Who is Ahtem Chiygoz? Story of Crimean Tatar political prisoner

Author : Mykola Murskyj

20:14, 29 July 2016

Who is Ahtem Chiygoz? Story of Crimean Tatar political prisoner

Author : Mykola Murskyj

First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis: Chiygoz was an “exponential” victim. Do not stick your heads out, otherwise your fate would be the same

20:14, 29 July 2016

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The case which lasts for years

Ahtem Chiygoz was arrested on January 29, 2015 in the case of “February 26.” That day he came to the State Investigative Committee in Crimea for questioning, and in the evening illegitimate "Kyiv District Court of Simferopol" convicted him to three months of detention.

Chiygoz was imputed to the 1st part of the 212th article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - the organization of mass disorders accompanied by violence and destruction of property.

Related: France's MPs arrive in occupied Crimea

Russia accuses activists of being involved in “riots” on February 26, 2014, which arose near the Crimean parliament during the meetings, one carried by the supporters of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, another – by the activists of the party ‘Russian Unity’.

Since the arrest of Chiygoz, the Crimean "courts" has been periodically prolonging his detention (the last time - until October 8, 2016).

In the period from 8 to 11 March 2016, Chiygoz was a hostage; the so-called judge of "Crimean Supreme Court of Justice" Galina Redko voluntarily (out of the court) extended his detention period.

In addition to Chiygoz, another Crimean Tatars are charged with participation in these riots: Asanov Ali, Mustafa Degermendzhi, Eskender Kantemirov, Arsene Yunusov, and Eskender Emirvaliev.

Related: Pyatt: Crimea is Ukraine

The first two have been in custody for over a year. Another two, Eskender Nebiev and Talat Yunusov are already convicted and sentenced to probation.

In February 2016, two years after the events, "the court" decided to re-investigate the case. Chiygoz, Asanov, and Degermendzhi were forced to remain in custody.

July 20, the preliminary hearing began, but us was closed to the public. "Supreme Court" of Crimea proposed to “divide” the case and judge Chiygoz separately from the other defendants.

There are 80 victims and witnesses; the case could drag on for years. The court usually questions one-two witnesses a day,” says one of Chiygoz’s lawyers Emil Kurbedinov.

An alien land

Russian prosecutors accuse Ahtem Chiygoz in activities that were carried out in Ukraine, by the Ukrainian citizen against other Ukrainian citizens. Russian prosecutors calls to account only of the Crimean Tatars.

The prosecution is trying to explain the right of the Russian justice system to react on the February 26 rally, which was allegedly directed against Russian interests. The prosecutor general says that "Russian Unity" had a special permission for holding a rally, and the Mejlis did not have such a document.

Related: Chubarov: Russia clearly shows Crimea is now military foothold

In addition to violence during the riots, Chiygoz is accused of destruction of property.

"Some unidentified representatives of the Crimean Tatars rushed into the Crimean Parliament, damaged and destroyed its property on the sum of 9730 rubles," as said in one of the “court” regulations. However, few hours after the incident, the armed Russians have blocked themselves in the Crimean Parliament, and also damaged the property.

Why Chiygoz?

Ahtem Chiygoz first took moderately radical position. "The prosecutor's office" called him a man "in charge of the Mejlis power bloc." In winter 2014, he became openly express quite a radical position that we should not recognize anything,” noted First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis Nariman Jalal.

In fact, Chiygoz’s position coincides with the opinion of Ilmi Umerov, who is known as an experienced, fairly moderate politician. Politician Ilmi Umerov is very close to Chiygoz. They both belong to the Bakhchisarai wing of Mejlis.

In 2014, we organized many pickets, along the roads, near the military units. Ahtem was actively involved in the organization of these events,” - says Umerov.

Chiygoz was warned about preventing the "extremist activity," and some people even complain about him to the Russian FSB. However, Chiygoz did not stop his activity, and a month before his arrest, he attended a meeting between Crimean leaders Dzhemilev and Chubarov and President Poroshenko.

Related: Google Maps decomunized Crimea

In 2014, two Crimean Tatar leaders Dzhemilev and Chubarov were not allowed to enter Crimea. “Chubarov had five deputies, and Ahtem was the main one,” Umerov explains.

Dzhemilev and Chubarov were refused in entry in Crimea as a part of Russian plan. Mejlis should be headed by a collaborator. And Ahtem Chiygoz was the main obstacle for implementation of this plan.

Russians believed that Chiygoz encourages them to some rebellion.  That is why they decided to remove him. At the same time Chiygoz was an “exponential” victim: do not stick your heads out, otherwise your fate would be the same,” underlines Nariman Jalal.

Related: Chubarov comments on the liquidation of "the Crimean Federal District"

But the plans on the incorporation of the Mejlis have failed. “It was a miscalculation. They thought Chiygoz is a kind of central link. They failed to realize that the majority of the members of the Mejlis are standing on the same position as Chiygoz; they did not want to be incorporated,” adds the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis.

Chiygoz called upon all Crimean Tatars to harshly boycott compatriots that cooperate with the occupying power.

“Different challenges befell our people. And we deal with them with an honor! No one can break us with the prisons or camps! We are not afraid of searches and arrests! None of those puppets would fool us! Crimea will always be with the Crimean Tatars," Chiygoz wrote from the prison.

And his name is etched in gold in the history of Crimea.

Related: Crimean Tatars hold demonstration near Russian embassy in Kyiv

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