crimean Tatar-language media. With this latest move they are aiming to shut down individuals’ expressions of dissent and deprive them of the right to voice their dissatisfaction.”

Background

The trials will take place today in courts all over the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula, including in the region’s capital Simferopol, and the cities of Alushta, Belogorsk, Dzhankoy, Sudak, and Kirovsky, Krasnogvardeysky and Sovetsky districts.

All activists are charged with “violation of the procedure for organizing or holding gatherings” for participating in single-person picketing that took place on 14 October. On that day, dozens of Crimean Tatars activists took to the streets to demand respect for their human rights and denounce Russian reprisals against their community. Police officers have regarded these single-person pickets as a “mass unauthorized protest”.

Those already convicted were fined 10.000 rubles ($170), a huge amount in the region where the average monthly wage is 24.000 rubles ($410).