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Crimean Tatar activist Emil Ziyadinov is a political prisoner


Emil Ziyadinov has been remanded in custody on terrorist charges despite not being accused of any specific terrorist activity

Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international guidelines, considers Emil Ziyadinov a political prisoner. We believe he is being prosecuted for the non-violent exercise of freedom of religion and the right of association. So far as we know, Ziyadinov has been deprived of his liberty in the absence of any evidence of a crime in order to put an end to his religious activities, as well as to suppress civic activity among the residents of Crimea following annexation.

Memorial calls for the immediate release of Emil Ziyadinov.

Who is Emil Ziyadinov and what are the charges against him?

Emil Ziyadinov, 37, is an activist of Crimean Solidarity, the Crimean Tatar human rights movement. He has repeatedly participated in solidarity actions for political prisoners, including in Moscow, and provided support to their families.

On 7 July 2020 law enforcement agents searched the homes of Crimean Tatars across the peninsula. Emil Ziyadinov was one of six Crimeans detained and then remanded in custody.

Ziyadinov is accused of organising, in the Crimean village of Oktyabrsky, a cell of the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami), which has been designated a terrorist organisation in Russia (under Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code).

As a member of this organisation, Ziyadinov has been charged with preparing a seizure of power (Article 30, Part 1, in association with Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code). The Investigative Committee justified this charge on the grounds that the declared goal of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to create a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, which would include the Muslim regions of the world.

Ziyadinov’s trial began at the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don in April 2021.

Emil Ziyadinov maintains his innocence of the charges.

Why Memorial considers Ziyadinov a political prisoner

According to the investigators themselves, Ziyadinov is guilty of nothing more than being a member of a religious association.

As in other prosecutions for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir known to us, the defendant in this case has not been charged with preparing to commit an act of terrorism or making terrorist threats. As can be seen from the experts’ examination of the audio recordings of the four meetings included in the indictment, only one person other than Ziyadinov took part in them, and that person has not been identified by the investigation. On the basis of these conversations, the experts decided that the accused behaved as a ‘teacher’ or ‘mentor’ while the second participant in the conversations acted as a ‘student’. The mentor and student were reading and discussing texts from the ‘ideological sources’ of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This, according to the investigators, constitutes ‘terrorist activity’.

Memorial considers the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization to have no basis in fact or law. The Supreme Court decision of 2003 devotes one paragraph of three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir. These three sentences contain no evidence of terrorist activities.

We note that Article 28 of the Russian Constitution guarantees everyone ‘freedom of conscience and freedom of religious belief, including the right to profess, individually or together with others, any religion or to profess no religion, to freely choose, have and disseminate religious and other beliefs and act in accordance with them.’

In the years since Hizb ut-Tahrir was designated a terrorist organisation in the Russian Federation, hundreds of Muslims have been prosecuted on criminal charges for involvement in the organisation. Each successive year courts have sentenced believers to ever longer prison terms (up to 24 years). At present, more than 330 people have been convicted or are being prosecuted for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The unjust and unlawful prosecutions of Muslims for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir is exacerbated in the Crimea by the fact that under Ukrainian law this organisation operated legally.

Emil Ziyadinov was an active participant in the Crimean Solidarity human rights movement, providing support to Crimean Tatar political prisoners and their families. We believe prosecution for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir has become a means to suppress solidarity among the residents of Crimea.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

More information about the case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre is available on our website.

How you can help

You can support all political prisoners by donating to the Fund to Support Political Prisoners of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners via PayPal, using the e-wallet at [email protected].

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Зиядинов Эмиль Исмаилович родился 19 июня 1984 года, житель посёлка Октябрьское Красногвардейского района Крыма, активист крымско-татарской правозащитной организации «Крымская солидарность».