Week-ending 19 February 2021
On 17 February 2021 at 4am armed Russian security services and National Guard raided the homes of seven Muslim men in Crimea (six of them Crimean Tatars). The men were taken away and the same day six of them were remanded in custody until mid-April on charges of belonging to Hizb-ut Tahrir, a group which, Human Rights Watch states, ‘aims to establish an Islamic caliphate but renounces violence.’ Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned as a terrorist organisation in Russia but operates legally in Ukraine and, until the Russian annexation of Crimea, operated legally in Crimea.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (Arabic: حزب التحرير, lit. ‘Party of Liberation’) is an international pan-Islamist religious organisation whose stated aim is the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate to unite the Muslim community (called ummah) and implement Shariah law. Despite the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir rejects the use of violence, it was banned as terrorist in Russia by decision of the Russian Supreme Court in 2003. Individuals who have been sentenced to terms in prison in Russia solely for membership of the organisation are classified by Memorial Human Rights Centre as political prisoners.
RFE/RL, 17 February 2021: Russian authorities have detained several Crimean Tatar activists after their homes were searched in Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Crimea region. The Crimean Solidarity group told RFE/RL on February 17 that the searches were conducted at the homes of Abdulbori Makhamadaminov, Azamat Eyupov, Timur Yalkabov, Ernest Ibragimov, Oleh Fyodorov, Lenur Seydametov, and Yashar Shikhametov in different towns and cities across Crimea. The official reason for the searches remains unclear. Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said in a statement that all of the men were taken to the FSB’s directorate in Crimea after the searches.
Human Rights Watch19 February 2021: On February 17, Russia’s security services and national guard raided the homes of seven Muslim men in Crimea — six of them Crimean Tatars. At four in the morning, armed men banged on the doors and windows of their homes in Sevastopol, Bakhchisaray, Belogorsk, and Simferopol. They entered without introducing themselves, conducted searches, questioned terrified family, and confiscated religious books. Then they took the men away. The same day, courts ordered six of them be placed in custody until mid-April, one of their lawyers told me. All six are being accused of involvement with Hizb-ut Tahrir, a group which aims to establish an Islamic caliphate but renounces violence. Banned in Russia as a terrorist organization, the group operates legally in Ukraine.