Legal Case of the Week: Lilia Budzhurova

posted 6 Jun 2016, 09:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 09:26 ]
On 31 May 2016 the deputy prosecutor in Simferopol, Aleksandr Shkitov, issued a formal warning to Crimean Tatar journalist Lilia Budzhurova for alleged extremism. The warning concerned an appeal published by Lilia Budzhurova to support the children of detainees in Crimea. The warning, three-pages long, set out the laws she allegedly breached, described her appeal as 'propaganda and agitation aimed at arousing ethnic or religious hatred and enmity,' and pointed out that Budzhurova had already been issued with a warning in 2014 when she was director general of the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR (which Russian authorities subsequently closed down in Crimea). The warning says that Budzhurova will face prosecution if she fails to comply with the warning of ‘extremism’. 

As Halya Coynash, writing in Human Rights in Ukraine, reports: 

'Lilia Budzhurova received a formal warning of “the inadmissibility of extremist activities” 6 days after writing a moving appeal to show solidarity and support for children whose fathers are in custody in Russian-occupied Crimea on fabricated charges. The 3-page opus from the Simferopol prosecutor’s office cites her article ‘Now these are our children’ and posts on Facebook, and suggests that these contain “extremist utterances” and “publications which could incite ethnic and religious hatred and enmity”. The prosecutor clearly preferred not to quote the article which doubtless prompted this warning and instead cites a Facebook post from April 2. In the latter, Budzhurova asks “when this will all end” and suggests that they will soon be grabbing Crimean Tatars off the street, and notes that this is only a half-step away from making them wear a yellow armband.'

Halya Coynash notes that Budzhurova was responding to an armed raid on a café outside Simferopol that took place on 31 March during which at least 35 Crimean Tatars were taken to the so-called Centre for Combatting Extremism and held for approximately four hours. 'They were not questioned about any crime,' she points out, 'yet all those detained had their fingerprints and DNA samples taken.

In her article on children, Lilia Budzhurova stated: "There are 18 Crimean Muslims behind bars at present, 17 of them Crimean Tatars. I will not write about how the criminal cases against them were fabricated. A lot has been written about this, and obvious facts don’t need confirmation. I want to speak of something else. [...] Crimean Tatars have never abandoned a child in need. For our people there are no alien children. They are now OUR CHILDREN. And our shared national duty, our duty as Muslims – to help them grow and develop while their fathers are deprived of that possibility.”

Photo: Human Rights in Ukraine

Halya Coynash, 'Crimean Tatar journalist accused of ’extremism’ & incitement for call to help children,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 1 June 2016