Four Men Accused of Belonging to ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ Freed from Custody in Bashkortostan
On 5th March 2013 four men accused of belonging to ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ have been released after having been detained for around four months in custody in a criminal investigation detention centre in Ufa; Rasim Sataev, Evgeniy Kulagin, Aleksei Khamadeev and Aidar Garifyanov. In relation to changes in legislation, assumed on 30th December 2012, the investigator did not attempt to prolong the length of the detention. The accused were taken from the detention centre to a building of the Republic of Bashkortostan’s Federal Security Service, where it was reported that they had been released in their own custody.
Sataev, Kulagin, Akhmadeev and Garifyanov were arrested on 6th November 2012 in Ufa as part of an FSB special operation. The arrests and raids of no less than ten flats were carried out as part of criminal case No. 2000066, which was opened on 5th November upon cell activity in Ufa by the Islamic party ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’, a group which is banned in Russia. According to investigators, the cell, led by 31-year-old Uzbekistan native Evgeniy Kulagin, comprised of no less than twenty people. Among the allegedly criminal incidents is the organisation and carrying out of an Islamic conference in the ‘Akbuzat’ conference hall in Ufa on 6th November 2011, in which “activities were carried out which propagandised ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ ideas … with the use of video materials and slogans.”
On 8th November the four detainees were charged under Article 282-2, paragraph 1, of the Criminal Code (the organising of activities of extremist organisations, which have been banned by the court). Two of them (Sataev and Khamadeev) had previously been prosecuted on similar charges. On the same day the Kirov regional court of Ufa satisfied the request of the investigator, Yu. Kadyrov, to keep them in custody for two months. The Republic of Bashkortostan’s Supreme Court rejected the appeals of the defense lawyers. On 28th December 2012 the period of detention was extended until 5th March 2013.
Meanwhile, on 30th December 2012 the Criminal Code was amended, regarding Article 282-2 of the Criminal Code, restrictive measures in the form of remand in custody can only be carried out in exceptional circumstances (i.e. lack of permanent residence in Russia, an unidentified individual, violation of previous detention or attempts to escape from the preliminary investigation centre or the court), of which in this case there were none.
In connection to this, on 31st January 2013 defense lawyers submitted a complaint regarding illegal detention to the Public Prosecution Office of the Republic of Bashkortostan. The Public Prosecution Office, having not supplied a substantial reply, forwarded the complaint to the FSB’s Chief of Investigations, S.G. Khisamov. A reply from the latter has not been received. The detainees were released only after the expiry of the term set by the court before the amendments to the Criminal Code.
At the present time more than ten Muslims accused under Article 282-2 of the Criminal Code are illegally detained in detention centres in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Tartarstan. Contrary to the requirements of the law even in this current year the courts have sanctioned the arrests of some of them.
Vitaly Ponomaryov heads the Memorial HRC programme aimed at prevention of criminal persecution against Muslims in Russia on fabricated extremism charges
March 11, 2013