The Kremlin’s Political Prisoners: The Case of Nariman Memedeminov
On October 2, 2019, Nariman Memedeminov, a dual citizen of Ukraine and of the Russian Federation, a resident of Crimea, activist of the Crimean Solidarity movement, and a citizen journalist, was sentenced to two years and six months in a penal colony and banned from administering websites for two years in accordance with Part 1 of Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code (“Public calls for terrorist activities”).
In 2013, Mededeminov published videos of events hosted by the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (an organization that was legally operating in Ukraine but banned in the Russian Federation) on his YouTube channel.
The FSB charged Memedeminov with “public calls for terrorism, including statements aimed at recruiting others in the activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami” in his two YouTube videos published between February 2013 and March 2014.
In the videos, the activist discusses the events of the Hizb ut-Tahrir in Simferopol in 2013 – a rally and a conference. The videos contained no calls for terrorism, extremism or violence.
Moreover, both videos had been published before the occupation of Crimea by Russia took place, that is, while Crimea was government by the Ukrainian legislation which does not restrict such publications or feature any bans of activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir. Persecution of local residents under the Russian Criminal Law for actions in the “pre-Russian” period is completely unlawful.
In another video, posted on March 25, 2014, Nariman Memedeminov, surrounded by several men under the flag used by the Hizb ut-Tahrir, read out in English an appeal to defense of Muslims in Central Africa. There were no calls for terrorism, extremism or violence in that appeal either.
Neither the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on a ban of the Hizb ut-Tahrir, nor materials of criminal cases investigated in Russia and the CIS countries, have been able to establish facts of terrorist or any violent activity perpetrated by this organization.
The Memorial Human Rights Center considers this decision unlawful.
Nariman Memedeminov was also an active member of the public movement Crimean Solidarity. The movement supports Crimean Tatars persecuted by the Russian authorities. Memedeminov conducted live broadcasts from courtrooms where proceedings involving Crimean Tatars prosecuted for political reasons took place. He also created video-documentaries of raids and illegal searches of the homes of members of the Crimean Tatar community by the Kremlin-directed forces.
The arrest and continued detention of Memedeminov as a premeditated assault against the Crimean Tatar community aimed to silence critics of the Russian authorities.
The persecution of Nariman Memedeminov is a retaliation for his constitutionally-protected rights to: engage in non-violent human rights activism, journalistic activities, criticism of the Russian law enforcement. His unjust persecution is a part of a broad campaign by the Russian government to repress Crimean Tatars for their refusal to recognize Russian jurisdiction over the illegally-annexed Crimea.
We call for the immediate release of Nariman Memedeminov and for the end of his criminal prosecution.