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February 13 – February 19 News Digest

February 19, 2016 12:29 0 2722 QirimInfo
An attempt to ban the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, trial of "February 26" case delayed, pressure on political prisoners and more.

Poklonskaya lodges a lawsuit to ban Mejlis

February 15. Russian Prosecutor General of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya lodged a lawsuit to the “Supreme Court of Crimea” to ban the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. Poklonskaya based her lawsuit on the Law of Russia “On combating extremist activities”.

“Currently we are receiving appeals from Crimean Tatar citizens, including leaders of Crimean Tatar organizations, asking to declare the activities if the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People illegal and provocative and take steps to ban the usage of Crimean Tatar national flag by criminals, who are organizing the blockade and diversions against peoples of Crimea,” said Poklonskaya.


Crimean court sent “February 26” case back for further investigation

February 15. “Supreme Court of Crimea” sent the “February 26” case against Ahtem Chiigoz, Eskender Kantemirov, Eskender Emivaliev, Mustafa Degermendzhi, Ali Asanov and Arsen Yunusov back for further investigation. Not investigators should established the timing of defendants’ participation in the mass unrest, names of the victims and their injuries.

Chiygoz’s lawyer Nikolai Polozov believes that the delay is probably need to allow the investigators to make the false evidence more believable.  He says that everything was initially done in a sloppy fashion since the authorities assumed they would get away with it.  The case has, however, gained publicity and the prosecutors and judges presumably realized that they need to take a bit more care.


Crimean political prisoners pressured

February 16. Russian authorities continue to exert pressure on Crimean political prisoners. On February 16, Oleksandr Popkov, lawyer of Ukrainian activist Genadii Afanasiev, who was illegally sentenced and imprisoned in Russian, reported that his client has a case of sepsis and is not provided with necessary medical treatment. According to Poplov, Afanasiev was sent to a hospital due to his condition, but local doctors “were unable to do anything and sent him back”.

Meanwhile Yevhenii Kostenko, the brother of political prisoner Oleksandr Kostenko, is being forced to undergo a psychiatric examination because of a criminal case filed against him. According to Kostenkos’ lawyer Dmitry Sotnikov, "A new investigator is working on Yevhenii Kostenko’s case. She started persuading Yevhenii to pass a psychiatric examination voluntarily. Yevhenii refused. Then the investigator started threatening that she will demand a forced psychiatric examination in court," wrote Sotnikov, adding that the Russian laws do not provide for a forced procedure of this kind in the case of his client.


European MPs: Crimean authorities are destroying Crimea Tatars’ identity

February 17. European MPS condemned the attempt of Crimean “authorities” to ban the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. Hans van Baalen, European MP and the leader of People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, said that occupational authorities of Crimea are trying to destroy the identity of Crimean Tatars.

A similar opinion was voiced by European MP Petras Austrevicius, who noted that Russian authorities on the peninsula are trying to eradicated all forms of dissident thinking. “Unfortunately, the situation deteriorates in Russia itself. That proves that current EU policy regarding Russia is right. Any aggressor’s repressions will be met with an adequate response from Europe. This is the only way to overcome Putin’s regime,” said Auštrevicius.


European companies allowed to fly over Crimea

February 18. European Aviation Safety Agency announced that European companies are allowed to plan flights near Crimea. A letter saying that Ukraine will provide the coordination of flights was sent to European airlines. Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Andrii Pyvovarskyi said that Ukraine considers this step a victory.

The next day Russia responded that it refuses to give up control over air space near Crimea and believes that the decision of EASA is politically motivated and does not take into account Ukraine’s technical capabilities in the region.


Ukraine calls for international community to condemn Russian aggression

February 18. Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a resolution calling the parliaments of foreign countries and international organizations to condemn the continuing aggression of Russia against Ukraine.  The resolution emphasizes the need to establish an international mechanism for negotiation on de-occupation of the peninsula and the restoration of the sovereignty of Ukraine. These negotiations might be organized in “Geneva Plus” format and might involve institutions of the European Union.


Crimean Tatars are drafted into Russian army en masse

February 18. Russian authorities of Crimea are drafting Crimean Tatars into Russian army en masse. According to a source, who saw the list of people to be drafted, it contains only the names of Crimean Tatars. "That sent a notice from Belogirsk Raion to a Crimean Tatar 35-year-old man, who has 3 kinds, with the youngest being 18 months. He says he saw the list of recruits, all of them have Crimean Tatar surnames," said the source.

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