Crimea: Lawyer detained in latest campaign of harassment of human rights defenders

Responding to the news that Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was detained by the de-facto authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea and is now facing charges for a Facebook post he made five years ago, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

“Following yesterday’s arrest of prominent human rights defender Lev Ponomarev in Moscow, the detention of Emil Kurbedinov is the second time in two days that a human rights defender has been thrown behind bars over a Facebook post.

“The similarities of these two cases are obvious, even if they are not directly related. Both men are prominent members of the human rights community and both have been deliberately targeted by Russian authorities for this very reason.

“The authorities’ abuse of social media to target and harass activists is a cause of growing concern in Crimea. These politically-motivated charges must be dropped and he should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

It is the second time in two days that a human rights defender has been thrown behind bars over a Facebook post
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Background

Emil Kurbedinov, a lawyer for a number of Crimean Tatar activists prosecuted by the Russian authorities, was detained on 6 December by Russian Interior Ministry officers on his way from home to his office in the Crimean capital Simferopol.

He faces charges under the Russian law forbidding “propaganda or public demonstration of Nazi or other extremist attributes or symbols”, on account of his 2013 Facebook post on a Hizb ut-Tahrir event in Simferopol published a year before Russia occupied the peninsula. A number of groups and organizations which legally exist in Ukraine, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, are banned in Russia.

On 5 December, a court in Moscow sentenced 77-year-old human rights activist Lev Ponomarev to 25 days in administrative detention for a Facebook post.