Memorial Human Rights Centre: Georgy Guev, sentenced to six years in a penal colony on charges of financing terrorism, is a political prisoner

28 June 2021

The Investigative Committee believes the banned Islamic State received a charitable donation of 7,000 roubles 

Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre


Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Georgy Guev a political prisoner. We believe he has been deprived of liberty for the non-violent exercise of freedom of religion and he was convicted in violation of the right to a fair trial. Memorial calls for an immediate review of Guev’s prosecution.

  • Who is Georgy Guev and what were the charges against him?

Georgy Guev is a Muslim from North Ossetia who lived and worked in Moscow. He graduated from the Plekhanov University of Economics and then worked first for the major auditing company KPMG and later for the construction company Promstroi.

On 16 May 2019 Guev was arrested in Moscow on charges of financing terrorism (Article 205.1, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to the Investigative Committee, from 2015 to 2019 Guev collected money on his bank card for militants of the Islamic State, an organisation banned in Russia, as well as for Israil Akhmednabiev (known as Abu Umar Sasitlinsky), a well-known Dagestani preacher and founder of the Islamic Mukhadzhirun fund who is wanted as a suspect in a terrorism case.

Initially, the investigation claimed Guev transferred at least 50 million roubles for these purposes, but in the indictment only the sum of 7,201 roubles was included.

Georgy Guev denies the charges, stating he only made a few donations to the Live Heart charitable fund which works to alleviate the lack of drinking water in African countries.

In November 2020 the Second Western District Military Court sentenced Guev to six years in a general regime colony.

  • Why does Memorial consider Guev a political prisoner?

We believe Guev’s trial did not prove his guilt:

  • The court considered the allegations that Guev adhered to ‘aggressive forms of Islam’ untenable, yet the verdict still states that he deliberately financed Islamic terrorists, although it does not specify for what purpose;
  • Guev transferred 7,000 roubles to the account of the Mukhadzhirun charitable fund, whose advertisements said they were collecting donations for the construction of wells in African countries;
  • Anna Papushina, the fund’s accountant, claimed part of the money donated was going to Islamic State fighters. According to her, ‘information about the financing of jihad’ was posted in the fund’s chat rooms of which Guev was allegedly a member. However, Guev denies he was a member of these chat rooms and the investigators did not prove otherwise. Moreover, independent analysis established that the information posted on the fund’s webpage concerned only education and charitable work and said nothing about the financing of terrorism;
  • Papushina herself has three previous convictions and is charged with organising the financing of terrorism (Article 205.1, Part 4, of the Russian Criminal Code). Despite the fact that she has been charged with more severe crimes, unlike Guev she is not held on remand but is under house arrest. We believe the milder form of pre-trial restriction indicates Papushina agreed to give testimony needed by the investigation. At the same time, the court refused to consider whether she had reached a plea bargain with the investigation and refused to allow lawyers for the defence to do so;
  • In 2016 Guev had already transferred a further sum of 200 roubles to another bank card, which, according to investigators, was used to transfer money to the militants of Islamic State. Elnara Sultanmuradova, who collected on money on a card registered in the name of a female relative, was sentenced to eight years in a general-regime penal colony for facilitating the financing of terrorism. In other words, the second episode of the indictment is based solely on the fact that Sultanmuradova was convicted under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on financing terrorism. In this case, Guev himself stated that he only responded to a call to help a needy person. Sultanmuradova did not admit her guilt and said she did not know Guev. 

For more than 15 years Memorial has monitored pressure by law enforcement agencies on Muslims in Russia and the fabrication of criminal cases for extremist and/or terrorist offences. Government propaganda uses and aggravates domestic Islamophobia, uniting Islam and terrorism in the minds of ordinary people.

Civilian oversight of such prosecutions is minimal and the security services inflate the statistics of their ‘successes’ to prove their own usefulness, manipulating public perceptions of the terrorist threat and substituting the appearance of a struggle against terrorism for the real thing.

The schema used for the serial ‘solution’ of crimes of financing terrorism has now been maximally simplified. At the same time, it is precisely the supposed need to combat terrorism that, in recent years, has been used to justify the adoption of laws restricting civil and constitutional rights.

In this way, creating the appearance of combating terrorism is used to consolidate the power of those in positions of authority.

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 the case of Georgy Guev and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre is available on our website.

How to help?

You can support all political prisoners by donating to the Fund to Support Political Prisoners of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners via PayPal, using the e-wallet at [email protected].

Translated by Simon Cosgrove

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