Front Line Defenders (FLD) expresses its grave concern at the increased targeting against human rights lawyers in the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Since the beginning of the occupation, human rights lawyers actively involved in representation and defence of rights of the Crimean Tatars became one of the major targets for the Russian authorities.
Since May 26, human rights defenders and lawyers Edem Semedliaev, Aider Azamatov, Nazim Sheikhmambetov and woman lawyer Emine Awamileva– have been detained and arrested on various administrative charges.
The targeting and systemic persecution of human rights lawyers by the Russian Federal Security Services forms part of a worrying trend in Crimea since its annexation in 2014. This systemic persecution includes judicial harassment, office raids, disciplinary penalties, and disbarment threats.
Another prominent Crimean human rights defender and lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, was repeatedly sentenced to short-term detentions in 2017 and 2018 for publishing Hizb-ut Tahrir related materials on his social media pages. Shortly after Emil Kurbedinov was arrested in 2017, Russian Federal Security Services raided his and Edem Semedliaev’s office and seized various personal and professional items belonging to them.
Another prominent Crimean woman human rights defender and lawyer, Lilia Gemedzy, faced a disciplinary punishment for “repeated violation of the Court hearing regulations” in 2020. In 2021, Russian authorities subjected Edem Semedliaev to judicial harassment, charging him for a refusal to undress in the police search for “extremist tattoos” on his body.
Front Line Defenders believes they are being solely targeted as a result of their legitimate and non-violent work as a human rights lawyer. The targeting and systemic persecution of human rights lawyers by the Russian Authorities forms part of a worrying trend in Crimea since its annexation in 2014.
This systemic persecution includes sustained judicial prosecution, office raids, disciplinary penalties, and disbarment threats. FLD urges the Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial levels, against all human rights defenders and organisations in Crimea.