#LIBERATECRIMEA activists call on Ukrainian MPs to take patronage over Kremlin prisoners

February 10, 2021

On Friday, December 11, activists of the international movement for the de-occupation of Crimea and solidarity with the Crimean Tatar people #LIBERATECRIMEA held an online presentation of the campaign “MP, help the prisoners of the Kremlin!”. The event was joined by the former political prisoners, MPs of Ukraine, representatives of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, human rights defenders, activists and journalists.

Eskender Bariiev, Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, a member of  Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, noted that today, according to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, 114 people are being held in jails and prisons in Crimea and Russia. According to him, #LIBERATECRIMEA activists have sent letters to the MPs of Ukraine urging them to take patronage over political prisoners. For this, Ukrainian parliamentarians are invited to:

1. Publicly (at a press conference, via the Facebook page, Twitter, etc.) and by December 20, 2020, declare that one of the Kremlin's captives has been taken under a patronage;

2. Make public statements about this political prisoner at least once a month;

3. Apply to the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and other state competent authorities with a request to intensify the issue of releasing the Crimean prisoners of the Kremlin;

4. Provide legal, political, informational, material and other types of assistance to the prisoners and their families;

5. Attract colleagues from parliaments of other countries to take patronage over their wards;

6. Apply to the Trilateral Contact Group with a request to include their charges on the exchange list;

7. Carry out legislative activity aimed at ensuring the protection of the rights of political prisoners in the Kremlin;

8. Conduct other public events aimed at protecting the rights of political prisoners in the Kremlin;

9. Political patronage does not mean financial assistance.

Bariiev added that on December 21, #LIBERATECRIMEA will hold a press conference at which it will inform the public about the joining of Ukrainian MPs to the campaign “MP, help the prisoners of the Kremlin."

Former political prisoners Oleh Sentsov and Edem Bekirov spoke at the event.

“Our task is to make the names of political prisoners known, as this protects them in the colony and promotes their release. We must talk about all these people, and the names of Kuku or the Abdullaev brothers, Dudka or Vyhivsky must be widely known. If our MPs take personal patronage over these people, it will be a good job, since they have more opportunity to talk about it at all levels”,- Oleh Sentsov said.

“This action is necessary for all the prisoners of the Kremlin, and I would urge not only the MPs of the Verkhovna Rada to support this initiative, but also the deputies of the regional councils. It is necessary to make every effort to make this campaign broad in nature”,- Edem Bekirov said.

According to Oliver Loode, coordinator of the international movement #LIBERATECRIMEA, one of the main goals of the campaign is to restore the freedom of Kremlin prisoners, and, according to him, it supports the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“I think that Ukrainian MPs in this process can have a key role as people who can shape the political and public agenda in Ukraine. Their positive example and moral leadership can inspire MPs around the world to join this campaign, for example, MEPs, Bundestag, US Congress and others”,- said Oliver Loode.

Mumine Saliieva, the wife of political prisoner Seyran Saliiev, noted that over the past six years, Crimean Tatars have been living under constant pressure from the de facto authorities on ethnic, religious and political grounds, and spoke about different episodes from the history of 200 children of political prisoners in Crimea.

“Crimean political prisoners are a list of specific names, and if the MPs and the political elite in general become a voice, media, legal and political support for one political prisoner from this list, then it will undoubtedly come to life and cease to be a painful story about unknown names or a mass grave in Russian prisons and colonies. This will be protection from torture and pressure, as well as confidence that they are not forgotten”,- said Mumine Saliieva.

Alla Makukh, head of the Berehynia NGO, spoke about the fate of the prisoners in the East of Ukraine and noted that it is necessary to give maximum publicity to political prisoners and prisoners.

Rustem Umerov, MP of Ukraine, noted that coordination of international efforts for the release of Ukrainian political prisoners is one of the primary tasks of the previously created inter-factional parliamentary association Crimean Platform. The parliamentarian stressed that as part of the Platform's work, he will take care of all political prisoners in order to support this initiative.

Refat Chubarov, head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, stressed the importance of initiating the campaign “MP, help the prisoners of the Kremlin!” and expressed confidence that this campaign will not only expand, but also acquire new incentives and signals.

“I, as the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, am ready to maximize the involvement of our all opportunities, so that this initiative becomes not only noticeable in the Ukrainian society, but also as effective as possible”,-  said Refat Chubarov.