Ruslan Zeytullaev


builder, civic activist


Emil Kurbedinov


Parts One and Two of Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an organization recognized as ‘terrorist’ in Russia, namely the local cell of the Islamic Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami)

Date of capture:

Jan. 23, 2015


15 years in penal colony

Mailing address:

Zeytullaev Ruslan Borisovich (born 1985), penal colony #2, Republic of Bashkortostan, Salavat, Yuzhny Station 453256, Russia

days in custody

Ruslan Zeytullaev was born in Tashkent on June 15, 1985. He resided in Orlyne (a part of the city of Sevastopol). He is a father of three young daughters. Ruslan was engaged in the intensive public activity.

In January 2015, FSB operatives conducted a search in Zeytullaev’s house. As an outcome, they confiscated all the kinds of data carriers (computers, CDs, and USB flash drives). Ruslan himself was arrested and accused of organizing the activity of the Islamic Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami) in the villages of Orlyne, Tylove, and Shturmove (Sevastopol’s Balaklava district).

Ruslan has not pled guilty and refused to witness against himself during the investigation.

Prior to his arrest, Ruslan represented himself as a human rights defender. He believes he was targeted because of defending the rights of the fellow residents of his district.

On September 7, 2016, a military court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced Ruslan Zeytullaev to 7 years in penal colony. In July 2017, after the retrial, the Russian Supreme Court found him “guilty” of “organizing a terrorist community” and increased the prison term to 15 years.

Exculpatory evidence:

The criminal case of Ruslan Zeytullaev and Ferat Sayfullaev (another Crimean Muslim from Sevastopol) was based on the reports of a former Ukrainian security officer Kozhemyaka who betrayed his oath and is now in Russian service. He started submitting them right after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

The conflict between the future defendants and Kozhemyaka started back in 2012 and resulted from the corruption schemes of the local security authorities. Crimean Tatar community was allocated a plot for building a mosque. According to the lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, the security officers, including Kozhemyaka, also laid a claim to the plot. This suggests that Kozhemyaka had a personal motivation to accuse those Crimean Muslims.

Multiple violations took place in the course of the investigation:

  • The court hearings regarding the extension of the preventive measure to Zeytullaev were not transparent. The audience was barred from entering the courtroom under various pretexts.
  • The court violated the Zeytullaev’s right for defense by denying the presence of a public defender at the court hearings along with the lawyer.
  • The court denied the access of the defense to the case materials that substantiated the prolongation of the detention term.
  • The court dismissed the application of the defense on the disqualification of the judge filed on the basis of the abovementioned facts that point at his direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the case.
  • The investigator did not provide the lawyer and the defendant with copies of the case materials. Thereby they were deprived of the possibility to file a relevant complaint and other rights guaranteed by Russian and international law.
  • The investigator dismissed the application of the defense on the disqualification of the expert on the basis of his incompetence and bias.
  • The investigation has kept secret the locations of the expertises, which contradicts Russia’s procedural law.