Part 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)
23 January 2015
5 years in general regime penal colony. Released on 22 January 2020 due to the expiration of his prison term; however, Vaitov must now remain under administrative surveillance for 8 years.
Rustem Vaitov was born in the Crimean village of Krestyanivka on July 27, 1986. He graduated from the National Academy of Nature Protection and Resort Development in Simferopol. He resided in Sevastopol with his wife and child until his arrest.
Vaitov describes himself as a public figure. He was engaged in an intense public activity, took part in the organization and carrying out of various events, including the renovation of a mosque in Sevastopol. He has a lot of friends and acquaintances of different confessions and ethnic origins.
In January 2015, FSB operatives conducted a search in Vaitov’s house. As an outcome, they confiscated all the kinds of data carriers (computers, CDs and USB flash drives). Rustem himself was arrested and accused of participating in 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).
Rustem has not pled guilty and refused to witness against himself during the investigation.
On 7 September 2016, the North Caucasus District Military Court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced him to 5 years in a general regime penal colony. He was released on 22 January 2020 due to the expiration of his prison term. However, Ruslan Zeytullaev, who was accused of being the “cell’s” leader, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and remains behind bars.
Photos of Vaitov’s liberation are below.
Multiple violations took place in the course of the investigation:
- The court hearings regarding the extension of the preventive measure to Vaitov were not transparent. The audience was barred from entering the courtroom under various pretexts.
- The court violated the Vaitov’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.
According to the independent Russian human rights media project OVD-info, members of the organization’s cells are accused and sentenced to various terms in a maximum-security colony only on the basis of meeting in apartments and reading religious literature.
According to the Memorial Human Rights Center, this wave of persecution in Russia began on 14 February 2003, when the Russian Supreme Court, having examined in a closed court hearing a civil case on the application of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, declared 15 Islamic organizations terrorist and banned their activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. One of the banned organizations was Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The motivation of the decision of the Russian Supreme Court does not contain any data on the terrorist activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir in accordance with the definition of terrorism given in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On Combating Terrorism” of 7 March 1998, which is obvious grounds for declaring this decision unfounded.
Despite the fact that the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization has not carried out a single terrorist attack since its inception (1953), it has been recognized as terrorist in Russia and its members are unjustifiably tried as terrorists. The anti-extremist and anti-terrorism legislation of Russia is gradually turning into a repressive tool to combat dissent and peaceful assembly.[/vc_toggle]