Human Rights Field Mission in Crimea reports that arrests made in Crimea in '26 February' case are in breach of legal norms

posted 20 Feb 2015, 02:12 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Feb 2015, 02:22 ]
16 February 2015

Source: (info
The Crimean authorities’ persecution of activists for participation in protests on 26 February 2014 breached international legal standards and the principles of criminal law, the Human Rights Field Mission in Crimea reports.

Arrests and interrogations are being carried out in relation to a criminal case "for participation in and organisation of mass unrest" which took place in Simferopol on 26 February 2014. As part of this case, searches have been carried out over the last two weeks at ATR, the Crimean Tatar television channel, one person was interrogated and two people were arrested.

Olga Skripnik, deputy chairperson of the Crimean Field Mission for Human Rights, believes the case breaches legal standards.

"It does not bother prosecutors or the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation that they have initiated a criminal case over events which took place over the three weeks preceding the "referendum". These events took place on Ukrainian territory, under Ukrainian jurisdiction and were the actions of Ukrainian citizens", Olga Skripnik said.

In her opinion, only the Ukrainian courts have the right to judge whether these actions broke the law.

"But people are being judged according to Russian Federation law. The ‘26 February’ case does not comply with either international law or common sense. But nonetheless, there is an ongoing criminal case, searches, interrogations and detentions", she stated.

According to Dmitry Makarov, the deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Field Mission (Russia), the Crimean authorities are once again instigating completely new principles of criminal procedure:

"Of course, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was not in force in Crimea at that time. In this particular case, however, a criminal case is being conducted with retroactive effect. This is a breach of fundamental principles of criminal law".

The human rights defender is convinced that it is already possible to appeal against decisions to arrest people in connection with this case.

"Any detention (including pre-trial detention) must be justified, understandable and follow legally defined procedure. In this particular case, questions arise both about the legal basis for the arrests and the validity of the choice of pre-trial detention. The arrests can already be appealed against, including by making an application to the European Court of Human Rights", he stated.

Only activists who oppose the current Crimean authorities have been arrested for participation in the events on 26 February 2014. One of them was Akhtem Chiigoz, deputy head of the Crimean Tatar national council (Mejlis).

The Human Rights Field Mission in Crimea believes that the ‘26 February’ case has absolutely no legal foundations and is politically motivated. Like the ‘3 May’ case, it is intended purely to persecute people who disagree with the Crimean authorities.

On 26 January 2015 staff of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and of the Centre against Extremism (Centre E) carried out a search at the ATR television channel. The result was that recordings of the events on 26 February 2014 that took place in front of the building of the Supreme Council of Crimea.

On 29 January 2015 Аkhtem Chiigoz was detained on suspicion of "organising and participating in mass unrest" which allegedly took place on 26 February in Simferopol. The Simferopol court (part of Kiev Region) remanded him in custody until 19 February 2015. On 11 February the pre-trial detention was extended until 19 May. On 7 February Iskender Kantemirov was held on the same charge. He has been remanded in custody for two months.

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts