In the last five years, Russian security forces have arrested dozens of Crimean Tatars on charges of terrorism in Crimea. Prosecutors claim that they are all connected with Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international, pan-Islamist political organization that Russia, China, and various predominantly Muslim countries classify as a terrorist group.
Before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, however, such crackdowns did not occur here. International human-rights watchdogs assert that Moscow is using the charges as a way of intimidating and silencing those critical of its takeover of the peninsula.
The connection between the accused, who maintain their innocence, and Hizb ut-Tahrir remains unclear. At one December 2018 trial, prosecutors’ evidence consisted of three unnamed witnesses and a covert Federal Security Service recording of a meeting, the Russian human-rights group Memorial reported.
That did not prevent judges, however, from sentencing the accused to prison terms of up to 17 years.