Six Muslims have been convicted of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, an organisation banned in Russia
Memorial Human Rights Centre has examined the materials of two criminal prosecutions. In one, the defendants were four Muslims from Chelyabinsk region (Vadim Khabirov, Danis Abdarakhmanov, Ruslan Fatkullin and Rafis Khalilov); in the second, the defendants were two Muslims from Kazan (Bulat Makhmutov and Timur Sadykov). Memorial has concluded that those convicted were unlawfully deprived of their freedom on charges of terrorism when there was no evidence of such criminal activities. We consider Khabirov, Abdarakhmanov, Fatkullin, Khalilov, Makhmutov and Sadykov to be political prisoners. We demand their immediate release, and also that the cases against them be the subject of an impartial review in court.
Judgments in both cases were handed down by the Volga District Military Court. From the Court’s rulings it follows that the defendants had not engaged in preparing crimes of violence. The allegedly ‘terrorist’ activities of those convicted amounted to reading Islamic literature, attracting new supporters, conducting joint meetings and other activity criminalised solely because of the ‘terrorist’ status of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, which has been banned in Russia.
Al six were denied the right to a fair trial, the deprivation of liberty violated their right to freedom of conscience. The length of time and the conditions of detention were clearly disproportionate to the public danger presented by those convicted.
Four Muslims from Chelyabinsk region were sentenced on 13 November 2018 to terms ranging from six years in a general-regime prison colony to 16 years in a strict-regime prison colony.
Khabirov was found guilty of organising the activity of a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Article 205.5, Section 1, of the Russian Criminal Code); Abdarkhmanov, Fatkullin and Khalilov were convicted for taking part in the said cell (Article 205.5, Section 2).
The Court, on the basis of the testimony of secret witnesses, concluded that Khabirov conducted religious conversations that concerned acceptance of Islam as the sole true religion and set out the goals and tasks of Hizb ut-Tahrir. All those convicted in the case allegedly disseminated ideas based on the doctrine of the need to create the Caliphate, recruited new participants, spread the propaganda and publications of Hizb ut-Tahrir, convinced new cell members that Muslims suffer from discrimination and oppression, and explained the need to create the Caliphate in Russia.
The Muslims in Kazan, Bulat Makhmutov and Timur Sadykov, were convicted on charges of membership of the same Islamic organisation, Hizb ut-Tahrir, on 5 June 2017. Makhmutov was sentenced to 15 years and 10 months in a strict-regime prison colony with a further one-year period of probation after release (Article 205.5, Sections 1 and 2, of the Russian Criminal Code), Sadykov was sentenced to a five-year term in a general-regime prison colony (Article 295.5, Section 2).
The judgment in the case of Makhmutov and Sadykov described as ‘criminal’ the participation of the defendants in meetings of supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kazan. During these meetings, allegedly, ‘there was ideological preparation, in the form of discussions about the political situation, that led to the creation of a critical attitude towards Russia,’ and the ideology of the Hizb ut-Tahrir was also studied. Those convicted allegedly ‘acted upon the religious feelings of other people…and took conspiratorial measures adopted in this organisation.’ Sadykov, apart from this, allegedly possessed extremist religious literature, and Makhmutov, after the arrest of Lenar Saitov (recognised as a political prisoner by Memorial), led the activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir cell in which, apart from Makhmutov, there were four other members. Participants in this cell, in particular, ‘attended mosques where they met and talked with people and invited them to tea parties for the purpose of potentially further engaging them in the activities of the organisation.’
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.
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