Virtual museum of Russian aggression.

Virtual museum of Russian aggression.



Systemic bullying

Searches as a tool of intimidation and pressure on the opponents of the occupation of Crimea became a common practice as early as 2014. Members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People experienced it firsthand when the so-called "bailiffs" and representatives of the FSB broke into their building. After an 11-hour search, the property of the Mejlis was inventoried and attached.

By the end of September 2014, 30-40 searches were carried out in the homes of the activists of the national movement of the Crimean Tatars, members of the Mejlis, as well as in mosques, madrassas and libraries. Thereafter, the searches have been getting increasingly frequent, as evidenced by the following figures:

As a rule, armed and masked security officers conduct searches at night or early in the morning, thus especially affecting children and elderly parents. If the suspects are absent, the houses of their relatives are searched. People are often prevented from calling their lawyers or the lawyers are hindered in their work, and even public defenders cannot communicate with the victims. Sometimes the search teams have no warrants issued by a court or simply would not present any documents at all. They are looking for weapons, explosives, which, allegedly, could be indicative of preparations for terrorist attacks, and for drugs. Failing to find anything suspicious, they would confiscate computers, mobile phones and religious literature. Damage to property is not infrequent.

There are records of cruel treatment as well. According to Emil Kurbedinov, a lawyer, FSB officers burst into the house of Ernest Seytosmanov in the village of Tylove, Balaklava Raion at the end of April 2021 to conduct a search and set about strangling him until he started losing consciousness. The search on 05/11/2021 in the Dubki district near Simferopol ended tragically with the death of a peaceful Uzbek Muslim Nabi Rakhimov who was shot for allegedly "armed resistance to law enforcement officers".

Although the repressive machine is directed against any activists – including the former pro-Russian supporters of the so-called Crimean Spring and members of religious denominations banned in Russia, such as Jehovah 's Witnesses – searches are mainly carried out in private households of the Crimean Tatars. For example, 53 dwellings out of 57 invaded by the security forces in 2017 belonged to the Crimean Tatars (64 out of 86 – in 2019). According to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center (CRC), there is a growing pattern of mass searches followed by mass arrests on suspicion of participation in a peaceful pan-Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir (declared terrorist in 2003 in Russia but quite legal in Ukraine and in most of the democratic countries around the world). In 2017, there were 28 such arrests, against 127 in 2018 and 157 in 2019.

"This is how the so-called 'authorities' are trying to discredit the indigenous people of Crimea and the pro-Ukrainian activists in the eyes of both the Russian and international community, presenting them as terrorists and extremists."

Eskender Bariev, head of the CRC.

Regular searches and detentions

This practice has continued in 2020 and 2021. Searches are regularly carried out simultaneously in several localities throughout Crimea, with the obvious purpose of obstructing the timely response by the human rights lawyers and support groups.

On 02/17/2021, mass searches of Crimean Muslims started at 04:00, once again scaring the families, including those with small children. These lawless activities ended at 08:25. Searches were held in the homes of the members of the Crimean Solidarity and its active supporters, simultaneously in Simferopol, Bakhchysaray, Bilohirsk, Orlyne (Sevastopol) and Zavitne (Sovetsky Raion).

Seven people were detained: Ernest Ibragimov, Abdulboriy Makhamademinov, Lenur Seidametov, Oleg Fyodorov, Yashar Shikhametov, Azamat Eyupov and Timur Yalkabov. Five of them were Crimean Tatars, one was Ukrainian. There also was an Uzbek among them. Makhamademinov was the house owner who had nothing to do with the activities of the Crimean Solidarity, so he was soon released.

Although the Crimean and Russian media initially reported about the arrest of the "extremists" who planned terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus, later it would turn out that the search yielded only some so-called "forbidden literature".

The Crimean Solidarity promptly started investigating the case and on the same day published the names, surnames and addresses of the victims of the latest repressions against the Crimean Muslims. It did not take long for a detailed account of the event to come out, and at 9:30 a team of seven defense lawyers gathered and signed contracts with the relatives of the illegally detained persons.

At 20:00, word got out that all detainees would be held in custody for two months.


In return, from 06/03 to 09/03/2021, the elders of the Crimean Tatars drafted and published a joint statement against repression and in support of all Crimean political prisoners. This initiative came from the Nizhniohirsk, Bakhchysaray, Simferopol, Kirovske, Sovetsky, Bilohirsk, Lenine and Krasnohvardiyske Raions of Crimea, and from the municipality of Sudak (a total of 20 groups of elders). They recorded a video that they distributed with the help of the Crimean Solidarity. The initiative caused a massive public outcry. The text of the appeal was distributed in the Crimean Tatar, Russian and English languages.

Meanwhile, officers of the so-called "prosecutor’s office" of the Nyzhniohirsky Raion of Crimea detected some "public calls for extremist activities" in the video message. The occupation administration pointed out that terms like "infringement", "intimidation", "lawlessness", "injustice” and calls to "help everyone who is under oppression" indicate the promotion of a "negative attitude towards the law enforcement and judicial officials".

Following the check, the elderly activist Akhmadzhon Kadyrov was warned by Mark Petrenko, the so-called "district prosecutor and a senior justice adviser", about the inadmissibility of breaking the law as provided for in Federal Law No. 114-FZ On Countering the Extremist Activities. In addition, he was warned about future prosecution in the event of failure to comply with the recommendations prescribed in the warning.


The events of 02/17/2021 became an illustrative example of the efficiency of information activities and, in general, the effectiveness of the social movement of peaceful resistance headed by the Crimean Solidarity. Apparently, swift public response to this and to similar episodes compels the so-called "prosecutor’s office" to adopt relatively soft decisions.

The administrative case against Ablyamit Ziyadinov, the activist of the Crimean Solidarity and journalist of the Grani magazine, ostensibly on charges of the "breach of the rules of conduct in emergency situation", was closed in January 2021, which in itself is an unprecedented decision by the occupation legal system.

Earlier, in February 2018, the Crimean police failed to detain two Crimean Tatars – Rustem Murasov and Rustem Tairov – at a gas station near the village of Verkhniosadove. As the situation instantly became known to the public, hundreds of people, including two public defenders Eskender Lyumanov and Emil Zeidullaev, quickly turned up at the scene.

Background information

Ethnic persecution in Crimea

"Publicity and vigilance is our main method of protecting the activists"

said the Crimean Solidarity on 02.02.2018.

On the whole, the attempts of the occupants to intimidate the residents of the occupied peninsula and thereby to put an end to public activism have failed to get traction. Photo and video footage of searches and subsequent detentions spread rapidly. Recorded facts and eyewitness accounts form the basis for reports of the human rights organizations, official statements, international resolutions and the like. In mainland Ukraine, based on the evidence collected, the Prosecutor's Office of the ARC conducts criminal proceedings under Part 2 Article 162 (violation of the right to private life and home) and Part 2 Article 146 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (unlawful imprisonment).


However, in Russia there is much harsher persecution of the so-called "extremists" and "terrorists" than in Crimea, in particular of Muslims suspected of having ties with Hizb ut-Tahrir. The reason could be the absence of such powerful political or social force, party or organization in Russia that would act in their defense so regularly, consistently and strongly. However, the dynamics of the Russian repressions, their growing scale and bleak outlook of the future raise acute concerns about the likelihood of a similar scenario in Crimea.


Published on 2021-09-01

Natalya Belitser

Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy


Обшуки Меджлісу: Джемілєв заявляє про "рейдерське захоплення." 17.09.2014, ООН: за первые полгода в Крыму провели в три раза больше обысков, чем в прошлом году.13.09.2018 В Крыму российские силовики проводят очередные обыски. 27.08.2019 Кримськотатарський центр повідомив про переслідування в анексованому Криму. 20.04.2021, Кількість арештів в окупованому Криму за чотири роки зросла більш як у 15 разів. 11.05.21, Забороненою в Росії і в окупованому Криму вважається література переважно релігійного спрямування, а також пов’язана з Меджлісом. Список таких книг містить понад дві тисячі найменувань; жодна з них не заборонена в Україні. Див.: Жителям анексованого Криму дали три місяці на здачу "забороненої літератури". 15.10.2014, ОБЫСК. 22.04.2021 Оперативники ФСБ душили крымского татарина перед тем, как провести у него обыск. Адвокат готовит жалобу. 1.05.2021 Подробиці трагедії і доля родини вбитого описані у низці публікацій; див., наприклад: Силовики ФСБ вбили людину під час обшуків в окупованому Криму – адвокат. 11.05.2021 «Следственные действия в Рамадан». Силовики в Крыму расстреляли политического беженца из Узбекистана. 11.05.2021 A Bullet in the Head instead of a Lawyer. Russia steps up Terror in occupied Crimea. Halya Coynash, 13.05.2021 В окупованому РФ Криму ФСБ провела обшуки, затримано чотирьох кримських татар (оновлено). 31.08.2020 Окупанти й далі тероризують кримських татар: за рік – понад 60 обшуків. 22. 01.2020 Крымская солидарность: ОБЫСКИ В КРЫМУ (обновляется). 17.02.2021 В Крыму проходят массовые обыски у активистов. В ФСБ заявили, что им вменяется 205.5 УК РФ. 17.02.2021 ФСБ задержала в Крыму экстремистов, которые планировали теракты на Северном Кавказе. 17.02.2021, Подмена понятий. В Крыму арестовали мусульман за связи с Хизб ут-Тахрир, а показали операцию против терактов на Кавказе. Антон Наумлюк, 17.02.2021 Mass armed searches for ‘prohibited books’ and arrests in Russian-occupied Crimea. Halya Coynash, 18.02.2021 Russia launches attack on Crimean Tatar elders for speaking out against repression. Halya Coynash, 23.03.2021 Окупанти винесли застереження за відеоролик старійшин Криму проти репресій. 23.03.2021 Сотрудники прокуратуры Нижнегорского района Крыма изучили видеообращение старейшин крымскотатарского народа. 22.03.21 Суд в Крыму закрыл административное дело журналиста и активиста «Крымской солидарности». Его обвиняли в нарушении карантина во время съемки приговора крымским татарам. 27.01.2021 Россия превращается в государство дрессуры. Сергей Шелин, 7.04.2021 Время темного лорда: как работают репрессии. Кирилл Рогов, 28.04.2021 Раздача Страха. Юрий Самодуров, правозащитник, бывший директор Музея и общественного центра им. А. Д. Сахарова: «…репрессии вероятно станут более жестокими, драконовскими и более массовыми.» 28.04.2021, Власть из трех букв. Государство перешло в новое агрегатное состояние — террор ФСБ. Грабить и сажать будут всех. 1.05.2021 .«Конвейерная модель репрессий»: правозащитники о крымских обысках и задержаниях. Елена Ремовская, 18.02.2021, Russia scales back troops, not its escalation of repression in occupied Crimea. Halya Coynash, 23.04.2021
Show all