Write to Russia: Nariman Dzhelyal – Crimean Tatar activist imprisoned on false charges

Nariman Dzhelyal is a journalist and Crimean Tatar activist who, until the organisation was banned as ‘extremist’, was first deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (an organisation that performed an important role representing the Crimean Tatar community and contributing to its cultural and educational life ). Nariman Dzhelyal was arrested in the early hours of 4 September 2021 when Russian security services raided his house. The authorities later said he had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in an explosion of a gas pipeline on 23 August 2021 which supplied a Russian military base near the city of Simferopol. Nariman Dzhelyal had just returned to his home in Crimea from Kyiv where he had attended an international conference of the Crimea Platform, an international summit held to draw attention to the human rights situation in Crimea. Human Rights Watch reported that for 24 hours Nariman Dzhelyal was held without water, food, or access to a lawyer, in handcuffs and with a bag over his head.

On 21 September 2022 the Supreme Court of Russian-occupied Crimea convicted Nariman of sabotage (Article 281, Part 2 [a, b], of the Russian Criminal Code), possession of an explosive device (Article 222.1, Part 4, of the Russian Criminal Code) and smuggling of an explosive device (Article 226.1, Part 3, of the Russian Criminal Code), all as part of an organised group. Amnesty International described the conviction as handed down ‘on false charges’. The court sentenced Nariman Dzhelyal to 17 years’ imprisonment in a strict regime penal colony, a 700,000 rouble fine and restrictions on his rights for 18 months after the end of his sentence. Nariman Dzhelyal is married and has four young children. He has been recognised as a political prisoner by Memorial and as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

At the same trial, two other Crimean Tatars, Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov, were also convicted on the same charges and sentenced, respectively, to 15 and 13 years’ imprisonment in a strict regime penal colony. Memorial has recognised all three as political prisoners.

In a drive to portray politically active Crimean Tatars as “extremists” and “terrorists” and remove any trace of dissent from the peninsula, Russian authorities have exiled or criminally prosecuted Crimean Tatar leaders with blatant disregard for due process, harassed and ultimately banned their representative body, and forced Crimean Tatar media outlets to close. Crimean Tatars have been victims of enforced disappearancesarbitrary arrests, torture, and ill-treatment in custody. Dozens have been slammed with bogus criminal charges or horrendous and unjust prison terms. Russian authorities need to immediately release Nariman Dzhelyal and others held on politically motivated charges. This lawlessness needs to stop.

Yulia Gorbunova, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch, ‘The Revolving Door of Persecution in Crimea,’ Human Rights Watch, 7 September 2021

Russia’s systematic suppression of non-Russian identities in Crimea has been backed up by the threat and use of violence, intimidation, enforced disappearance, killing, arbitrary detention and prosecution, unlawful trial by Russian military courts, illegal transfer of detainees and prisoners to Russia, and harassment of any dissenting voices, as well as persecuting lawyers who represented them. Over the last ten years, Amnesty International has highlighted the cases of many individuals who have been punished for exercising their human rights. These cases include leaders of the Crimean Tatar community, civil and human rights activists, bloggers and journalists, such as Akhtem Chiygoz, Emir-Usein Kuku, Server Mustafaev, Nariman Dzhelyal, Irina Danilovich, Mykola Semena and numerous others.

’10 years of occupation of Crimea Russia’, Amnesty International, 18 March 2024

Write to Russia – Write to Nariman Dzhelyal

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 Nariman Dzhelyal 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 Nariman Dzhelyal 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 £2.50 – $3.14; €2.92). To learn more about our letter writing project, click here: Write to Russia.

The address to write to Nariman Dzhelyal is:

662606, Красноярский край, г. Минусинск, ул. Горького, д. 114, ФКУ Т ГУФСИН России по Красноярскому краю, Джелялову Нариману Энверовичу, 1980 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/
  14. Appaz Kurtamet – imprisoned on fabricated charges of ‘financing an illegal armed group’ by a Russian-controlled court in occupied Crimea – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-15/
  15. Vyacheslav Malakhov – remanded in custody for criticising Putin for launching the war against Ukraine – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-16/
  16. Maria Ponomarenko – imprisoned for sharing information about the Russian attack on the Mariupol theatre – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-17/
  17. Grigory Melkonyants – held on remand for his work monitoring elections – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-18/
  18. Daniil Stepanov – imprisoned for anti-war ‘vandalism’ and ‘cooperation with ‘foreign organisations’ – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-19/
  19. Evgenia Berkovich – a theatre director held on remand on charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ in violation of the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-20/
  20. Svetlana Petriychuk – a playwright held on remand on charges of ‘justifying terrorism’ in violation of the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-21
  21. Oleg Orlov – prominent human rights defender imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of expression – https://www.rightsinrussia.org/write-to-russia-22