: Russia resurrects Soviet repression, punitive psychiatry in occupied Crimea

16:26 Aug. 22, 2016

Russia resurrects Soviet repression, punitive psychiatry in occupied Crimea

Crimean Tatars, one holding tatar flag, attend a rally inside ATR TV station in Simferopol, Crimea (AP photo)

Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis was on August 18 forcibly taken from the cardiac unit to a psychiatric hospital

Exactly 25 years since the coup which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has returned to the punitive psychiatry, politically motivated trials of dissidents, rights violations and virulent propaganda of Soviet times.  Nowhere is this seen more dramatically than in Ukrainian Crimea, invaded and annexed in early 2014, Halya Coynash writes in her article for the information website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis [representative assembly] was on August 18 forcibly taken from the cardiac unit where he was under observation to Psychiatric Hospital No. 1 in Simferopol. He is to be held there against his will for 28 days. His medication was taken away from him and initially even his lawyer was not allowed to see him, though visits have now been allowed.

There are literally no grounds for the court order forcing the assessment since Umerov is facing prosecution for saying what all democratic countries have stated repeatedly since Russia invaded Crimea in February 2014, and then continued its military aggression in eastern Ukraine.

Russia must be forced to leave Crimea and Donbas.

It is for saying this in a TV interview that Umerov has been charged with ‘public calls to action aimed at violating Russian territorial integrity', which could result in a 5-year prison sentence. It is correspondingly for those words that the 59-year-old Umerov, who is in ill health, is being forced to undergo ‘tests' while effectively imprisoned in a psychiatric clinic.

The ‘trial' is continuing of Crimean Tatar Mejlis [representative assembly] Deputy Head Akhtem Chiygoz, as well as of five other Crimean Tatars.

All are charged in connection with a pre-annexation demonstration on Feb 26, 2014, over which Russia can have no jurisdiction.  The prosecution is, in fact, in violation of Russia's own criminal code, yet Chiygoz, Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy have been in custody for well over a year and face long prison sentences. 

There are no real charges.  Even if the prosecution were legally possible, Chiygoz is accused of ‘organizing mass riots', although all video evidence shows him and other Mejlis leaders working throughout the demonstration to calm protesters.  The others are accused of ‘involvement', with no clear indication of what this is supposed to mean.

The FSB invited ‘witnesses' to come forward even if they had no proof of injuries, and thus assembled a number of pro-Russian demonstrators who can still not testify to anything, but that they allegedly got a bruise or two. In declaring Chiygoz, Asanov and Degermendzhy political prisoners, the Memorial Human Rights Centre pointed to all the above, and stated that the testimony of most of these alleged ‘witnesses' was more than suspect.

Since then, the occupation regime has split the trials, without any justification, and is preventing the defendants from attending their own ‘trials' in person. 

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