The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its resolute protest over the illegal sentence handed down to Emil Kurbedinov, a Crimean Tatar activist and lawyer, by the Russian occupying “court” in Simferopol today. He has been sentenced to 5 days of administrative detention.
Emil Kurbedinov has been one of the key lawyers representing Ukrainian citizens who have been illegally detained by Russia under trumped-up and politically motivated charges. He has also recently defended one of the Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia as a prisoner of war.
Kurbedinov’s recent support to Ukrainian sailors may well have triggered his arrest, but this is not the first time that lawyers and human rights defenders have been targeted under the repressive regime imposed by Russian occupiers. Just last month, Emil and two of his colleagues, Lilia Gemedzhy and Edem Semedliaev, received an official warning that the Russian-imposed law on demonstrations and other public events and gatherings must not be violated.
The allegation used by the Russian occupation “court” as a pretext to send Emil Kurbedinov behind bars, notably “displaying attributes and symbols of extremist organizations”, has been of the same ungrounded and fabricated nature.
Through intimidation and oppression, Russia continues its attempts to deprive Ukrainian citizens - political prisoners in Russia and in the occupied territories, of their right of the defense. This intimidation extends to those who support Ukrainian hostages and who represent them in court. In this regard, we note with concern that the tactic of using administrative penalties to “exhaust” opposition activists, widely practiced in Russia, is now implementing in occupied Crimea.
We condemn this deplorable practice and call on Russia to immediately halt it. Russia must implement in full the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions, adopted in 2014, 2016 and 2017, as well as the 2017 Order of the International Court of Justice regarding provisional measures in the case of Ukraine vs Russia.
Until Crimea is de-occupied and Ukrainians illegally detained by Russia are released, we call on the international community to step-up political and diplomatic pressure as well as sanctions on the aggressor state.