Emil Kurbedinov: Front Line Defenders Award is recognition of human rights activists and a signal to Russia that the world knows about persecution in Crimea


Crimean lawyer and human rights activist Emil Kurbedinov got an award from the human rights international organization Front Line Defenders, which protects human rights defenders who work in the conditions threatening to life, health and freedom. This is the first presentation of this award in Ukraine. “This award is very important to everyone working in Crimea. This is not my award, this is an award to all human rights defenders, civil society activists working both here and in Crimea, who are not afraid to do their job and give a strong impetus not only to people in Crimea, but also in Russia: that you can and should fight, by peaceful means, openly and publicly, ” stated Emil Kurbedinov at a press briefing held at Ukraine Media Crisis Center. “For me and my colleagues it means recognition of our work, and a signal to Russia that international organizations monitor the situation in Crimea, watch the work of human rights defenders and know about persecution taking place in Crimea,” he added.

Emil Kurbedinov noted that pressure on civil society activists and human rights defenders in Crimea only increases. He reminded of a number of imprisoned journalists, activists, and human rights defenders – those whose proceedings are continuing and those who have been sentenced to imprisonment, the arrest of Nikolai Polozov, lawyer of Akhtem Chyyhoz, in Crimea after his speech in the PACE; his own 10-day arrest on false charges. Now it is not unusual to see that the cases of political prisoners are set for trial behind closed doors, allegedly because of a high level of social and political instability and terrorist threats. “This is a violation of international and national law,” he emphasized. However, our activists come to such hearings – to the court door. “Human rights defenders resist intimidation. Human right defenders, civic activists and relatives of political prisoners unite and continue their work. They began to create their own platforms, such as “Crimean solidarity”, which has been holding monthly meetings for a year, and foundation “Our Children”, which helps children of political prisoners,” he noted.

According to him, Russian intelligence services closely monitor the work of human rights defenders in Crimea and outside Crimea. “This has some beneficial effects on those in prisons and on the vector of Russian law enforcement agencies. […] In recent materials on extending the preventive measure they even have added materials from the websites of human rights organizations – about the Ukrainian and international support. They say that since outside Russia these people have been considered political prisoners, they cannot be released at all because they can flee the country,” he added.

Emil Kurbedinov stressed that support from mainland Ukraine, from journalists, human rights activists and ordinary citizens is very important to all those who face persecution in Crimea.