Ukraine frees one of Kremlin’s most prolific political prisoners

July 1,2024 531
Ukraine frees one of Kremlin’s most prolific political prisoners

Nariman Dzhelyal, the first deputy chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, who was captured by the Russians in Crimea in 2021, has been released from Russian captivity. On June 28, Ukraine managed to bring home a total of 10 civilians.

Nariman Dzhelyal, Deputy Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, was captured in Crimea back in 2021. Olena Piekh and Valeriy Matiushenko, civilians, have been held captive since 2017-2018. Bohdan Heleta and Ivan Levytskyi, priests of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, were captured in Berdyansk for resisting the occupiers. Additionally, five more civilians who were captured in Belarus and deprived of their freedom – Mykola Shvets, Natalia Zakharenko, Pavlo Kupriienko, Liudmyla Honcharenko, and Kateryna Briukhanova. All of them are now free and home in Ukraine,” wrote President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In September 2021, the Russians detained five Crimean Tatars in Crimea: Nariman Dzhelyal, Aziz Akhtemov, Asan Akhtemov, Shevket Useinov, and Eldar Odamanov. Dzhelyal was kept in handcuffs with a bag over his head all day and was accused of allegedly damaging a gas pipeline in the village of Perevalne, between Simferopol and Yalta. In 2021, he was sentenced to 17 years in Russian prison.

During his captivity, Nariman has been sending letters, and in one of them he wrote: “We are fighting not only for the integrity of our territories but also for the unity of our society, our beautiful, strong nation.” These powerful words remind us that through unity, we can achieve even the most difficult goals. We will bring security to all our people and peace to Ukraine,” wrote Zelenskyy after meeting Dzhelyal on June 29 in Kyiv.

After his release, Dzhelyal announced his readiness to participate in the process of freeing Ukrainian prisoners from the Kremlin.

Nariman Dzhelyal, a journalist, politician, political scientist, and lecturer, is recognized as one of the Kremlin’s most prominent political prisoners. As the sole representative of the Mejlis leadership, he consistently lived and worked in occupied Crimea for years prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Dzhelyal was arrested by Russian authorities upon his return to Crimea after attending the Inaugural Summit of the Crimean Platform in August 2021.

“He spoke about the persecution and oppression of the indigenous people of Crimea, as well as Ukrainians, which began after the occupation in 2014. He was and remains a person who has great trust from his people,” said the Crimean Human Rights Group. During the fabricated trial, Dzhelyal emphasized that the real reason for his imprisonment was that he “did not remain silent, calling the socio-political phenomena and events happening in Crimea since 2014 by their proper names.”

Previously, Dzhelyal also worked as a host on the Crimean TV channel ATR and taught history and law at the Simferopol International School.

Cover: open sources

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