Virtual museum of Russian aggression.

Virtual museum of Russian aggression.



The Crimean Solidarity phenomenon

When you go to the site of the Crimean Solidarity or their Facebook page, you see their coat of arms: a white and blue shield with a tower, sky and Crimean mountains. The entrance to the tower is grated; it is a symbol of a prison. The shield symbolizes the essence of the CS: protection of people from oppression and repression by the occupation authorities.

The CS operates in three main areas: social, legal and media. They are impressively successful in all three, fully justifying the keyword in the name of the organization. The feeling of solidarity and constant, real and targeted assistance makes it possible to physically survive for the families of the repressed Crimeans who have to endure extreme hardship after the arrest of a husband, father, brother, son... No less important is the feeling of moral and spiritual support, unity in trouble, which helps not to give up, gives the strength to carry on, never yielding to despair. Through active educational work done by the CS people are becoming increasingly aware of their legal rights and laws, better prepared for the ordeal of searches or detentions.

The CS holds monthly conferences to discuss and analyze these aspects of its day-to-day activities. One of the major strengths of the CS is its distributed structure based on horizontal networking, which means the absence of a single recognized leader whose elimination could paralyze the activity of the entire movement. At the same time, having a number of coordinators and a powerful team of lawyers, the CS is able to respond to constant challenges in a flexible and prompt manner, thus gaining strength and popularity.

Over the years that have passed since the lawyers first met with the families of the victims in April 2016, the Crimean Solidarity has grown into a powerful movement well known not only in Crimea and mainland Ukraine [7], but also far beyond. The CS convenes its conferences on the last Saturday of every month. The first conference was attended by only 15 persons, the third one - by 40, but every conference thereafter drew hundreds of people, and the halls proved to be too small to accommodate everyone wishing to attend.

"I am already convinced that one will be replaced by another. Ten were arrested - a hundred came out "

Server Mustafayev, one of the coordinators of the CS

Regular meeting: agenda

On 01/27/2018 the meeting was held in Sudak. Over 200 participants from Simferopol, Bakhchisarai, Yalta and all over Crimea turned up. Traditionally, these were lawyers, relatives of political prisoners (some with children), Crimean activists and journalists, with their telephones, cameras and tripods, as well as sympathizers wishing to take part and help in some way. The well-known Russian journalist Anton Naumlyuk who devotes a lot of his reports to the topics of the occupied Crimea and the Crimean Tatars also attended this meeting.

This was the first CS conference in 2018 and the twenty-second from its inception. All participants were happy to meet like-minded people, everyone was in high spirits, but at the same time businesslike. Coordinator Server Mustafayev announced the agenda: discussion of the latest political trials, performance of public defenders who represent the interests of those detained at the pickets, the next stage of the Crimean Marathon (raising funds for those fined), helping children and families of the repressed [1]. After the joint prayer, the meeting began with speeches by the lawyers.

The first to speak was the prominent civil lawyer Emil Kurbedinov [2]. He had barely enough time to tell about the trial of the Yalta Six – six Crimean Muslims accused of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir who were taken to Rostov to face a trial by a military court, and give updates on the Veciye Qaşqa trial. [3]. The meeting was suddenly interrupted...


Enforced disappearances in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol


Invasion of the police

Local activist Ruslan Belyalov entered the hall and interrupted the lawyer: "Please stay calm, but police vans are coming to us." Masked armed riot policemen were first seen peeking into the windows, and then they came inside and lined up along the walls [4]. At the same time, policemen and officers of the Center for Combating Extremism (so-called Center E), appeared through the side doors, also wearing masks, but the attendees recognized them. Even a dog handler arrived with a service shepherd. When asked by attorneys to explain the purpose of the visit, a police officer not too confidently referred to some anonymous call about suspicious people gathering in this room with bags that might contain weapons.

However, the behavior of the police actually refuted this version. They immediately began ordering everyone to produce their IDs. The participants were photographed, and there were no attempt to even imitate any searches for weapons or other prohibited items. In return, public journalists actively set about filming the security officials and the police officers. The participants showed no reaction to the intrusion and tried to continue the meeting. The invaders appeared perplexed and irritated by this kind of behavior. They blocked the doors and threatened that no one would be let out without showing their IDs [5]. This was the first (but not the last) time that the police invaded a peaceful assembly on a private territory.

Peaceful solution to a critical situation

After a brief conversation, the attorneys decided to make certain concessions and the attendees started coming one after another with their IDs, however flatly rejecting the demands to make any statements, referring to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The policemen started letting people out, however stopping again at the exit to re-check and to take pictures of their IDs.

In the evening, almost all the participants were out, but some journalists and the attorney Lilya Gemeci remained inside. She had an interesting conversation with a policeman:

"Are you going to provide any explanations?", asked the policeman.

"About what?", asked the human rights activist.

"Well, the reason for our arrival," a man wearing a police winter hat replied vaguely.

"So why did you come then?", Gemeci inquired.

"This is what we are trying to find out!" exclaimed the policeman, and everyone broke out in a happy laughter.

Instead of an explanation, Lilya and the other attorneys drafted a complaint, describing violations, specifically referring to Article 5 (unreasonable detention) and Article 11 (peaceful assemblies) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: "I have recorded the fact that we were unlawfully interrogated here today. We were unlawfully held here against our will for over four hours. I also wrote about this in the explanation. In my opinion, this was an attempt to intimidate myself and everybody else in attendance here. And no one had the right to ask us about the purpose of our gathering here. This is all contrary to the law" [6].

"I have recorded the fact that the poll conducted here today is illegal. That we were illegally kept here for more than four hours against our will. I also wrote about this in the explanation. I consider it a method of intimidation against myself and all those who came here. And no one had the right to ask us about the purpose for which we gathered here. It's all against the law. "

Lily Gemeji


The above episode is just a part of one day in the life of the Crimean Solidarity, and it does not reveal the full scale of its activities but evidences the endurance and confidence acquired by its members.

In addition to continuing and intensifying open repressions [8] against the members of the Crimean Solidarity, the occupation authorities are looking for more means to intimidate its participants as much as possible and to discourage others from participating in its activities and providing support [9].

However, as far as the CS is concerned, the repressive machine failed to reach its goal, and in fact suffered a defeat: on the same day, human rights activist Abdureşit Cepparov made a statement that the activists did not intend to stop their meetings due to the increased attention from the Russian security forces [10]. No further harassment, searches, arrests, incredibly harsh sentences with prison terms of up to 20 years imposed on people who did not commit any crime would break the CS. On the contrary, the number of activists and the level of support continue to grow. Says one of the coordinators of the CS Server Mustafayev, "It is now clear to me there will always be others ready to carry on the cause. Arrest ten men - a hundred will come out" [11]. The fate of Mustafayev himself is quite telling: on 05/21/2018, i.e. a few months after this interview, his house was searched and the activist was arrested. In addition to the standard accusations of participation in the activities of a terrorist organization (Part 2 Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), one more charge was brought against him on 02/22/2019: a violent coup conspiracy (Article 278 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). On 09/16/2020, a military court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced the human rights activist to 14 years in a maximum security facility [12].

But even after the large-scale attack on the CS on March 27 and 28, 2019 [13], yet another assembly convened in the overcrowded hall on 03/31/2019. The assembly made the following statements: "The Crimean Solidarity stands for the Crimean Tatar people and all those who join the peaceful resistance in Crimea. Our 24 friends, brothers, colleagues are not with us today. But tens and hundreds of people came instead." (Mumina Salieva). "... Solidarity means dozens coming to take the place of one arrested person. And if something else happens in Crimea, I know for sure: the people will come out in support." (Alexandra Krylenkova ). The CS, initiated by the Crimean Tatars, who had their own strong traditions within the movement for repatriation from the places of deportation, turned into the main center of peaceful resistance to the occupation, gradually drawing in and consolidating all other dissidents.

At present, the investigative department of the Main Directorate of the National Police of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol is carrying out a pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings on the counts of illegal detention and violation of the right to private life and home on the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimean peninsula committed against public activists of the Crimean Solidarity Seyran Saliev, Enver Seytosmanov Server Mustafayev, Ernest Seytosmanov, and Edem Smailov as constituting criminal offenses under Articles 146, 162 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.


With its developed network of public journalists, bloggers and streamers, the CS has become the main source of information about violations of human rights and freedoms in Crimea – the information that is further used by the Ukrainian authorities, professional Ukrainian and foreign journalists, and by international organizations. Prompt publicity, video and photo coverage of each new repressive action in some cases can help defend justice and prevent brutality. Successful self-organization of peaceful resistance, instant mobilization in everyday resistance and real support by courageous Crimeans for all those who need it, turned the Crimean Solidarity into a powerful community capable of effectively resisting the repressive occupation regime.

The CS phenomenon is, indeed, unique in the history of nonviolent resistance movements. In just a few years, the CS has received recognition and gained popularity that no other similar movement in the modern world could match. In December 2019, the Crimean Solidarity was specifically mentioned in a UN General Assembly Resolution [14], which is a very rare phenomenon. The Crimean Solidarity is referred to, cited, and written about by the world's most prestigious media.

Background information

Ethnic persecution in Crimea

"... Solidarity is when dozens take the place of one arrested person. And if something else happens in Crimea, I know for sure: people will support. "

Alexandra Krilenkova

Published on 2021-09-01

Natalya Belitser

Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy


Кримська дійсність vs «Кримська солідарність». Антон Наумлюк, 29.01.2018 Crimean Tatar rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov wins major human rights award. Halya Coynash, 26.05.2017. У Криму йде спецоперація проти Меджлісу - Чубаров. Укрінформ Окупанти увірвались на засідання кримськотатарського громадського руху. 27.01.2018, Безправ'я за дзвінком: як російські силовики перевіряли засідання «Кримської солідарності». Тетяна Курманова, 30.01.2018. Crimean Tatar political prisoner jailed for Crimea Solidarity named Ukraine’s Volunteer of the Year. By Halya Coynash, 02.12.2017 Все задержанные сегодня оккупантами крымские татары в Бахчисарае - члены организации, помогающей семьям политзаключенных, - Смедляев. 11.10.17 Силовики на засіданні «Кримської солідарності» в Судаку хотіли «погрузити всіх у автозаки» – очевидець. 27.01.2018, Активісти «Кримської солідарності» продовжать збиратися, не зважаючи на увагу силовиків – правозахисник. 27.01.2018, Сервер Мустафаєв: про «Кримський марафон», мирний протест і солідарність кримських татар. Ілля Тарасов, 21.02.2018, У Криму на три тижні заарештували кримськотатарського активіста Мустафаєва. 22.05.2018 У Ростові-на-Дону затримано активістів "Кримської солідарності", 28.03.19 Резолюція «Ситуація з правами людини в Автономній Республіці Крим та місті Севастополь, Україна» була ухвалена на пленарному засіданні ГА ООН 18.12.2019. «Кримська солідарність» - веб-сайт «Кримська солідарність» - Facebook
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