FSB plans new arrests in Moscow connected to the frame-up anti-Muslim case about the “preparation of forcible seizure of power in Russia”

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Human Rights Center Memorial

Apr 12, 2013, 7:28:32 AM4/12/13
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FSB plans new arrests in Moscow connected to the frame-up anti-Muslim case about the “preparation of forcible seizure of power in Russia”

Vitaly Ponomarev

On 10 April 2013 court of the Meshchanskiy district of Moscow granted the application of the investigation service of FSB office in Moscow and Moscow region concerning the extension of detention of the defendants in the criminal case about the Islamic organization “Khizb ut-Takhrir”, who were arrested in November 2012, till 11 August. The accused are the Russian citizen Saypulla Kurbanov, born in 1980 and the Tajik citizen Zakrillokhon Rakhmonkhodzhaev, born in 1975. A similar request, which is connected to the same case, for Timur Malsagov, born in 1970, and Azizbek Inamov, born in 1977, was considered that day.

During the court hearings it was found out, that on 1 and 2 April all of the above-named persons have additionally been accused of preparing actions, aimed at the “forcible seizure of power” in Russia (Part 1 of Art. 30 - Art. 278, Russian Criminal Code). Criminal cases about “extremism” initiated under Art. 282-2 (“participation in a forbidden organization”), which doesn't qualify as a serious crime, are typical for modern Russia. But now, such a case unexpectedly transformed into a case about a purportedly committed particular serious crime, for which 12 to 20 years of imprisonment can be faced.

In the January press release (http://www.memo.ru/d/145394.html) the HRC Memorial assumed the possibility of this kind of course of events. New accusation does not reflect any new facts or pieces of evidence, which have been discovered during the investigations, but the political decision of the Kremlin, taken after several months of considering (see as well: http://www.memo.ru/d/135714.html).

It is probable, that just as in the similar case in Chelyabinsk, which is right now discussed in court, the accusations of preparing violent actions will not be supported by real facts of any conspiratorial activity, gained through detailed work, but primarily by doubtful “expert” conclusions about the consequences of Muslims' studying publications and ideas of the organization, that is forbidden in Russia.

Hundreds of Muslims living in Russia could become victims of this “new policy”, especially if the unspoken instruction about the application of Article 278 spreads across the borders of two federal subjects (Moscow, Moscow region) out in the Povolzhye region.

FSB doesn't conceal its preparations regarding new arrests in Moscow region. In the request, which was filed to court, the senior investigator of FSB Gorbunov indicates, that in the next four months it is planned to “determine and detain other participants of the crime which is being investigated.”

According to unofficial information, FSB is considering the possibility to make use of another “particularly gross article” of the Russian Criminal Code regarding the accusation, namely “Organization of a Criminal Community” (Art. 210), which has been tried out earlier in the case of Kasymakhunov abducted in Moscow.

At the present time, not all of the defendants in this criminal case are additionally charged with Article 278, which gives the FSB investigators a forceful instrument to manipulate the testimonies and interpret them as they want.

Reminder: the criminal case №  290940 was initiated by the FSB office on 11 October 2012 under Art. 282-2, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code, regarding unidentified persons, who during the years 2010-2012 were organizing activities of Khizb ut-Takhrir, forbidden in Russia, in the Moscow territory.

On 7 November 2012 numerous arrests and searches connected to this case were conducted in Moscow and Podmoskovye, and in some cases, allegedly, pieces of evidence were planted. The majority of the detainees was released, some of them are still kept as suspects or defendants. On some of the suspects measures of restraint have been applied in form of detention in custody (some of their cases were allocated to separate proceedings). Regardless of the fact, that after the adoption of an amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code on 31 December 2012 the pretrial detention of the majority of suspects in this case was unlawful, in only one case the lawyers succeeded to achieve in court a change of the measures of restraint.

Among Russian and Western experts there exist contradictory opinions concerning certain aspects of the ideology and practices of  “Khizb ut-Takhrir”, which speaks out in favor of the creation of a worldwide Islamic caliphate. It is known, however, that the organization rejects terrorism as the means to achieve their goals. The decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2003 about the prohibition of the international “terrorist” organization “Khizb ut-Takhrir” has become a legal basis for the initiation of numerous criminal cases in our country, which has been criticized repeatedly.

The Moscow case about “Khizb ut-Takhrir”, whose members allegedly prepared a violent take-over of power in Russia, is just a part of the anti-Islamic campaign, which has been  intensively arranged by FSB since last summer, and in whose framework the followers of different Islamic groups are facing various doubtful accusations. The campaign is accompanied by obvious attempts to manipulate the public opinion by means of disinformation provided by the journalists.

Vitaly Ponomarev is the head of the HRC Memorial's program regarding the counteraction against frame-up criminal cases about Islamic extremism

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