Lawyer says authorities aim to force Crimean Tatars out of peninsula
It is almost impossible to tell the exact number of Crimean Tatars who have been imprisoned after Russia's occupation of the peninsula. Currently over two dozen people are being held in jail. The Ukrainians who did not recognise Crimea as part of Russia, are now accused of terrorism and extremism.
The first ones to become Russian prisoners were Akhtem Chiygoz, Ali Asanov, and Mustafa Degermendzi. In early 2015, the men were accused of organising mass riots near the building of Crimean parliament during Russia's occupation of the peninsula. At that time, Crimea's capital Simferopol held two rallies: one for remaining in Ukraine, another for becoming Russian territory. The protests claimed lives, however, none of annexation supporters have been detained.
Mark Feygin, lawyer for Crimean political prisoners: "The aim is not to gain their loyalty, but rather force the Crimean Tatars out of the peninula."
The next arrests happened in 2016. The Russian special forces raided houses of Crimean Tatars, detained fifteen people and accused them of terrorism. The authorities claimed they were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic political organization banned in Russia.
The situation is much worse for jailed Crimean Tatars than for other Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, the lawyers say.
Nikolay Polozov, lawyer for Crimean political prisoners: "Consular support does not cover this area. In other hearings, Ukraine's foreign ministry usually provides a lot of assitance. In Crimea we cannot count on that. In addition, Russia has created information void in Crimea, which is also a big problem."
The lawyers for Russia's political prisoners as well as representatives of Crimean Tatar parliament say this issue must be made known around the world. The question of human rights violations in the occupied peninsula is regularly discussed within international organisations in order to free Kremlin's captives.