‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Nasrulla Seidaliev, convicted on charges of involvement in the Crimean Tatar Chelebidzhikhan battalion, is a political prisoner 

3 February 2023

Nasrulla Seidaliev delivered humanitarian aid to refugees, but he was accused of supplying provisions to members of armed groups and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ an independent human rights project, considers Nasrulla Seidaliev a political prisoner in accordance with international standards. His criminal prosecution for participation in an illegal armed group was based on his political views, citizenship and ethnicity. In the course of his prosecution, Seidaliev’s right to a fair trial was grossly violated, and the criminal case against him was based on fabricated evidence.

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

Who is Nasrulla Seidaliev and why has he been prosecuted?

Nasrulla Seidaliev is a former deputy chair of the Kherson region Medzhlis (Mejlis) of the Crimean Tatar people, the regional branch of an organisation declared extremist in Russia.

On 4 March 2022 Seidaliev was detained in Sevastopol, where he had gone to visit relatives, and he was charged with participation ‘on the territory of a foreign state in an armed group, not provided for by the legislation of the given state, for purposes contrary to the interests of the Russian Federation’  (Article 208, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to the Investigative Committee, in January 2016 Seidaliev had joined the Crimean Tatar volunteer battalion named after Noman Chelebidzhikhan, where he engaged in small-scale farming, cleaning and supplying provisions.

Nasrulla Seidaliev denied the charges. According to him, the reason for his prosecution was a visit he made to a tent-camp for refugees in Kherson region where he had provided the refugees with vegetables from his garden and other home-made provisions. 

Why do we consider Seidaliev a political prisoner?

The case against Nasrulla Seidaliev was based almost entirely on the testimony of witnesses. The identities of three of the witnesses were classified and they did not answer questions posed by the defence. One of these witnesses was in custody while the two others had allegedly earlier voluntarily refused to participate in the battalion and had given themselves up to Russian security forces. These witnesses had already testified repeatedly in cases against Crimean Tatars accused of participation in the volunteer Chelebidzhikhan battalion. In fact, there is a stream of such prosecutions; the investigators only change the names of the accused in the testimonies.

In a photograph, the only physical evidence in the prosecution, Seidaliev is shown surrounded by women, children and men in civilian clothes. Seidaliev claims that these were refugees from Crimea, to whom he had brought humanitarian aid. According to the Investigative Committee, they were members of the battalion.

We consider that Seidaliev’s participation in the Chelebidzhikhan battalion has not been proven. Moreover, we consider that the fact of participation in this group itself does not constitute a crime.

It was the entrepreneur Lenur Islyamov who announced the creation of the battalion at a September 2015 press conference in Kyiv. At the same time, two members of the Ukrainian parliament, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, announced the beginning of a civil blockade of Crimea. Participants in the battalion checked goods crossing the border with Crimea. Over the next two months, the Ukrainian government decided to ban shipments of goods and services from and to Crimea, except for humanitarian goods. Since January 2016, members of the battalion, or to be more precise, the public association Asker which was founded on its basis, conducted joint patrols with the Ukrainian Border Guard Service. The battalion never took part in any military action.

We believe that despite the fact that the creation of this battalion named after Chelebidzhikhan was not enshrined in law, its activities cannot be considered illegal. Proof of this is the battalion’s participation in border patrols with Ukrainian security forces. At the same time, we believe Russia’s interests are contradicted not by the activities of the battalion, but by the illegal annexation of Crimea.

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 write to Nasrulla Muzafarovich Seidaliev at the following address: 

In Russian: 295006, г. Симферополь, ул. Бульвар Ленина, д. 4, ФКУ СИЗО-1 УФСИН России по Республике Крым и г. Севастополю, Сейдалиеву Насрулле Музафаровичу, 1959 г.р.

In English: Nasrulla Muzafarovich Seidaliev (born 1959), Remand Prison No. 1, Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, 4 Lenin Boulevard Street, Simferopol, Russia, 295006.

You can also send electronic mail to Nasrulla Seidaliev via the Zonatelkom service.

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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