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Jailed Crimean Tatar activists transferred to Siberia

by Abbey Fenbert October 28, 2023 5:14 AM 2 min read
The Crimean Tatar flag flies outside the Kyiv City State Administration building on Crimean Tatar Flag Day, June 26, 2023. (Kirill Chubotin / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Russian authorities are transferring imprisoned Crimean Tatar activists Nariman Dzhelialov and Aziz Akhtemov from occupied Crimea to Minusinsk in eastern Siberia, the news outlet UA.South reported on Oct. 27.

Asan Akhtemov, Aziz's cousin, was also reportedly removed from Crimea. According to UA.South, Asan is bound for the Vladimir Central Prison, the largest prison in Russia.

Dzhelialov served as the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, a representative body of the Crimean Tatar people. Occuyping Russian forces banned the Mejlis in 2016, declaring it an "extremist organization."

Dzhelialov also participated in the first Crimea Platform in Kyiv on Aug. 23, 2021. The platform aims to build international support for the peninsula's liberation from Russian occupation. Shortly thereafter, on Sept. 4, Dzhelialov was arrested from his home, as were the Akhtemovs.

Russian authorities in occupied Crimea charged the three men with terrorism and sentenced Dzhelialov to 17 years in prison. Asan Akhtemov received a 15-year sentence, while Aziz was sentenced to 13 years.

They were convicted of co-conspiring with Ukrainian security services to blow up a gas pipeline, an accusation they all deny.

The European Council on Sept. 8 imposed sanctions against the prosecutors and judges who oversaw the court proceedings against Dzhelialov.

The transfer represents new burdens for the detainees and their families, who will have to make a lengthy and expensive journey in order to visit their imprisoned relatives. Finding   legal representation presents another challenge, as it is more likely local lawyers will be complicit with authorities.

"Nariman's calmness helped me get through these two terrible years, and people's support helps me to fight on," Dzhelialov's wife, Leviza, told UA.South.

In the shadow of war, Kremlin continues terrorizing Crimean Tatars
They usually come at four or five in the morning. Men in uniform and with guns pull up in large vehicles. The dogs start barking. The family wakes up, knowing exactly what is about to happen. The house is searched. Phones and computers are taken away. And so is the
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