‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Ukrainian citizen Arsen Ibraimov is a political prisoner

23 February 2024

Arsen Ibraimov was sentenced to 10 years in a strict regime penal colony on charges of involvement in the Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Chelebidzhikhan.

Source; Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’, in accordance with international standards, considers Arsen Ibraimov, a Ukrainian citizen, a political prisoner. Ibraimov was convicted on charges of participation in an illegal armed group for involvement in the Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Chelebidzhikhan and because of his nationality and ethnic origin. Ibraimov’s prosecution and conviction violated his right to fair trial. 

We demand that the criminal conviction of Arsen Ibraimov be quashed and that he be immediately released. 

What were the charges against Arsen Ibraimov? 

Arsen Ibraimov, a construction worker from Kherson, was detained on 6 April 2022 at the border with Crimea, where he was going with his wife and mother to visit relatives.

His detention was officially made public only on 8 April. A criminal investigation was opened against Ibraimov for participation in an illegal armed group (Article 208, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to Ibraimov, after his arrest, law enforcement officers took him to Simferopol and subjected him to torture, demanding he confess that from 2016 to 2022 he worked as a driver in the Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Chelebidzhikhan. 

Ibraimov himself maintains his innocence of the charges and says that he has never been a member of the battalion.

On 25 August 2022, a Russian-controlled court in Simferopol sentenced Ibraimov to 10 years in a strict regime penal colony, with the first year to be served in a cell-type prison. On 6 December 2022, the Crimean Supreme Court upheld the sentence on appeal.

Why do we consider Ibraimov a political prisoner?

The case against Arsen Ibraimov was almost entirely based on the testimony of three witnesses, two of whose identity was kept secret, while the third was a former member of the Noman Chelebidzhikhan battalion who has already testified many times in similar cases against Crimean Tatars. In practice, these cases are fabricated in a conveyor-belt system, with investigators changing only the names of the accused in the testimony.

The trial did not prove Arsen Ibraimov’s participation in the Chelebidzhikhan battalion. Moreover, we believe the fact of participation in this group does not constitute a crime.

The creation of the battalion was announced by businessman Lenur Islyamov in September 2015. At that time, the leaders of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people declared a civil blockade of Crimea and members of the battalion inspected goods on the ‘border’ with Crimea. Over the next two months, the Ukrainian government banned the supply of goods and services from and to Crimea, except for humanitarian provisions. Since January 2016, members of the battalion, or more precisely, Asker, a civil society association founded on its basis, have carried out joint patrols with the Ukrainian Border Service. The battalion has never taken part in actual military operations.

We consider that, despite the fact that the creation of this civil society organisation was not enshrined in law, its activities cannot be considered illegal. Proof of this is the joint patrolling of the border with Ukrainian security forces. At the same time, Russia’s interests are obviously contradicted not by the activities of the battalion, but by the illegal seizure of Ukrainian territories.

A detailed description of the case of Arsen Ibraimov 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 Arsen Ibraimov at the following address:

In Russian: 663180, Красноярский край, г. Енисейск, ул. Декабристов, д. 11, ФКУ Т-2 ГУФСИН России по Красноярскому краю, Ибраимову Арсену Рустемовичу 1988 г. р. 

English translation: Arsen Rustemovich Ibraimov (born 1988), Prison No. 2, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for Krasnoyarsk region, 11 Dekabristov Street, Eniseisk, Krasnoyarsk region, 663180, Russia.

You can also send an electronic letter via the F-Pismo or Zonatelecom services.

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.