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“I Will Not Run, Kill Me Here”: Statement by Crimean Tatar Political Prisoner Asan Akhtemov

14 / 09 / 2021

Another political prisoner of the Russian FSB in Crimea, Asan Akhtemov, told a story of the detention and tortures that he underwent since his arrest. Akhtemov was among the other five detainees who were arrested by the Russian occupying forces in Crimea between September 3 and September 4. Russian occupying forces accuse the detainees of blowing up the gas pipeline in Perevalne. Shortly after the detention, the Russian FSB published a video that shows Asan Akhtemov admitting to all charges. However, it appears that the statement on the video has been extracted from Akhtemov under torture. In the statement below, Asan Akhtemov describes threats and tortures with electrocution, which forced him to say everything that FSB officers wanted to hear. 

Earlier, we published a translated version of the letter by Nariman Dzhelial that had been released by his defender, Nikolai Polozov. That letter also confirmed that FSB used force to extract false self-accusatory statements from the detainees.  

This time the statement by Asan Akhtemov was recorded from his words by his defender, Aider Azamatov, on September 13. The original text of this statement was published by Graty.  

“On September 3, 2021, at around 23:30, when I was sleeping at home with my family, [a group of] people broke into our house. There were around 10 of them. They wore military uniforms, masks and had weapons. They came by several vehicles. Those people woke me up and said, “let’s go.” My wife and children woke up. They were screaming with fear. Those people did not show any documents. They just put a plastic mask over my eyes and handcuffed my hands. I did not see anything through the mask. They started escorting me outside. This was accompanied by threats and accusations of an alleged sexual assault against some kind of woman. They put me into the vehicle and took me in an unknown direction. I did not know the make and the model of the vehicle because my eyes were covered. We drove in that vehicle for about 40 minutes. I think we were going in the direction of Simferopol. 

The vehicle stopped. They dragged me out of it, grabbed my hands, and escorted me to some kind of building. We went several floors downstairs, it took more than 5 minutes. I think this was a basement room. I was dragged by one person, and he was followed by around 5 more people. 

They took me into the room and sat me down on the chair facing the back of the chair. They tied my feet to the chair legs with plastic tape, and they tied my arms to the back of the chair. When they escorted me, those people kept threatening me all the time. [They threatened that] they would plant weapons and drugs; they mentioned that my wife is beautiful and hinted that they might do harm to her. 

After they put me on the chair and tied me up, they attached bare wires to my ears, and I felt a strong electric shock. This lasted for about 10 seconds. And repeated about 6-7 times. After this, they sent mild electric currents and simultaneously talked to me. When they sent electricity, I was constantly shaking. After this, I agreed with everything those people said. And they were saying that I blew up the gas pipeline in Perevalne; that my brother, Aziz Akhtemov, told them everything already; that they know everything; that they know how we did it, which car we used and other details. They threatened that I would never leave that place. 

After those threats and tortures with electricity, I said that I would agree with everything they told me. After this, they picked me up, sat me down on a bench, threatened me more. Then I felt a strong hit into the back of my neck, and they dragged me somewhere. Then they took off the mask. There came a person who called himself a doctor but wore a military uniform. This person told me to say everything that happened. I probably did not say what they needed, so they put the mask over my eyes again and hit me into the neck. Then they picked me up, escorted me downstairs again, probably into the basement. They sat me on the chair again and attached wires to my ears. I thought they would electrocute me again, so I got scared for my life and said I would do everything they needed. 

They took the mask off, and I saw a video camera. A person, who called himself a doctor, said that they would turn on the camera and I would have to say everything the right way. Otherwise, nobody would talk to me anymore – this was my last chance. In addition to this one, there were three other people in military uniforms and masks. There also was a woman in a military uniform. I only saw her eyes; she wore a mask. They were in a hurry; they said I had two hours. I said on camera everything they wanted; they put a mask over my eyes again and escorted me out of the basement. At that point, I thought they were escorting me to the execution because those people kept saying they were good at shooting that I would run and they would shoot me. [They said] they would later explain that they shot me when I tried to escape. 

They put me into the car and took me somewhere. I thought they took me to the forest because those people kept saying that they would take me to the forest and kill me there. 

They took me out of the car and said, “Now run and remember that I am good at shooting.” I said, “I will not run, kill me here.” 

After this, they put me into the car and took me somewhere. They brought me to the building of FSB on 13, Franko boulevard in Simferopol. There I was interrogated by investigators; I signed many documents. At that time I felt very unwell, everything hurt, I was out of breath. In the building of FSB, they turned on the camera, and I said everything they needed. Even now, I have attacks when I fall asleep. I feel that I am forgetting how to breathe. For over a week, I cannot defecate.”

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