Children’s martial arts instructor Isya Ragimov has been sentenced to 12 years in a strict regime penal colony on charges of organising the activities of a terrorist organisation
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Isya Ragimov a political prisoner. We believe he is being prosecuted for political reasons, in connection with his non-violent exercise of the rights to freedom of conscience, religion, expression and association, in order to maintain and strengthen the powers of those in authority. Memorial calls for an immediate end to the criminal prosecution of Mr. Ragimov and his release from custody.
Who is Isya Rahimov and what is he charged with?
Born in Dagestan, Isya Ragimov lived in St. Petersburg, where he worked as a children’s instructor in martial arts.
In May 2014 the Federal Security Service [FSB] for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region opened a criminal investigation with regard to the establishment of a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, an organisation banned in Russia, in St. Petersburg. The first arrests in the case took place in June 2014.
In April 2015 Isya Ragimov was arrested on charges of organising the activities of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Criminal Code). According to investigators, he was one of the leaders of the regional branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir which had existed in St. Petersburg since 2009 and, after other leaders were arrested, he took on responsibility for the group’s organisational functions and recruited new supporters.
Isya Ragimov fully admitted his guilt and actively cooperated with the investigation, including testifying against other defendants in the case.
On 21 November 2016 the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Ragimov to 12 years in a strict regime colony. On 12 January 2017 the Russian Supreme Court upheld the sentence.
Ragimov is serving his sentence in Penal Colony No. 17 in Krasnodar region.
Why does Memorial consider Ragimov a political prisoner?
Memorial has studied the case against Isya Ragimov and has concluded that his criminal prosecution, conviction and punishment had no basis in law and were politically motivated.
Ragimov was not charged with preparing or carrying out a terrorist act, making threats of terrorism or inciting violence. All charges relate solely to his involvement with the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The word ‘unidentified’ appears frequently in the 10-page verdict. Thus, Ragimov joined Hizb ut-Tahrir at the instigation of an ‘unidentified person.’ He then involved several ‘unidentified persons,’ who appear in the verdict under pseudonyms, in its activities. He went on to accept an offer from an ‘unidentified person’ to head the organisation’s cell in St. Petersburg and received from that person two ‘unidentified email addresses on the Internet’ to receive assignments and transmit reports.
Ragimov held meetings of the organisation’s members at which he ‘passed on information he had received via an unidentified mail address from unidentified persons’ related to the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir. He also collected ‘unidentified sums of money’ from cell’s members.
The investigators made no effort whatsoever, it would seem, to gather evidence of Ragimov’s guilt or to substantiate any of the charges since he had already pleaded guilty during the investigation. Even the imputed participation and organisation of the activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir cell in St. Petersburg remained virtually unproven.
Moreover, even if we disregard the fact that the acts imputed to Ragimov have not been proven, his criminal prosecution for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir is unfounded and unlawful.
The Supreme Court decision of 14 February 2003, banning the activities of a large number of Islamic organisations including Hizb ut-Tahrir, contained no evidence of terrorist activities on the part of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The decision devoted only three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir and these contain no evidence of terrorist activities. Consequently, charges of terrorism solely on the basis of membership of, or involvement in, Hizb ut-Tahrir are also unlawful.
Despite this, according to a list maintained by Memorial, at least 315 people have either been prosecuted, or are currently being prosecuted, for involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Memorial calls for the immediate cessation of criminal proceedings against Ragimov and his release from custody.
A more detailed description of the case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre can be found on our website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or as a victim of politically motivated prosecution does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.