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Russia: Crimean Blogger Sentenced on False Charges Must Be Released
In response to the verdict against Nariman Memedeminov, a Crimean Tatar blogger and activist who was condemned by a Russian military court in Rostov-on-Don on October 2 for allegedly “making public calls for terrorism,” Freedom House issued the following statement:
“With the verdict against blogger Nariman Memedeminov for posting videos on YouTube, we must add another name to the long list of political prisoners from Crimea who have been persecuted by Russia,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Nariman was sentenced to two-and-a-half years under Russian law over videos about the peaceful Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir that he posted in 2013—years before Russia began claiming jurisdiction over Crimea. His imprisonment adds to the at least 86 political prisoners from Crimea who remain in Russian detention, despite the September exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia. Russia should immediately stop flouting basic human rights law and standards in Crimea, and release Nariman and other individuals detained or convicted because of their political beliefs or peaceful expression.”
Nariman Memedeminov is an activist and blogger whose YouTube channel covered topics including politically motivated court hearings of Crimean Tatar activists and unlawful searches of their homes. He was arrested by Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers in Crimea and charged with “making public calls for terrorism” in March 2018, and has remained in custody ever since. The allegation was based on videos he posted in 2013 of the Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia as a terrorist organization but operates legally in Ukraine.
On September 7, Ukraine and Russia swapped dozens of prisoners, some of whom had been held since 2014. According to Ukrainian human rights advocates, the Russian authorities and Russian-backed forces in Donbas and Crimea continue to hold at least 86 political prisoners such as Memedeminov. By detaining and convicting many of them under Russian law, the Russian government has flouted international law and human rights principles.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.