Ukrainian consuls in Rostov are not allowed to visit political prisoner Zeytullayev, who went on a hunger strike

The Russian authorities in Rostov-on-Don do not allow for Ukrainian consuls to visit to the defendant in the “Hizb ut-Tahrir” case Ruslan Zeytullayev, who went on a hunger strike.

As reported by Mariana Betsa, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, in the commentary to the Krym.Realiyi.

“Despite the numerous appeals from the Ukrainian side to the Russian Federation, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and from the Ukrainian Embassy in Russia, as of today, our consul has not been granted permission to visit Crimean Tatar Ruslan Zeytullayev, who is illegally detained, illegally arrested and is in custody of the Russian Federation”, - said Mariana Betsa.

She assessed the actions of the Russian side as a violation of international law, in particular, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. At the same time, according to the Spokeperson of the MFA, Ukrainian consuls attend all court hearings with participation of Zeytullayev and maintain communication with him and his defense.

There are no comments from the Russian side regarding this situation.

As a reminder, Ruslan Zeytullayev announced an indefinite hunger strike on April 4 during the court hearing in the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don. He put forward a number of demands to the Russian authorities: to stop the criminal prosecution of Crimean Tatars under the articles “terrorism” and “extremism”, to allow the representatives of the MFA to visit him in the SIZO (pre-trial detention centre), as well as to release other defendants in the Sevastopol “Hizb ut-Tahrir” case.

On 7 September 2016, the North Caucasus District Military Court found Zeytullayev guilty of “participating in terrorist communities” and sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment.. The Russian Prosecutor’s Office appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Russia and the case was sent to the North Caucasus District Military Court for reconsideration. Investigative authorities insist that Zeytullayev should not be considered as a participant, but as an organizer of the terrorist community. The corresponding article of the Criminal Code of Ukraine provides for a sanction up from 15 years to life imprisonment.

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