23 November 2020
Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre
Rais Mavliutov has been charged with organising and participating in a terrorist organisation, as well as financing such an organisation and the public justification of terrorism. There is no evidence of the justification or incitement of violence and investigators have most likely put pressure on the witnesses.
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Rais Mavliutov a political prisoner. We believe he is being prosecuted for political reasons for the non-violent exercise of freedom of conscience, religion and expression and the right of association. Memorial calls for the immediate release of Mavliutov.
Who is Rais Mavliutov?
Rais Mavliutov, a 31-year-old native of Kazan, was detained on 23 September 2019 in Tolyatti along with three other local Muslims – Radik Khairudinov, Elmar Mamedov and Aleksei Botva.
Mavliutov was then taken to Kazan where he was remanded in custody. He is currently being held in Pre-trial Detention Centre No. 1 in Ekaterinburg. Mavliutov has been charged with organising the activity of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Criminal Code) participating in the activity of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 2, of the Criminal Code), financing a terrorist organisation (Article 205.1, Part 1, of the Criminal Code) and the public justification of terrorism using the Internet (Article 205.2, Part 2, of the Criminal Code). He faces life imprisonment.
Why does Memorial consider Mavliutov a political prisoner?
Memorial has studied the charges against Rais Mavliutov and has concluded that his prosecution is politically motivated and, therefore, the charges against him should be dropped and he should be released from custody.
We believe that the charges against Mavliutov of organising and participating in the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, which is banned in Russia, as well as the charges of financing terrorism, are based on the evidence of witnesses who testified that what took place were ordinary activities that did not violate the law (meetings of believers, discussions of religion and politics, joint reading of literature). However, there are serious doubts about the independence of witnesses for the investigation: two are in custody, and the identity of another is classified. Mavliutov has not been charged with preparing terrorist attacks, making threats of terrorism or inciting violence. In fact, he is accused only of participating in meetings of Muslims at which Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami party literature was read and discussed.
We believe that the charges against Mavliutov of the public justification of terrorism using the Internet are also unlawful. The publications on social networks imputed to him contain no justification of terrorism. They state that prosecutions of Muslims on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir are unlawful, along with the very designation of the organisation as terrorist. In his publications, Mavliutov compared Hizb ut-Tahrir with IGIL, whose activities are banned in Russia, and concludes that Hizb ut-Tahrir has nothing to do with IGIL, since their ideologies are quite different.
We consider the 2003 designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation is groundless and unlawful. The Supreme Court decision, which at a single stroke banned a large number of Islamic organisations, devoted one paragraph of three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir. These sentences contain no evidence of terrorist activities. Despite this, charges of involvement in any of the organisation’s activities automatically result in long prison sentences.
It is the designation of the organisation as ‘terrorist’ that allows any of its activities – meetings, tea-drinking sessions, discussions, and so on – to be classed as ‘terrorist.’ According to available information, at least 309 people are currently being prosecuted for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
We point out that Article 28 of the Russian Constitution protects these actions of believers. It guarantees everyone ‘freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, including the right, individually or in community with others, to profess any religion or not to profess any religion, to freely choose, have and disseminate religious and other beliefs and to act in accordance with them.’
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or as a victim of politically motivated prosecution does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
More information about this case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre is available on our website.
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Translated by Simon Cosgrove