Urgent Interventions

Ukraine/Russia: Arbitrary detention of indigenous rights defender Nariman Dzhelyal


RUS 004 / 0921 / OBS 095
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Ukraine / Russian Federation
September 14, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Crimea, Ukrainian region being occupied by the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Nariman Dzhelyal, an indigenous and minority rights defender and the first deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People[1].

On September 4, 2021, at 7:30 am, members of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) conducted a search in the car and apartment of Nariman Dzhelyal in the village of Pervomaiske, in the Russian-occupied Crimea. During the search, his laptop and mobile phone were seized. Nariman Dzhelyal was subsequently arrested and taken to an unknown location by a civilian car without registration plates. His wife and lawyer were not informed about his place of detention. Nariman Dzhelyal was placed in the basement of the unknown building, where he was interrogated, handcuffed and blindfolded by unknown individuals. He was subsequently subjected to a lie detector test.

In the evening of the same day, he was transferred to the FSB building in the city of Simferopol, where he was interrogated without the presence of his lawyer. He spent the night in a small cell without a bed and was not given food.

On September 5, 2021, Nariman Dzhelyal’s lawyer was allowed to visit his client. Upon the lawyer’s request, the interrogations stopped and the defender was brought to a temporary detention facility in Simferopol, where he was given food and clean clothes.

On September 6, the Kiev district court of Simferopol ordered Nariman Dzhelyal’s pre-trial detention until November 4, 2021 on charges of “sabotage” (part 1 of Article 281 of the Criminal Code of Russia) brought against him by the FSB. Nariman Dzhelyal pleaded not guilty and stated that his prosecution relates to his public activities in defence of the rights of the Crimean Tatars. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Nariman Dzhelyal remained detained at the temporary detention facility of Simferopol.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention of Nariman Dzhelyal and underlines that four other Crimean Tatars were arbitrarily detained, disappeared and held incommunicado between September 3 and 4, 2021. Two of them were also subsequently charged with “sabotage”. Moreover, there are testimonies that other detainees were tortured to get their confessions. Following their arbitrary arrests, more than 60 people gathered at the FSB building in Simferopol to request information. 58 of them were in turn arrested and charged with administrative offences for “unlawful gathering and disobedience to the police” and were subsequently released. They will face trials that will consider these administrative cases.

The Observatory recalls that since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, Crimean Tatars and those who defend their rights have been targeted by the Russian authorities, including through enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, judicial harassment and arbitrary searches[2].

The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nariman Dzhelyal, to drop all charges against him and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders and organisations in Crimea.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Nariman Dzhelyal and all other human rights defenders in Crimea;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Nariman Dzhelyal as his detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at intimidating him and diverting him from his legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee Nariman Dzhelyal’s unhindered access to his family members and to a lawyer of his own or his family’s choosing;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Nariman Dzhelyal and all other human rights defenders in Crimea, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.


  • Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
  • Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
  • Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail:
  • Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation,
  • Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS),
  • Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail:
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail:
  • Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, September 14, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

[1] The Mejlis is the self-governing institution of the Crimean Tatar people, the largest indigenous group in Ukraine. On September 29, 2016, the Russian Supreme Court banned the activities of the Mejlis in Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea after declaring it an “extremist organisation”. This prohibition was part of the ongoing repressive measures taken against the Crimean Tatar people since Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014. On April 19, 2017, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the Russian Federation to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis, but no measures were taken.

[2] See Report of the United Nations Secretary General on the Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, published on August 2, 2021.