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Ukrainian political prisoner dies in Russian pre-trial detention centre

Friday, 10 February 2023, 14:53
Ukrainian political prisoner dies in Russian pre-trial detention centre

Dzhemil Gafarov, a Crimean Tatar activist who had been sentenced by a Russian court for his involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is deemed to be a terrorist organisation in Russia, has died in a pre-trial detention centre. 

Source: Radio Liberty, citing a statement by Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People 

Details: Gafarov, 60, died in the pre-trial detention centre at Novocherkassk, Russia.

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Gafarov had been diagnosed with kidney failure. In November 2022 he suffered a heart attack. According to Gafarov, he was refused treatment while in the detention centre. His lawyers had emphasised that the detention was life-threatening for him.

Quote from Gafarov’s lawyer: "He says that sometimes he is very unwell, he has episodes twice a day… He says they try to give him some medicine, but he needs to see a doctor before taking anything, as he has kidney failure and whatever they’re giving him for his heart might affect his kidneys. He does not even get up while speaking."

More details: Gafarov said he was expecting to be transferred to a Russian penal colony: "It is unclear whether I will survive the transfer or not. How can I spend months being transported? It will be very difficult to travel."

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The Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation did not comment on the information provided by Gafarov's lawyers and relatives.

Background:

  • Dzhemil Gafarov, together with Servet Gaziyev, Alim Karimov, Seyran Murtaza and Erfan Osmanov, was detained after the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and the Russian Guard searched the homes of Crimean Tatar activists on 27 March 2019. Another person, Edem Yayachikov, disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown. Later, another suspect, Raim Aivazov, was detained. In total, 24 people were detained at that time.
  • On 27 and 28 March 2019, the Russian district court of Simferopol arrested all the detainees. According to the case materials, the defendants had no weapons, explosives or ammunition, had no plans to commit terrorist acts, and had not incited others to commit terrorist acts. But direct or indirect involvement in the activities of an organisation that is on the list of recognised terrorists in the Russian Federation is sufficient to be accused of these offences by the Russian security services.
  • The Supreme Court of Russia recognised the Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation on 14 February 2003.
  • Representatives of the organisation did not have an opportunity to present their position during the proceedings. In Ukraine and most countries of the world, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates without any restrictions at the level of national legislation.
  • Criminal "cases of Hizb ut-Tahrir" were opened in occupied Crimea in January 2015.
  • On 11 January 2023, Alim Karimov, Seyran Murtaza, Erfan Osmanov, Dzhemil Gafarov and Servet Gaziyev, the Crimean Tatars accused in the so-called Crimean Muslims case, were sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Russian court, which found them guilty of involvement in terrorist activities.
  • Radio Liberty reports that the Memorial human rights centre had recognised the detained activists, including Gafarov, as political prisoners.

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