Statement on the appeal review of the case of politically motivated persecution of Nariman Memedeminov

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The city of Vlasikha Appellate military court (Russian Federation) will review the case of Crimean Tatar blogger, the mediacoordinator of Crimean Solidarity movement Nariman Memedeminov on May, 14th, 2020. The occupant government of Crimea sentenced Nariman to 2.5 years of prison in October of 2019 on charges of inciting acts of terrorism.

This sentence combined with the prohibition for Nariman to administer web-sites for two years became another illustration of Russia’s systematic policy aimed at destroying the freedom of expression and suppressing of independent activist movement in Crimea.

During the last six years since Crimea has been occupied, human rights defenders have documented over 300 cases of pressure on journalists, including incidents of physical assaults, torture, unlawful arrests, asset seizure, searches, threats, psychological pressure, denial of access to information and other forms of harassment. Crimea’s occupant administration uses Russia’s antiterrorist legislation as one of the main instruments in persecuting Crimean Tatar activists, bloggers and journalists. It was used in Nariman’s case too.

Persecution of Memedeminov has been condemned by many international organizations, in particular his case was mentioned in European Parliaments resolution in June of 2018.

The release of Nariman Memedeminov and other Crimean Tatar citizen journalists was demanded also by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir.

Memedeminov and other detained Crimean Tatar streamers were the recipients of the Ihor Lubchenko National prize for protection of freedom of expression in November of 2019, awarded by Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists. The international Committee to Protect Journalists called for release of Memedeminov as well as of other journalists detained by authoritarian governments in April of 2020, amidst the spread of SARS CoV-2.

The review of the appeal in Memedeminov’s case that will take place in the Appellate military court of the city of Vlasikha on May, 14th, 2020 carries new dangers. Because of the traveling limitations imposed across Russia in the time of fighting COVID19 (also being imposed in occupied Crimea) relatives of Nariman will not be able to attend the review and Nariman’s attorneys will only participate via videocall. With limited presence of defense and limited possibility of coverage of the review there is a risk that the prosecution will succeed in returning the case to the first instance and in increasing the jail time for Memedeminov.

We, human rights, media and other civil society organizations, address the democratic governments of member-states of the European Union, of the United States of America, of Canada, Switzerland and Japan and ask to demand from Russian Federation to immediately release Nariman Memedeminov and to stop the persecution of citizen journalists and activists in the occupied Crimea. We also ask them to strengthen the sanctions imposed against officials of occupant administration in Crimea and of Russia, responsible for politically motivated persecution of Nariman Memedeminov and of other citizens of Ukraine as well as for the gross violations of human rights and war crimes in Crimea.    

We call on the international organizations, in particular the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe to:

– address Russian Federation requesting immediate release of Nariman Memedeminov as well as other journalists and activists and a stop to repression of freedom of expression in Crimea;

– assist in establishing monitoring of politically motivated trials of Ukrainian citizens in “courts” of occupied Crimea and judicial institutions of Russian Federation;

– assist in enabling the functioning of an independent human rights monitoring mission in occupied Crimea, that, in particular, would monitor the exercise of freedom of expression and protection of rights of journalists.  

Human Rights Center ZMINA

Ukraine’s National Union of Journalists

Media Initiative for Human Rights

Crimean Human Rights Group


Union of Relatives of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Center for Civil Liberties

Human Rights Platform