As usual in such cases, the evidence the defendants committed terrorism offences consists in their participation in meetings, discussion of ideological questions, and attempts to spread their ideas among other Muslims.
In 2017 Ruslan Sungatov, Rustem Yamaliev, Marat Tulyakov, Ilnar Zinnatov and Irek Nasirov were remanded in custody in Tatarstan. They were charged, under Articles 205 and 150 of the Russian Criminal Code, with organising, and participating in, the activities of cells of the banned Muslim organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. Their criminal trial got under way at the Volga District Military Court in November 2018.
As in other prosecutions for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir of which we are aware, the defendants had attended meetings, discussed the group’s ideology, and sought to spread their ideas other Muslims. There is not a single piece of evidence to suggest they committed or planned to commit crimes of violence, still less any actions that could as a matter of common sense be called terrorism.
The charges are related exclusively to the involvement of the defendants in the international religious organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, classified as terrorist in 2003 by the Supreme Court of Russia.
The views and aims of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the texts posted on the group’s websites, are largely incompatible with the ideas of democracy and human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the international law based upon it; and the future Caliphate as proposed by Hizb ut-Tahrir includes discrimination on the basis of religion and gender. Nonetheless, in the democratic countries of North America and Western Europe, except for Germany, Hizb ut-Tahrir functions legally and there have been no criminal prosecutions for membership of the organisation. The ban on Hizb ut-Tahrir in Germany is for anti-Semitic publications and statements.
Memorial believes the ruling by the Supreme Court to classify Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation is mistaken. We consider the charges brought against the Muslims in Tatarstan to be groundless. We recognise the defendants as political prisoners and demand their release.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.
Further information about this case is available on the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre.
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