Jan 20, 2016

Crimean Tatars: Renowned Journalist and Blogger Arrested

‘Center for Countering Extremism’ officials arrested Crimean Tatar journalist and blogger Mr Zair Akadyrov on 15 January 2016, while he was waiting to attend Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chyigoz’s trial. Akadyrov was detained in connection to demonstrations that took place in February 2014, prior to the illegal annexation of Crimea, for which Mr Chyigoz and other community members are already facing legal charges. 


Below is an article by KHPG


Zair Akadyrov, a well-known Crimean Tatar journalist and blogger, was detained on Friday [15 January 2016] morning by officials from the so-called ‘Centre for Countering Extremism’.  The journalist was standing awaiting the beginning of the court hearing in the trial of Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz and other Crimean Tatars who are facing legally grotesque charges over a pre-annexation demonstration.

Emil Kurbedinov, one of the lawyers present, reports that the young journalist showed his documents, but the officials still tried to push him into a car and take him to the ‘anti-extremism centre’.  According to Krym SOS, Akadyrov refused to go with the official - Artur Shambazov, a former Ukrainian Security Service officer who was involved in the case of political prisoner Oleksandr Kostenko.  At this point two OMON riot police officers tried to push him into the car.  He managed to get out, and since by that stage a number of witnesses had appeared, Shambazov instead insisted that the journalist come with him to the police station opposite the Supreme Court where the trial is taking place.  Akadyrov tried to refuse, since no reason had been given for his detention, but was forced into the police station by around 10 officers.

He was released around an hour later and told the Radio Svoboda Crimean Service that they had asked him all kinds of questions about what he does, what he writes and why.  He explained that the officials had tried to take him by force from the actual courtroom, and threatened him.

“I was detained in the court building, they tried to claim that I had unlawfully taken photos, made notes on my telephone and asked me to come to the counter-extremism centre.  I objected to the detention.  They tried to grab my passport but I wouldn’t hand it over.  After this the police captain called ‘Berkut’ officers who seized me and took me to the car.  They warned me not to resist or they’d put handcuffs on and take me to the cellar”.

There was a preliminary hearing on 28 December 2105, and the court on 15 January 2016 is due to hearing the indictment against Akhtem Chiygoz, Mustafa Degermendzhy and Ali Asanov (as well, probably as Eskender Kantemirov; Eskender Emervaliyev and Arsen Yunusov who are not in detention.).

The trial is one of exceptionally cynical lawlessness.

The entire case is illegal under Russia’s own legislation, since the charges are under Russia’s anti-protest laws, yet pertain to a pre-annexation demonstration over which Russia has no jurisdiction;

Only Crimean Tatars are targeted although there were also pro-Russian demonstrators present on 26 February 2014.

There is no evidence against any of the three men who remain in custody yet court after court has extended their detention.

Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, is accused of having organized “mass disturbances” outside the Crimean Parliament on Feb 26, during which two people died, the other men of having taken part in these supposed mass disturbances.

There are strong grounds for concluding that the two men also in detention - Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy – have been put under enormous pressure to testify against Chiygoz, and may be still held in custody as punishment for refusing.

Photo courtesy of Ukranian Daily