Anton Naumlyuk: Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev on Day 19 of hunger strike protest

By Anton Naumlyuk, journalist and freelance correspondent for Radio Svoboda (all photos/video by Anton Naumlyuk)
04.21.2017 Please note: posted on 04.23.2017 – Zeytullaev is on Day 19 of hunger strike protest on day of posting
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Photo: Anton Naumlyuk

Ruslan Zeytullaev was brought to court. He looks gaunt, but is holding steady. Lawyers tried to persuade him to quit the hunger strike, but Ruslan has refused to do so until the verdict is passed. Emil Kurbedinov reminded [Ruslan] of Sakharov’s letter to Mustafa Dzhemilev during his hunger strike. (VoU note: the original letter implored Dzhemilev to “stop the hunger strike, as your death will only bring joy to our enemies.”)

“I’ll be ready to give up, if I cannot read the prayer [five times daily], for example, if I start fainting, but I have not missed a single one yet,” Ruslan replied. In the SIZO, they make three attempts every day to try to persuade him to go off the hunger strike.

According to the SIZO’s medical service, “Zeytullaev’s condition is satisfactory, there are no medical contraindications for attending the trial, his weight is 55 kg [121 lbs], the diagnosis is basic starvation.” Ruslan can no longer participate in the debates that began today, he does not have enough strength, he is going to deliver his final word [closing statement]. The court allowed him to speak while seated.

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB 

Ruslan is being tried for the second time. The Supreme Court decided to address the consequences of the incompetence displayed by the Crimean FSB officers, who at the time of the arrest of the first Hizb, entirely consisted of former SBU [agents], and sent the case for revision. Not to ensure proper trial, of course, but to extend the term. He has been on hunger strike for 18 days and does not intend to stop, despite all of the requests and attempts to dissuade him. His hunger strike, like the flash mob in Ukraine, cannot change anything. But, he stated today in his final word, – “there are moments in life when it is impossible not to do what is necessary.” So he decided that now it is necessary to starve in earnest. He is exhausted, is rapidly losing weight, has difficulty walking, and is not giving up.

“I want to pass on a huge ‘Salaam’ to my people, to the citizens of Ukraine who are supporting me at this difficult time. I want to say that even though my strength is almost gone at this time, I remain firm in my convictions and I will always stand up for the truth. For the truth that I chose for myself from the outset. Today’s situation is the second trial, which, I believe, wants to send me away for a very long time, by hook or by crook. I am grateful to everyone who supports me, but I will not end the hunger strike until I hear the verdict from the judges. And everything that they are accusing me of is an utter lie. Thank you.”

He asked me to record this. Truthfully, I rarely say something like this, but today, the judge has created all the conditions necessary for journalists to work, so thanks for that. “Use the break for the intended purpose,” the judge told me as he was leaving. I am publishing this here, for what it’s worth.

Ruslan has a family at home, and I videotaped them as well. Then I came to Rostov and showed Ruslan the video from Crimea, while he stood in the same cage where once stood Sentsov, and Primov, and Vaitov and Seifullayev. I honestly do not know what else I can do to help them all.

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB

Additional Reading:
CrimeaSOS: Appeal of NGOs with regards to hunger strike of the prisoner of Kremlin Ruslan Zeytullaev

Halya Coynash: Russian prosecutor demands 17 years for Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev

Creative Commons License
This translation work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. 


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1 Response to Anton Naumlyuk: Crimean Tatar political prisoner Ruslan Zeytullaev on Day 19 of hunger strike protest

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