‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Crimean resident Marlen Mustafaev, convicted of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, is a political prisoner

22 December 2022

Marlen Mustafaev has been sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Crimean Tatar Marlen Mustafaev a political prisoner. He has been criminally prosecuted for alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, a political party banned in Russia. Mustafaev’s prosecution is in gross violation of his rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association.

We demand the immediate release of Marlen Mustafaev and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

What are the criminal charges against  Mustafaev?

On 9 February 2022 law enforcement officers conducted a series of searches of the homes of Muslims in Crimea. On that day four Crimean Tatars were detained: Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Ernest Seitosmanov and Marlen Mustafaev. All were subsequently remanded in custody on terrorism charges.

Mustafaev was accused of organising the activities of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) and preparation of a violent seizure of power (Article 30, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to the Investigative Committee, Mustafaev held meetings of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party. In addition, the investigators alleged that Mustafaev performed actions for the purposes of preparing a violent seizure of power together with suspects involved in the Belogorsk Hizb ut-Tahrir prosecution: Azamat Eiupov, Riza Omerov, Enver Omerov and Aider Dzhepparov. The Omerovs and Dzhepparov were sentenced in January 2021 to terms ranging from 13 to 18 years in a strict regime penal colony, while Eiupov was sentenced in July 2022 to 17 years, also in a strict regime penal colony.

On 30 November 2022, the Southern District Military Court sentenced Mustafaev to 17 years’ imprisonment, with the first three years to be served in a cell-type prison and the rest in a strict regime penal colony. He was also sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom upon completion of his sentence.

Why do we consider Mustafaev a political prisoner?

The Investigative Committee did not provide the court with evidence that Mustafaev had engaged in terrorist activities, the preparation of terrorist acts, storage of ammunition or even calls for violence. All the charges were related to the formal status of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Russia as a terrorist organisation and were based on the testimony of an FSB operative and two classified witnesses, whose testimonies were almost identical. As in other similar cases, the classified witnesses had allegedly previously been members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, but had left the organisation and cooperated with investigators.

We consider the 2003 decision of the Russian Supreme Court designating Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organisation to be unfounded. The binding part of the judgment contains no evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a terrorist organisation. We are not aware of any instances of terrorist acts committed or prepared by members of Hizb ut-Tahrir anywhere in the world.

At the same time, the decision of the Russian Supreme Court has simplified procedures for investigating ‘terrorist’ cases connected to Hizb ut-Tahrir. To obtain a conviction, it is no longer necessary to prove the commission or preparation of a terrorist act. The Russian security services take advantage of this circumstance to artificially inflate the statistics of successfully solved crimes of terrorism.

In annexed Crimea, the prosecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir members is also used as a tool of repression against Crimean Tatars. Crimean Tatars reacted negatively to the 2014 annexation of the peninsula and have been persecuted ever since. In Ukraine, Hizb ut-Tahrir functions as a legally recognised organisation.

Mustafaev was actively involved in defending the rights of Crimean Tatars persecuted by the Russian authorities. He attended courts, participated in solidarity actions and supported the families of political prisoners. Mustafaev’s associates in Crimean Solidarity believe his civic activity was the real reason for his arrest.

A more detailed description of the case and the position of the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ human rights project are available on our publishing platform on Telegram.

An up-to-date list of political prisoners in Russia is available on our website.

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

How can you help?

You can send electronic mail to the political prisoners of Crimea via the website of Crimean Solidarity.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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