Members of European Parliament sent letters of support to Kremlin’s political prisoners

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A group of Members of European Parliament sent letters of solidarity to four political prisoners – citizens of Ukraine, detained in prisons of Russian Federation and occupied Crimea: Remzi Bekirov, Osman Arifmemetov, Yevheniy Karakashev and Serhiy Filatov. 

We, the Members of European Parliament, observe with particular attention the violations of human rights that are taking place in Crimea. It is very painful to observe how the impunity of the representatives of the law enforcement guilty of abductions, arrests, assaults on activists, has resulted in an atmosphere of complete fear”, – the letter says.   

The MEPs add that they were astonished by the stories of Osman Arifmemetov and Remzi Bekirov, citizen journalists, who “fearlessly covered the persecution of Crimean Muslims, including the searches, arrests, court hearings until they became victims of this persecution themselves”.  

Moreover, the letter authors add that they were shocked by the case of Yevpatoriya-based anarchist Yevheniy Karakashev,  who was “subject to a show-off trial for a single video that he only watched once”. They are also concerned about the story of the resident of Dzhankoi, member of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” religious community Serhiy Filatov, who “will have to spend 6 years in prison for organizing religious meetings”.   

Members of the European Parliament plan to spread information about these cases: “ Our goals is to make sure that as many as possible Europeans from Prague, Brussels, Strasbourg, Geneva and many other cities of Europe realized that behind the problem of occupation of Crimea and of human rights violations there are real destinies of people. We want hundreds of different individuals (from simple office clerks to ministers) to be able to express their support for the political prisoners and solidarity and concerns over their destiny.” 

The letter was initiated by the Member of European Parliament representing Czechia Marketa Gregorova, who was joined by Ondrej Kovarik, Czechia; Andrius Kubilius, Lithuania; Reinhard Butikofer and Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Germany. They were then joined by 22 more MEPs.  

We remind that the activists of Crimean Solidarity and citizen journalists Remzi Bekirov and Osman Arifmemetov were arrested by Russian law-enforcement in Crimea on March, 27th, 2019, alongside two dozen other Crimean tatar activists. They were all accused of terrorism and participation in the religious organization Hizb ut-Tahrir. Both men are currently detained in the Simferopol detainment center. Left-wing activist, anarchist Yevheniy Karakashev was arrested on February, 1st, 2018 in Yevpatoriya with accusations of extremist expressions in social media. He was then sentenced to 6 years of prison and transferred to Kabardino-Balkaria. Another Crimea, Serhiy Filatov, was sentenced to 6 years of prison for organizing a religious community of Jehovah’s Witnesses on March, 5th, 2020. He was transferred to a prison in Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy (Rostov region, Russia) in spring.   

Ukrainian human rights organizations as well as Russian “Memorial” recognized all four Crimeans to be political prisoners.  

Altogether, according to Ukrainian human rights defenders,  there are at least 102 Ukrainians detained on the territory of Russian Federation and occupied Crimea in politically motivated cases of persecution.  

Center for Civil Liberties together with Euromaidan Press initiated traditional winter letter writing marathon for Ukrainians, illegally detained by Russia. You can find the complete instruction on how to write a letter as well as the addresses of the prisons following this link