Crimean politician/activist Nariman Dzhelyal and four other Crimean Tatar men were searched and detained by Russian security forces, accusing them of alleged sabotage of a gas pipeline near the village of Perevalnoye (close to Simferopol) during September 3rd-4th.
Two detainees, Eskender and Arsen Akhtemov, were sentenced to administrative arrests of up to 15 days, and the other three, Asan and Asis Akhtemov and Dzhelyal, were arrested for two months with a stipulation that the sentence for their alleged crime could be increased up to 15 years.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova, the report of pipeline damage was not confirmed by any independent sources. Ukrainian President’s Representative in the Crimea, Anton Korynevych, believes the arrests were Russia’s political revenge for the Crimean Platform international forum held in Kyiv on August 23rd and for Nariman’s and other Mejlis members’ participation in it.
Nariman Dzhelyal took part in the Crimean Solidarity webinar organized by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in March 2021, where he said that Crimean Tatars living in Crimea are de-facto hostages of Russian authorities and can be disturbed and persecuted at any moment they stand up or speak up against injustice or otherwise try to defend their rights.
A lawyer hired by Akhtemov’s family stated that the authorities deny him access to his client Asan Akhtemov. He and Nariman’s lawyer also said that their clients’ posture and certain gestures indicate that they may have suffered physical tortures in detention.
The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation joins the international community in the condemnation of systematic violations of human rights and the persecution against the Crimean Tatar people in occupied Crimea and urges the immediate release of those arrested illegally.
In this regard, the Foundation further expresses solidarity with Nariman, Asan, Asis, Eskender, Arsen and their families.