Person of the Week: Crimean Tatar lawyer Edem Semedlyaev

Week-ending 29 October 2021

Edem Semdlyaev, Simferopol, Crimea 2021 © 2021 Crimean Solidarity

On 25 October 2021, the Russian authorities arbitrarily arrested the lawyer Edem Semedlyaev in Simferopol, Crimea. Human Rights Watch reported that Semedlyaev was arrested “while he was advising clients at a police station, who themselves had been arbitrarily arrested.” On 26 October a court released Semedlyaev pending review of the charges. Human Rights Watch comments: “Semedlyaev is one of the few lawyers who continue to risk working on politically sensitive cases in Crimea.” 

Human Rights Watch reported: “Semedlyaev arrived at the police station in Simferopol on Monday afternoon, to provide legal representation for Crimean Tatars detained earlier that day. The Crimean Tatars were detained outside a military court building, where they arrived to observe an appeal hearing in one of the many bogus “terrorism” cases brought against Crimean Tatars since Russia occupied the peninsula in 2014.”


Human Rights in Ukraine, 26 October 2021: Edem Semedlyaev, one of the lawyers tirelessly defending political prisoners and other victims of repression in occupied Crimea, was detained on 25 October and remains in custody on frighteningly lawless charges.  These were brought against him while he was representing Crimean Tatars, including two Crimean Solidarity journalists, who had been unwarrantedly detained, and after he expressed legitimate protest at the violation of one of the detainee’s rights. 22 men, including a lawyer who had sped to their assistance, have now been detained, without any grounds, and are spending the night in police cells in different parts of occupied Crimea.

Human Rights Watch, 26 October 2021: Yesterday, Russian authorities arbitrarily arrested lawyer Edem Semedlyaev, while he was advising clients at a police station, who themselves had been arbitrarily arrested. Today court released Semedlyaev pending review of the charges. Semedlyaev is one of the few lawyers who continue to risk working on politically sensitive cases in Crimea. 

Human Rights in Ukraine, 26 October 2021: The appeal hearing has again been adjourned against monstrous sentences passed on three Crimean Tatar political prisoners, two of whom were almost certainly targeted for their active civic position.  Rustem Emiruseinov (b. 1979); Arsen Abkhairov (b. 1985) and Eskender Abdulganiev (b. 1997) were sentenced to 17, 13 and 12 years, respectively, without being accused of any recognizable crime and with the ‘evidence’ provided by a highly questionable ‘religious expert assessment’ and a ‘secret witness’ who appeared unable to distinguish one defendant from another.  The appeal hearing had been scheduled for 25 October, but was moved to 1 November because Abdulganiev had a high temperature, however one of the men’s lawyers, Edem Semedlyaev and 21 other Crimean Tatars, including two journalists carrying out their professional duties are now also in detention  (details here).

Human Rights in Ukraine, 27 October 2021: ‘Judges’ from a Russian-controlled court in occupied Crimea spent 26 October imposing fairly large fines for entirely fabricated ‘infringements’ by Crimean Tatar civic journalists; the coordinator of Crimean Solidarity and other activists, as well as by lawyer Edem Semedlyaev, who was detained while representing others taken into custody.  All the hearings took place at the Central District Court, with around four acquittals.  It is an indication of the judicial degradation under Russian occupation, that these were the startling part of the day, not the imprisonment of 22 men for 24 hours and fines imposed against men who had simply gathered outside a court, observing all the relevant pandemic-related requirements.

Front Line Defenders, 28 October 2021: On 25 October 2021, the Russian riot police team and representatives of the Centre to Counteract Extremism harassed and detained human rights defender and lawyer Edem Semedliaev while he visited his clients in the Central Police Precinct of Simferopol, who had been detained earlier that day.

See also:

RFE/RL, 29 October 2021: A court in Russia-annexed Crimea has extended the detention of Crimean Tatar leader Nariman Dzhelyal until January 23, his lawyer Mykola Polozova said. Dzhelyal was arrested with four colleagues in early September on suspicion of involvement in an attack on a gas pipeline and initially ordered held for two months.

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