Date: 23 May 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Russian Crackdown on Crimean Tatar Activists Continue

Crimean Tatar activists are being sentenced to long prison terms after being detained, moved to Russia, and tried by military courts in Russia. A court in Russia’s southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don has sentenced four Crimean Tatar activists to prison sentences ranging from 12 to 17 years for organizing and participating in the activities of the Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.


Rustem Murasov, Rustem Tairov, Dzhebbar Bekirov, and Zaur Abdullayev were sentenced for preparing for the seizure of power. Bekirov received a 17-year prison sentence for his work with Hizb ut-Tahrir while the other three received 12 years each on the same charges, according to the Crimean Solidarity group. All four will spend the first four years of their sentences in prison and the remainder in a maximum-security penal colony. All four were detained in August 2021 in Russian-controlled Crimea after their homes were searched. The sentences were announced shortly after the same court sentenced Crimean Tatar activist Ernes Seytosmanov to 18 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir movement. Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned by Russia as a terrorist organization since 2003 but remains legal in many countries across the globe. The true reason behind persecutions is the anti-Russian and pro-Ukrainian stance of Crimean Tatars. Since Russia illegally seized Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars on various, mostly trumped, charges. Crimean Tatar activists are usually detained on terrorism charges only for reading religious literature. More than 300 people are currently serving sentences or are awaiting trial, according to Radio Liberty. Human rights groups worldwide recognize them all as political prisoners. Crimean Tatars believed they are being persecuted solely for public actions against Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. They were vocal critics of the events of 2014. Crimea-based Ukrainian resistance movement can count on the solid support of the Tatar community.

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