Russia uses its anti-extremist and anti-terrorism legislation in the Crimea to combat dissent, and the international community should reconsider Russia's role in the fight against terrorism. According to the QHA correspondent, the lawyer of Crimean Muslims and political prisoners of the occupied Crimea Emil Kurbedinov made a corresponding statement at a press conference "Application of anti-extremist legislation of the Russian Federation in the Crimea" held on April 26.
Kurbedinov stressed that Russia manipulates and substitutes concepts, calling manifestations of the disagreement of society with the actions of the occupation authorities as "terrorism". The label "terrorist" is given to those who are considered disloyal elements, primarily to the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians, which is done to intimidate society and prevent any resistance to power.
“The legislation of Russia in the sphere of extremism and terrorism has turned into an instrument for combating dissent; when the struggle against evil is turning into evil itself. This problem is observed not only in Russia - it is reflected in the Crimea very much, and we can see it. Accusations of terrorism became an instrument of suppression of public freedoms and persecution of civil activists.”
As one of the latest egregious examples of persecution on false charges of terrorism, Kurbedinov mentioned the detention of a Crimean Tatar civil activist, blogger Nariman Memedinov.
Moreover, the label of "extremist and terrorist" is given to entire organizations, in particular, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people. Russia resorts first to attempts of intimidating or bribing those in whose loyalty it is interested, and when this fails, it resorts to false accusations of extremism. This happened with the Crimean Tatar community and its representative body Mejlis - as first the invaders tried to come to an agreement and draw them to their side, and the lawyer reminded that in 2014 Vladimir Putin phoned Mustafa Dzhemilev. But when it did not work, the Crimean Tatars clearly noted that they remain loyal to Ukraine and Crimea is Ukraine, repression against representatives of the Mejlis began - and now the Mejlis is banned in the Russian Federation as an extremist organization.
“When Russia came to the Crimea, it tried to reach an agreement with the Mejlis, and when this failed, the Mejlis became an "extremist organization" and was banned," Kurbedinov recalls.
According to the lawyer, Russia has created an entire repressive machine to fight the dissenters under the pretext of combating extremism, and uses a variety of options both for proving the non-existent guilt and for pressure on those who are "designated as terrorists" by the authorities.
People are detained in the Crimea under anti-terrorist articles in exactly the same way as the armed terrorists are actually detained - several dozen servicemen from special forces are engaged, windows are broken, furniture is crushed during the searches.
Moreover, in the course of anti-terrorist trials, some experts and secret witnesses are used, who in fact cannot be verified. In addition, the closed courts sessions are held, arguing that this is a trial of extremists. In the course of the entire trial and after the sentencing the defendant is subjected to physical and psychological pressure. During the transfer, people are treated like terrorists, and after the sentencing, when taken to places of detention they are treated like terrorists there.
Kurbedinov considers that Russia uses the antiterrorist legislation in the narrow political interests and for carrying out of reprisals against a civil society both on its own, and on the occupied territory. Therefore, the world community should discuss this issue, draw conclusions and reconsider the role of Russia as an international fighter against terrorism. In particular, it was proposed to hold an expert round table in Kyiv, where it is necessary to begin discussion of these issues.
“Today Russia has absolutely discredited itself in terms of combating extremism and terrorism; it has absolutely discredited this institution. And the international community should thousand times check Russia's statements about some extremists and terrorists, these labels that Russia puts on everyone. I believe that this round table should be held in Kyiv. It would be wonderful if experts from Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, and post-Soviet countries would gather here and simply outline the problems that exist today.”
Coordinator of the public initiative "CrimeaSOS" Tamila Tasheva stressed that anti-extremist and anti-terrorism legislation is used in the occupied Crimea to intimidate people, to tame civil activity at all levels and in all age categories.
First and foremost, Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians are subjected to ethnic persecution. According to Tasheva, one of the most striking examples of pressure on the Mejlis is the ousting of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar people from the Crimea, detentions and trials against the Deputy Heads of the Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov. As an example of repression against Crimean Tatar political and public figures, she also mentioned the ban on the entry to Crimea for the Adviser to the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Ismet Yüksel and his wife Gayana Yüksel, who is the director of the news agency QHA ("Crimean News") and Radio Hayat.
Ordinary Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars also experience ethnic oppression on the territory of Crimea – the invaders are trying to marginalize them in the eyes of neighbors, colleagues, students.
Tamila Tasheva told about the incident when a teacher approached a Muslim girl in one of the Simferopol schools and asked in the presence of the students: "What's in your schoolbag? Do you have a bomb there? ". The confused child almost burst into tears.
“First, a myth is created that there are extremists and terrorists on the territory of Crimea, which must be tackled, then a network of people is created to deal with these terrorists; and in the end searches and arrests are carried out on the pretext of fighting terrorists. And, everything happens in a very rough form - with breaking windows, smashing furniture, etc.”
CrimeaSOS Coordinator further notes that another problem is that Russia submits the lists of pseudo-terrorists to the Interpol database, and people are under threat of arrest and extradition to RF on unfounded charges.
“Russia is actively using Interpol in order to fight the so-called extremists and terrorists. This is a very dangerous trend, which we must explain to our foreign partners.
First Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova noted the negative role of Russian media in the Crimea, which are an important element of the propaganda machine for intimidating society and suppressing dissent.
“The propaganda media are trying to convince people that the Ukrainian saboteurs and spies are actually in the Crimea, and only Russia can solve the problem of fighting terrorism, including in the world. To be recognized as a terrorist (in the occupied peninsula or on the territory of the aggressor state) one sometimes needs only be a citizen of Ukraine, an ethnic Ukrainian, or a Crimean Tatar.”
According to Dzhaparova, the occupation authorities on the peninsula provoke interethnic strife, pit people against each other. In particular, Ukraine and Ukrainians are presented as extremists and punishers who threaten other inhabitants of the peninsula. This is a very dangerous trend, the ministry believes.
QHA reported that lawyer Emil Kurbedinov connects the outbreak of searches in the occupied Crimea with the growth of international attention to the situation on the peninsula.
Earlier, on April 26, in the occupied Crimea in Bilohirsk, special forces conducted searches in the house of the director of LLC "KrymOpt" Crimean Tatar Ali Bariev and in the network of shops "Guzel". It also became known that the invaders searched not only the house of the director of the company, but the homes of the "KrymOpt" employees as well.
The Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov said that businessmen Resul Velilyaev and Ali Bariev detained by the Russian invaders in Bilohirsk, were taken away from the Crimea.
Resul Velilyaev had been interrogated by law enforcement officers for more than three hours.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called searches in Crimea discrimination of the Crimean Tatars. The statement of the Speaker of the ministry Mariana Betsa said that official Kyiv will transfer the evidence of the crimes committed by the Russian Federation to the international courts.
According to the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov, searches in the occupied Crimea in Bilohirsk were conducted by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).