Ukraine/Russia: Sentencing of indigenous rights defender Nariman Dzhelyal

Urgent Appeal
Ed Hinchliffe

New Information
RUS 004 / 0921 / OBS 095.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Ukraine / Russian Federation
September 23, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Crimea, Ukrainian region being occupied by the Russian Federation.

New information: 

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Mr. Nariman Dzhelyal to 17 years in prison on trumped-up charges of “sabotage”. Mr. Dzhelyal is an indigenous and minority rights defender and the first deputy head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People [1]

On September 21, 2022 the Kiev district court of Simferopol found Nariman Dzhelyal guilty of “sabotage” and sentenced him to 17 years in prison, a 700,000 Rubles (approximately 11,780 Euros) fine and one year and six months of freedom restriction. On the same day, and as part of the same case, the court sentenced Crimean Tatar activists Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov to 15 years in prison, a 500,000 Rubles (approximately 8,400 Euros) fine and one year of freedom restriction each on the same charges.

The trial has suffered from multiple and gross procedural irregularities, including lack of access to a lawyer of their choosing, and the use of evidence obtained under duress. The indictment relied solely on the testimony of secret witnesses and on the testimonies of Asan and Aziz Akhtemov, charged with “sabotage” alongside Mr. Dzhelyal. Both of them retracted their testimonies in court, alleging that they had been obtained under torture and that they had been subjected to mock executions during the interrogations. Despite the lack of firm evidence, Mr. Dzhelyal has been kept in arbitrary detention at the temporary detention facility of Simferopol for more than one year.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Dzhelyal was arrested on September 4, 2021, in relation to an alleged intentional damage to a gas pipe. On September 6, 2021, the Kiev district court of Simferopol ordered Nariman Dzhelyal’s pre-trial detention until November 4, 2021 on charges of “sabotage” (part 1 of Article 281 of the Criminal Code of Russia) brought against him by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Mr. Dzhelyal’s pre-trial detention has been renewed several times since then.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the continued arbitrary detention and unfair conviction of Nariman Dzhelyal. The Observatory firmly condemns the acts of torture committed against Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov and the use of confessions made under duress as evidence during the trial.

The Observatory recalls that since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, Crimean Tatars and those who defend their rights have been targeted by the Russian authorities, including through enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, judicial harassment and arbitrary searches [2]

The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nariman Dzhelyal, to quash his conviction and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders and organisations in Crimea. 

Actions requested:  

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:
 guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Nariman Dzhelyal and all other human rights defenders in Crimea;
 quash the conviction of Nariman Dzhelya;
 immediately and unconditionally release Nariman Dzhelyal as his detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at intimidating him and diverting him from his legitimate human rights activities;
 guarantee Nariman Dzhelyal’s unhindered access to his family members and to a lawyer of his own or his family’s choosing;
 put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Nariman Dzhelyal and all other human rights defenders in Crimea, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.


 Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
 Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
 Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail:
 Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation,
 Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS),
 Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail:
 Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail:
 Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, September 23, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
 Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 
 Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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