‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Two Crimean Tatars (Timur Yalkabov and Lenur Seidametov), convicted on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, are political prisoners

1 February 2023

Timur Yalkabov was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment and Lenur Seidametov to 13 years’ imprisonment

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ a human rights project, in accordance with international standards, considers Crimean Solidarity activists Timur Yalkabov and Lenur Seidametov political prisoners. Their criminal prosecution was for alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, a political party banned in Russia. The prosecution of Yalkabov and Seidametov is in gross violation of their rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association. They are being prosecuted in the absence of evidence of a crime in order to suppress the civic activity of the residents of annexed Crimea. 

We demand the immediate release of Timur Yalkabov and Lenur Seidametov and that all criminal charges against them be dropped.

Who are Yalkabov and Seidametov and what were the charges against them?

Timur Yalkabov and Lenur Seidametov are Crimean Solidarity activists from Simferopol. Yalkabov attended the trials of Crimean political prisoners while Seidametov was engaged in the provision of parcels to those detained on remand.

On 17 February 2021, Russian security forces conducted a series of searches of the homes of a number of Muslims in Crimea. At least seven people, including Seidametov and Yalkabov, were then prosecuted for alleged involvement in the Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia.

Yalkabov was accused of organising the activities of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code), and Seidametov of participation in such activities (Article 205.5, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). In addition, they were both charged with preparing an armed seizure of power (Article 30 in conjunction with Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code).

The charges under all these articles are based on nothing more than their involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir. 

On 22 March 2022 the Southern District Military Court sentenced Timur Yalkabov to 17 years’ imprisonment and Lenur Seidametov to 13 years’ imprisonment. They are to spend the first four years of their sentences in a cell-based prison, the rest of the time in a strict regime penal colony.

Why do we consider Yalkabov and Seidametov political prisoners?

In the case of Yalkabov and Seidametov, the Investigative Committee did not provide the court with evidence of the defendants’ terrorist activities, preparation of terrorist acts, storage of ammunition or even incitement to violence. The charges are based only on the activists’ participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir activities and holding meetings with like-minded people.

We believe that the decision of the Russian Supreme Court designating Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organisation is unfounded. The ruling provides no evidence that this organisation engages in terrorist activities. We are not aware of a single instance of Hizb ut-Tahrir members committing or preparing to commit terrorist acts anywhere in the world.

At the same time, the decision of the Supreme Court simplified the procedure for the investigation of ‘terrorist’ cases involving Hizb ut-Tahrir since there was no longer any need to prove the commission or preparation of a terrorist act. Russian law enforcement agencies have taken advantage of this to artificially inflate their statistics for the solving of crimes of a terrorist nature. 

In annexed Crimea, the prosecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir members also serves the purpose of suppressing the Crimean Tatars, a group of people who historically have not been known for their loyalty to Russian authorities. Crimean Tatars on the whole reacted negatively to the annexation of the peninsula in 2014 and have been persecuted ever since. In Ukraine, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates absolutely legally.

In addition, Timur Yalkabov and Lenur Seidametov were actively involved in providing assistance to Crimeans persecuted by the Russian authorities. Most likely, the accusation of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir is also a tool for the suppression of public solidarity and civic activity among Crimean residents.

Further information about this case and the position of the human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ is available on our website.

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

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

How can you help?

You can send letters by 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. For more information about donating, please visit our website.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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