Kirill Koroteev: "The members of the Mejlis are in danger"

posted 8 Oct 2016, 11:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 17 Oct 2016, 01:54 ]
30 September 2016

Source:  [original source: ОVD-Info]

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has dismissed an appeal against a decision by a lower court to designate the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars as an extremist organization. Кirill Koroteev, senior lawyer at the Memorial Human Rights Centre, who has been representing the Mejlis, comments on the decision.

“In principle, this was a fairly typical appeal hearing, although there were a number of peculiarities. From early morning there were police outside the Supreme Court. We were in the large courtroom, and the panel of three judges who heard the appeal had only this case for the whole day (usually the three judges hear dozens of appeals in a row).

“One of the judges gave a long report on the case: what arguments the prosecution had, the basis for the decision of the court in Crimea, the bases and arguments for the appeal. As the side that had lodged the appeal, we spoke first (myself and my colleague from Memorial Human Rights Centre Marina Agaltsova), showing that the Mejlis is a representative, democratic body, and not a non-governmental organization; that the claim to recognize such a body as extremist cannot be brought; that its activities cannot be considered extremist; and so on.

“After the break the prosecution put its case, reading out some of their written review of our complaint and a little of the prosecution’s own suit (including arguments that had not been accepted by the court in Crimea, for example concerning the events of 26 February 2014).

“Least of all was said by the State Committee on the Affairs of Inter-ethnic Relations and Deported Peoples of the Republic of Crimea, whose lawyer talked about how wonderful life was for the Crimean Tatars now and how bad it was under Ukraine (and how they’re going to build the biggest mosque in the world).

“The court withdrew for an hour and then pronounced only the short summary of the judgment: the earlier decision is left in force, the appeal is dismissed.

“So far as the consequences are concerned: membership of an extremist organization is a crime under Russian law. This means that the 33 members of the Mejlis are in danger, and local law enforcement bodies can now extend the prosecution to members of the regional and local mejlis bodies, in which case the repressions would affect hundreds of people.”