Appeal of NGOs with regards to hunger strike of the prisoner of Kremlin Ruslan Zeytullaev
The leading human rights and civic organizations of Ukraine appeal to you regarding the case of Ruslan Zeytullaev, a citizen of Ukraine, a Crimean Tatar and an activist illegally deprived of freedom on political motives by the Russian Federation . As Ruslan is being on a hunger strike for two weeks, we have reasons to believe that his health and life is in danger.
Ruslan Zeytullaev is a defendant within the so-called case of Crimean Muslims ‘Hizb-ut Tahrir’. He was detained in the occupied Crimea in January 2015 together with three other Crimean Tatars - Ferat Sayfullaev, Nuri Primov, and Rustem Vaitov. Ruslan accused of organizing a terrorist organization (p.1, Art.205.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In violation of international humanitarian law, Russia forcibly transferred the four from the Crimea to Rostov-on-Don, where they were convicted by the North Caucasus district military court last year for 5 and 7 years of imprisonment.
Today at least 19 Crimean Muslims are persecuted by the Russian Federation for political reasons within so-called ‘Hizb-ut Tahrir’ case. After the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, criminal prosecution on terrorism charges of the persons neither engaged in nor plan to carry out any acts of violence is used as an additional instrument for pressure on the indigenous population of Crimea, deprived of the freedom of religion.Russia’s Memorial Human Rights Center recognized Ruslan Zeytullaev along with the other defendants of the casepolitical prisoners, as does MFA of Ukraine. Ruslan was also mentioned among others illegally detained persons in the European Parliament resolution “Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea” 2017/2596 (RSP), adopted on 16 March 2017.
According to the decision of Appellate court Ruslan’s case is being reviewed by the North Caucasus district military court of Rostov-na-Donu. Ruslan faces 15 years of imprisonment.
On 4 April 2017, at the court hearings Ruslan declared a hunger strike. He put forward three demands: 1) Crimea’s occupation authorities should stop the persecution of Crimean Tatars, 2) Ukrainian consuls should be allowed access to him, 3) Ruslan and other Crimean Muslims illegally held by Russia should be transferred to Ukraine.
The hunger strike continues for two weeks already. None of his requirements were met. Despite systematic requests of representatives of the Consulate General of Ukraine in Rostov-on-Don regarding visiting of Zeytullaev, Russia denies Ruslan the right to meet with the Ukrainian consul.
According to his lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, as of April 14, Ruslan has lost more than 6 kg of weight. During the trial lawyer even had to call an ambulance for his client. In addition, after Ruslan declared the hunger strike, the attitudes towards him by the Russian Penitentiary Service significantly worsened. The next court setting, during which the debate between the parties will be held, is scheduled for Friday, April 21, 2017.
The case of Ruslan Zeytullaev is virtually unknown outside Ukraine. But even in the country, it has not had sufficient publicity.
We are extremely concerned both by Ruslan’s state of health and the lack of a significant resonance and adequate response to his hunger strike, as well as by the rapidly growing number of the Crimean Tatars imprisoned for political reasons in Crimea and denied the freedom of religion. Therefore, we appeal to the international community and the Ukrainian authorities with a number of requests and hope for your support.
To the European Union and its delegation, the representations of the Western states in the Russian Federation:
To international non-governmental organizations with offices in the Russian Federation:
To the Ukrainian authorities:
For the National Security and Defense Council, to create a Coordination Center for effectively consolidation of the activities of various state and civic actors to support and liberate Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by Russia.
Arkadiy BUSHCHENKO, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Oleksandra MATVIYCHUK, Center for Civil Liberties
Tetyana PECHONCHYK, Human Rights Information Center
Alya SHANDRA, Euromaidan Press
Olga SKRYPNYK, Crimean Human Rights Group
Tamila TASHEVA, PO “CrimeaSOS”
Maria TOMAK, Media Initiative for Human Rights
Lars BUNGER, President Libereco - Partnership for Human Rights
Olena IVANTSIV, Program Manager People In Need
Tolekan ISMAILOVA, Chair-person of Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”