Write to Russia: Appaz Kurtamet, a Ukrainian citizen, imprisoned for ‘financing an illegal armed group’ by a Russian-controlled court in occupied Crimea

In April 2023, a Russian-controlled court in Simferopol in occupied Crimea sentenced Appaz Kurtamet to seven years in a strict regime penal colony (in August, the Supreme Court of Crimea upheld the decision on appeal) on charges of financing an illegal armed group. Kurtamet, who is 19 years old and a Crimean Tatar, had transferred 500 hryvnias to a friend fighting for Ukraine in the Crimean Tatar Volunteer Battalion. Memorial has designated Appaz Kurtamet a political prisoner. Memorial has stated that Kurtamet’s prosecution violated his right to fair trial and was probably related to his nationality and ethnic origin.

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 July 2022, Kurtamet set off to visit relatives in Crimea but after he arrived at a checkpoint between Kherson region and Crimea, his family lost all contact with him. His whereabouts remained unknown until October 2022 when he was able to call home and said he was being held in a remand prison in Crimea and needed a lawyer. He had been remanded in custody on 10 October by a court in Simferopol on charges of ‘financing an illegal armed group’ (Article 208, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code). The court interpreted the fact that Appaz Kurtamet had transferred 500 hryvnias to a friend serving in the Crimea [Crimean Tatar] Volunteer Battalion as ‘financing an illegal armed group.’

Memorial has pointed out that Kurtamet only lent a small amount of money to his friend, who later returned the debt, something confirmed by Kurtamet’s correspondence and bank documents. Moreover, Memorial argues that 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.

Political Prisoners. Memorial, 18 January 2024

Write to Russia – Write to Appaz Kurtamet

The Russian penal system does not allow any messages to prisoners that are written in foreign languages, but Write to Russia is here to help you. To write to Appaz Kurtamet to show your support for hIm, please send your letter as an email to us at: letters-to-prisoners@protonmail.com. We shall translate the letter into Russian for you and, depending on your request, either mail the translated letter on your behalf to Appaz or return the letter to you by email for posting in an envelope with an address written in Russian. If we send the letter on your behalf, we ask that you compensate us for the cost of postage from the UK (currently £2.20 – $2.73; €2.52). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address to write to Appaz Kurtamet is:

600020, Владимирская область, г. Владимир, ул. Большая Нижегородская, д. 67, ФКУ Т-2, УФСИН России по Владимирской области, Куртамету Аппазу Халиловичу, 2002 г. р.

If you would like to write to another person unjustly deprived of liberty in Russia, the project Write to Russia has so far highlighted the following cases:

  1. Sasha (Aleksandra) Skochilenko – imprisoned for peaceful anti-war protest – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-2/
  2. Mikhail Zhilin – imprisoned for refusing to fight against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-3/
  3. Aleksei Arbuzenko – imprisoned for protesting the war against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-4/
  4. Aleksei Navalny – imprisoned for peaceful participation in electoral politics – died in custody – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-5/
  5. Evgeny Zinich- imprisoned for his faith – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-6/
  6. Alsu Kurmasheva – held on remand for her work as a journalist – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-7/
  7. Bakhrom Khamroev – imprisoned for his political and religious beliefs and human rights work – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-8
  8. Andrei Kapatsyna – imprisoned for his religious beliefs and refusing to fight in Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-9
  9. Gregory Vinter – imprisoned for speaking out about the killings in Bucha and Irpen – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-10
  10. Aleksei Gorinov – imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-11/
  11. Vladimir Kara-Murza – imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-12/
  12. Darya Poliudova – imprisoned for exercising her right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-13/
  13. Ilya Yashin – Ilya Yashin – imprisoned for speaking out about Russian war crimes in Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-14/

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