‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Appaz Kurtamet, a Ukrainian citizen, is a political prisoner

18 January 2024

Appaz Kurtamet, a 19-year-old Crimean Tatar, was sentenced to seven years in a strict regime penal colony for lending 500 hryvnias to his friend who is fighting for Ukraine

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Appaz Kurtamet a political prisoner. Kurtamet was convicted of financing an illegal armed group for transferring money to a friend fighting for Ukraine in the Crimean Tatar Volunteer Battalion. Kurtamet’s prosecution violated his right to fair trial and is probably related to his nationality and ethnic origin.

We demand the release of Appaz Kurtamet and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

Who is Appaz Kurtamet and what were the charges against him?

Appaz Kurtamet is a resident of the village of Novoalekseevka in the Kherson region of Ukraine and son of the head of the local Muslim community.

In the summer of 2022, Kurtamet decided to visit his relatives in Crimea. On 23 July he arrived at the checkpoint between Kherson region and Crimea, after which all contact with him was lost. His relatives were not able to discover where he was for several months.

It was only on 5 October 2022 that Kurtamet called home and said he was being held in a remand prison in Crimea and needed a lawyer.

On 10 October, a court in Simferopol remanded him in custody on charges of financing an illegal armed group (Article 208, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). Appaz Kurtamet had transferred 500 hryvnias to a friend, an act which the investigative authorities and the court interpreted as financing the ‘Crimea’ Crimean Tatar Volunteer Battalion, of which his friend is a member.

On 20 April 2023, a court in Simferopol sentenced Appaz Kurtamet to seven years in a strict regime penal colony. On 29 August, the Supreme Court of Crimea upheld the decision on appeal.

Why do we consider Kurtamet a political prisoner?

Firstly, we believe the trial failed to prove that Kurtamet financed the Crimea Battalion. He only lent a small amount of money to his friend, who later returned the debt. This is confirmed by Kurtamet’s correspondence and bank documents.

Secondly, the Ukrainian Crimea Battalion is not and cannot be ‘an armed group not provided for by federal law.’ The legal status of a Ukrainian unit participating in repelling external aggression on the territory of Ukraine is an internal matter of that State. Citizens of Ukraine, like citizens of other countries, have every right to support the Ukrainian armed forces by any legal means.

The case of Appaz Kurtamet needs to be considered in the context of the persecution of other residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine, in particular Crimean Tatars, on account of their alleged ‘disloyalty to the Russian authorities.’ We do not know exactly how many civilians have been abducted on the occupied territories of Ukraine, but the count is in the thousands.

A detailed description of the case of Appaz Kurtamet and the position of the Human Rights Project are available on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ agrees with, or approves, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can write to Appaz Kurtamet at the following address:

In Russian: 600020, Владимирская область, г. Владимир, ул. Большая Нижегородская, д. 67, ФКУ Т-2, Куртамету Аппазу Халиловичу, 2002 г. р.

English translation: Appaz Khalilovich Kurtamet (born 2002), Prison No. 2, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Vladimir region, 67 Bolshaya Nizhegorodskaya Street, Vladimir, Vladimir region, 600020, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the Zonatelecom service.

Please note that letters in languages other than Russian are highly unlikely to reach the recipient.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via our website. 

Translated by Rights in Russia

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