Two Crimean Solidarity women activists detained in Russian-occupied Crimea

Coynash Halya
Coynash Halya
Teacher, interpreter, publicist
Two Crimean Solidarity women activists detained in Russian-occupied Crimea

Halya Coynash

Two Crimean Solidarity activists, both of them mothers with young children, were detained in occupied Crimea on 30 May, and held for many hours in the so-called Centre for countering ‘extremism’, without being allowed to see the lawyers who arrived as soon as they heard. This is the latest of many brazen attacks on Crimean Tatar civic activists in occupied Crimea, but by far the most serious to date against women. Both women – Lutfiye Zudieva and Mumine Salieva - have played a major role in informing the international community about repression in Crimea and this is undoubtedly a further attempt to silence courageous activists.

Zudieva was detained on Thursday afternoon, 30 May, on her way home from the market in Dzhankoy. She was finally released in the early evening, however the occupation authorities are, as feared, laying a charge under Article 20.3 of Russia’s code of administrative offences, for supposed "propaganda or public display of symbols of extremist organizations or other symbols, whose propaganda or public display is prohibited by federal laws". The ‘court’ hearing is due on 31 May. Salieva, who is from Bakhchysarai and the wife of political prisoner, Seiran Saliev, was detained about an hour later in her own home, but released earlier, though she too appears to be facing administrative prosecution.

The been used on repeated occasions, including against awyers, defending political prisoners. Emil Kurbedinov, for example, has twice been prosecuted and, each time, jailed first for 10, then for 5 days, over the same innocuous video he reposted in June 2013, long before Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea (details here).

The pretext found in all such cases is immaterial, since the Russian-controlled ‘judges’ provide the rulings demanded of them.

The warning is ominously clear: Russia will use the force of its repressive machine against women also in its attempts to crush Crimean Solidarity and all civic activism in Crimea under Russian occupation.

Both women were very aware of the danger they face because of their civic activism. Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra Yefymenko shared the photo above, noting that during her last visit to Crimea (before being banned by the occupation regime), Lutfiye had asked her to find the best photo of her if she were detained. It was doubtless half said in fun, but there was a dead serious side to it. Both women have four children. It is very likely that the reason that lawyers were kept out was to put maximum pressure on the women.

What is equally evident about the detentions on 30 May is that Russia wanted to demonstrate that women should also not believe themselves to be safe from persecution.

Russia’s offensive against the civic initiative Crimean Solidarity began in October 2017, and there are now a very large number of activists in detention, facing horrifically long sentences.

May 31, 2019
Support our work

We need your help to create projects and materials aimed to defend freedom of speech, popularize Ukrainian culture and values of independent journalism.

Your donation means support for discussions, awards, festivals, authors’ trips to regions and PEN book publications.

Support PEN

We recommend viewing: