part 1 of Art.282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organising the activities of an extremist organisation)
October 2, 2017
4 years of imprisonment and 1 year of restriction of liberty
days in custody
Renat Suleymanov, 48, was arrested on 2 October 2017 together with three other Crimean Tatars who are accused of being part of the Tablighi Jamaat movement. Masked men carried out searches in his home earlier in the morning -in the village of Molodezhnoe- before taking him to FSB’s facilities. At the same time, Russian state-controlled media reported that the FSB had dismantled three cells of Tablighi Jamaat in Crimea. Since his detention, Renat was kept under arrest in the Simferopol remand prison. Renat is married and has three children.
Tablighi Jamaat is banned in Russia and considered an “extremist” organisation following a 2009 Russian Supreme Court’s decision.
On 22 January 2019, the de facto Supreme Court of Crimea delivered its decision. Renat Suleymanov was recognized guilty and sentenced to four years of imprisonment and a year of restriction of personal liberty.
No clear evidence has been provided by the investigation to support the accusation that the group of four men -Talyat Abdurakhmanov, Arsen Kubedinov, Seyran Mustafaev and Renat Suleymanov- are part of this organisation. Instead, Suleymanov’s lawyer Edem Semedlyaev reported that the detainees were forced to cooperate with the de facto investigators in exchange of milder sentence. He also informed that his client had been wiretapped by the Russian security forces as an expertise of his voice was carried out shortly after his arrest.
Moreover, on the day of their arrest, a representative of the Russian Crimean Muftiat visited the detainees in FSB’s facilities and proposed his help if they confessed their guilt and agreed to state-appointed lawyers.
The main evidence during the trial was the audio of the conversation between the accused, which was wiretapped secretly by the security forces. In this conversation they discuss general issues regarding religion and do not address any extremist, violent, or illegal issues. The linguistic expertise was biased and manipulative. During the trial, Renat recognized that he is involved in the Tablighi Jamaat movement, however he denied any involvement in extremist or other illegal activities.
The anti-extremist legislation has been used in Russia to justify political persecution, especially against Crimean Tatars and Muslims. The transnational Tablighi Jamaat movement, which activity is mostly based on proselytism (“da’wa” which corresponds to the religious mission), is a non-radical and apolitical group. It focuses on replicating Muhammad’s lifestyle through a strict dress code and religious practices and on the promotion of missionary tours (“khuruj”) to spread the faith.
- Kharkiv human rights group: New weapon of religious persecution and arrests in Russian-occupied Crimea
- United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: Inventing Extremists: The Impact of Russian Anti-Extremism Policies on Freedom of Religion or Belief
- EuromaidanPress: Four Crimean Tatars detained in new wave of religious persecution