businessman, an owner of the Crimean Tatar “Salachyk” cafe, philanthropist, civiс activist
Part 1 of Art. 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (creation of a terrorist organisation, namely the local cell of the Islamic Party of Liberation “Hizb ut-Tahrir”)
October 11, 2017
from 15 years to life imprisonment
days in custody
A father of four, Asanov was arrested on 11 October 2017 together with five other Crimean Tatars in the town of Bakhchysarai. Marlen Asanov was trained in philology. Since 2015, he was actively involved in the Crimean Solidarity movement, and provided social and financial assistance to the families of political prisoners. He also donated funds for various charitable projects. On 12 May 2016, during the arrest of so-called first Bakhchysarai group within the Hizb ut-Tahrir cases, the search was conducted in the Salaçıq café. Marlen Asanov was accused of participation in the illegal organization, and was fined.
Searches were carried out in their homes by FSB officers during which lawyers were not allowed to communicate with their clients. Access to the Internet was blocked and drones were used to record videos during searches at Asanov’s house. Eight activists of the Crimean Solidarityinitiative were also detained and taken to the police station after they came to show their support to the arrested Crimean Tatars and to share on social networks the law enforcement representatives’ actions.
Since the detention, Suleyman Asanov is kept under arrest in the pre-detention center.
Asanov is accused of being the organiser of a local cell of the Islamic Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). The five other Crimean Tatars who were arrested together with him – Ernest Ametov, Memet Belyalov, Server Zekiryaev, Tymur Ibrahimov and Seyran Saliev- are suspected in participating in this cell. However, as all six have been active within the Crimean Solidarity civic movement, Asanov believes these charges are politically motivated. Since 2015 he has been involved in helping the families of Crimean political prisoners, providing them with moral and material support. He was named “Volunteer of the year” 2017 by Euromaidan SOS for this great involvement and actions. It is these actions that are believed to have motivated in turn FSB’s crackdown on the group of Crimean Tatar civic activists.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is considered in Russia a “terrorist” organization according to the 2003 decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation despite the lack of evidence concerning its involvement in the preparation or perpetration of terrorist acts. It is a transnational movement that presents itself as non-violent and that is considered legal in Ukraine and tolerated in other countries.
Tortures and pressure
Often, during the court hearings on their arrest, neither water nor food are provided to the defendants of the case, which lawyers say account to a form of torture. The court settings are usually closed to the public. The detainees are often placed in metal cages, that is violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Moreover, families are not allowed to visit the detainees in prison. The figurants of the case were also placed for over a month in a psychiatric hospital to undergo a psychiatric examination.
According to Emil Kurbedinov, Asanov’s lawyer, the investigation has never been able to provide any proof supporting the accusations against his client. Asanov’s request to be given a Crimean Tatar interpreter at court hearings was not fulfilled. He didn’t receive any water or food during the hearing at the so called “Supreme Court of Crimea,” which the lawyers say could account to inhumane treatment and/or torture.
Kurbedinov’s demands to replace his client’s pre-trial detention with house arrest were also ignored by the Court.
“We consider pre-trial detention a certain type of pressure exercised on our clients rather than a safeguard against their possible escape. They won’t be able to escape nor to influence anyone under house arrest. But keeping them in the pre-trial detention facility has a fundamentally different aim as it is a terrible overcrowded place infested with fleas, lice, bedbugs. A place where is cold, that lacks water and where all diseases aggravate. All this can account to torture.” Emil Kurbedinov, lawyer