Russia/Ukraine: Crimean Tatar human rights defender’s sentence upheld in mockery of international law

Responding to news that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has rejected the appeal by the imprisoned Crimean Tatar human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Emir-Usein Kuku, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director who attended the court hearing, said:

“The decision to keep Emir-Usein Kuku behind bars demonstrates the Russian state’s disdain for the rule of law and its international human rights obligations, and speaks volumes about its desire to eradicate dissent in annexed Crimea.”

“Emir-Usein Kuku and his co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to lengthy imprisonment on the basis of trumped-up charges and in overt disregard of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the application of an occupying power’s legislation in an occupied territory. They have been accused of membership of an organization prohibited in Russia, but not in Ukraine. What is more, this purported membership has not even been proven, nor have other crimes of which they stand accused.

“Today’s ruling needs to be called what it is, a mockery of international law and justice. We will not be silent and we will continue calling for Emir-Usein Kuku’s immediate and unconditional release. So should the rest of the world.”

Today’s ruling needs to be called what it is, a mockery of international law and justice. We will not be silent and we will continue calling for Emir-Usein Kuku’s immediate and unconditional release
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director

Following the ruling, Emir-Usein Kuku will serve the remaining seven years of his sentence in prison, while his co-defendants will complete prison sentences of between seven to 19 years.

Background

On 26 May, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the sentence of Emir-Usein Kuku and five of his co-defendants, Muslim Aliyev, Vadim Siruk, Enver Bekirov, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzhepparov. In November 2019, they were all found guilty of “organizing the activities of a terrorist organization” and “attempted forcible seizure of power” (Part 2 Article 205.5, Article 30 and Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code). The “terrorist organization” in question is the Islamic movement Hizb-ut Tahrir, which is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.

Emir-Usein Kuku is a human rights defender and prominent member of the local Crimean Tatar community in Crimea. His family, including his young children, have been subjected to pressure and intimidation by the Russian security services. See here for further information.