Paris-Geneva, December 6, 2018 - Today, officials of the Center for Extremism Prevention arrested Crimean human rights defender and winner of the2017 Front Line Defenders Award for symbolic speech Mr. Emil Kurbedinov. The defender, arrested for making a post on Facebook, is charged with propaganda of symbols of extremist organizations and faces a fine of up to two thousand rubles or administrative arrest for up to 15 days.
Today, Mr. Emil Kurbedinov was arrested on his way from home to the office and transported to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Crimea and Sevastopol. He was charged with violating Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code of Russian Federation - public dissemination of a symbol belonging to an ‘extremist’ organization on his Facebook page and faces up to 15 days in prison and a fine. He is currently awaiting trial in the Kievskyi district Court of Simferopol.
The basis for Mr. Kurbedinov’s arrest was a 2013 Facebook post containing a photo of a Simferopol rally of “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, a religious organization banned in Russia (but legal in Ukraine), where flags allegedly linked to the organization were displayed. On 26 January 2017, Kurbedinov had been already tried for posting the same content, albeit on another social networking site, Vkontakte, and served a 10-day sentence on these identical charges.
“This arrest is absurd and unlawful. Arresting someone for a post containing symbolic speech, published 5 years ago, demonstrates that the Russian authorities are going out of their way. ”, stated Dimitris Christopoulos, President of the FIDH.
“Not only the Kurbedinov’s arrest is a blatant violation of the freedom of expression, it is a retaliation for his human rights work. We call on the Russian Federation to immediately release him and put an end to all form of judicial harassment against him” added Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the OMCT.
On 6 November 2018, Mr. Kurbedinov received a warning about "preventing extremist activities" in his office in Simferopol, Crimea. This warning was given to him by a representative of the Crimean Prosecutor's Office who was accompanied by several men in masks.
Winner of the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, Mr. Kurbedinov is a human rights lawyer who openly denounces human rights violations in Crimea. Since the annexation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation, he has been actively involved in the defence of Crimean Tatars. He notably spoke out about the exiled Mejlis (Parliament of the Tatar people) leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, and supports civil society activists, journalists, and Crimean Muslims suspected of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir. More recently, Kurbedinov became an attorney for one of the Ukrainian sailors arrested during the conflict in the Kerch Strait.