Emil Kurbedinov is Crimean lawyer who handles cases of human rights violations in Crimea. He was in charge of the protection of suspects in the "case of Hizb ut-Tahrir", abductions of Crimean activists, accusations of extremism journalist Mykola Semena and deputy chairman of the Mejlis Ilmi Umerov. Kurbedinov told while an interview to QirimInfo about the details of high-profile cases, about the method of secret witness, which may lead to a farce, and how they make Crimea try on a shirt of Dagestan and Chechnya.
What are the specificity of the "case of Hizb ut-Tahrir"? After all, the detainees are accused not just of extremism, there are charges of radicalism, terrorism.
I note that they are accused of involvement in activities of the organization, and in 2003 Russia recognized this organization as terrorist. And the question is not put on trial, if they are terrorists or not, it has been already decided. We are talking about participation in the organization, and they prove this participation very easy – with the help of testimony of witnesses and the examination, which is very doubtful. <...>
All 14 defendants do not recognize their guilt. Even if we assume that some of them are members of the party, it does not give anyone the right to call them terrorists. I did not find any evidence that the Hizb ut-Tahrir had ever committed teract anywhere neither in the case file nor while two years study of the problem. I see that official sources of the party call for struggle by peaceful means. My colleagues conclude that this is an ideological struggle, ideological competitor to Russia, or this is the work of the FSB. That is, the FSB has seen an ideological danger in this organization, and presents it as a terrorist. That is all, there is no evidence. And it is worth to tell about. <...> About the fact that there is no evidence of the terrorist activities of the organization, and there is no evidence of terrorist activities of Crimean Tatars, Crimean Muslims themselves. That would be right. And it is the core of the resolution of 2003 of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, and we should play upon it.
To require the cancellation of the resolution?
Rather review. For example, there is Al-Qaeda in the resolution. I understand that when the explosion occurs, Osama comes out and says: "We did it". Or other organizations which took upon themselves the teracts. With regard to Hizb ut-Tahrir, they were just pushed into the list, along with Chechen human rights organizations... and seeing that there is Islam, begin to drift away. And it is a very big problem.
Work on the negotiations underway?
Yes, the process goes. <...> Yesterday the Consul General of Ukraine has officially requested the Russian authorities to let him visit the Crimean Tatars in the jail in Rostov-on-Don. They did not deny him, but said: "You can visit after the adjudgement".
Judgement as hope for the release? Is the exchange not possible without judgement?
Verdict – pardon – departure to Ukraine. It is one of the variants.
I do not believe in acquittal in Russia. Maybe they will reclassify it as extremism, and there are to 5 years and it may be suspended sentences, but it is also almost unreal. Everything comes to verdict of guilty. But I tell you, everything what concerns charges of Hizb ut-Tahrir case is a stranglehold of the FSB. Here is purely FSB, from the lower police and higher – they conduct the investigation, they carry out operational work, and they transfer the process to a military court.
Are secret witnesses used in this case? What is it?
The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended, what allows to create legends for witnesses. In the normal state it is done in a normal way. Here, they changed the voice, and he speaks after pressing a button – press and speaks like via transmitter. And it is unclear where is the witness and those who are around him. In general, it is unclear whether this person is real.
Shirt of Dagestan and Chechnya
In addition to cases connected with Hizb ut-Tahrir, also you conduct others, related to human rights violations...
Yes. When they take people on the market, take DNA samples, fingerprints, all the non-Russians are brought to combating extremism centers,
They are guided by the principle of delay only representatives of non-Slavic appearance? If the Crimean Tatar looks like a Slav, they are not touched?
No, they are not. But they do it adroitly – they can take two alcoholics, or someone else, that nobody would say national or ethnic factor is involved. Sometimes they “dilute”, but often they are interested in Muslims. The Islamic factor is very aggravated in Crimea, there is a rigid cleansing on this occasion. <...>
Are there parallels between Chechnya, Dagestan?
Of course. Moreover, the head of the Crimean FSB Palagin is sent from Bashkortostan... He was just an expert on the fight against the Islamic factor. Including on Hizb ut-Tahrir. It is no coincidence he has come here, intelligence agencies see it as a priority. Crimean Tatars and Islam are that what they need to put in a box, cleanse as they think. And they work on this closely. Of course, they endeavor to try on a shirt of Dagestan and Chechnya.. While we recorded 1-2 cases of torture, there are more than a dozen abductions... <...>
Do they position themselves as citizens of Ukraine?
Yes, of course. We started complaining about it, and this is also a problem. Judges, FSB investigators simply do not want to put on the section “Citizenship” the fact that they are citizens of Ukraine. One FSB investigator even was in shock: "How? You have Russian passport. What, Ukrainian has not been taken away from you? – No, it has not been. I have both Ukrainian and Russian passports. I am a citizen of Ukraine, no one deprived me of citizenship". The same was with Ilmi Umerov. But investigator did not put on the section Ukrainian citizenship anyway... A citizen of Russia, and that's it.
And what is about the investigation of abductions? Is there some progress on the case of abduction of Erwin Ibragimov?
No movements. I saw volumes on Shaimardanov (missing in Crimea on May 26, 2014 — Ed.), on others who are missing too. It is 15-20 volumes of a case. All requests are sent, where it was possible. Huge work is done, but there are no results, even the suspects are not identified. <...>
You also conduct the case of the journalist Mykola Semena. He is on his own recognizance. Can he be regarded as a political prisoner?
Of course. It is my deep conviction that the political prisoner is not necessarily imprisoned. It can be a person, who is persecuted, against whom a criminal case is opened. First of all, this person is in a restricted state, he can not move freely, secondly, he can be summoned at any time, and thirdly, there is the fact of a criminal case itself. They persecute for views, for thoughts, for the position – so, he is a political prisoner. And it is not necessarily to be in a prison for that.
By your estimation, how seriously are they about Semena?
From my experience, they aim at suspended sentence. They want to “hang him up” — the person will be on probation, and any wrong word, and he has a real sentence. It affects a person very much, he knows that he is on probation. <...>
There are also some serious fines. Half a million, a million. We can not speak about acquittal. Can the system go against itself?