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11 June, 07:41 PM

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Russian war fever cools as scores of dead Russian marines arrive in occupied Crimea — Graty editor-in-chief

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the occupied Crimea witnessed an inflow of corpses, and the war resistance movement intensified in the region, Anton Naumlyuk, editor-in-chief of judicial media Graty, told Radio NV.

NV: Let's discuss in more detail those lawsuits against various people in Crimea who attended anti-war rallies. We have various reports that there are allegedly some people in Crimea in the Armed Forces, allegedly some prosecutors and FSB members, who are not happy with the course of developments, the course of the war. How would you describe the current mood in Crimea?

It’s rather difficult to tell, to give any estimations for all of Crimea, as in Crimea the moods of the various population groups vary widely. There are Crimean Tatars who have been politically disloyal to Russia from the beginning and have tried to defend their freedoms peacefully. Now, of course, they are under even more pressure and repression. There are citizens that are simply afraid that hostilities will spread to the Crimean territory — no matter what the consequences will be, they are simply afraid of war. In general, this is probably the most common mood. Let me remind you that Russian propaganda, in particular the narrative that Crimea was captured without a fight without casualties, although this is not the case, it used it very widely in an attempt to spread its influence and somehow regain the sympathy of the Crimean people.

As for the departure of security officers, FSB officers and law enforcement officers to Russian regions, the departure from the Crimea, I would not saythat this is a large-scale or mass process. I’m afraid that this is our desire rather than reality. Although some part of the population did genuinely leave — we can't say that no one was scared. Quite a lot of those who most likely understand that they are there (those who came from Russia), violating Ukrainian law. And if the situation pans out in such a way that Crimea is eventually returned, they will generally have to somehow resolve problems with the property they bought, with education, in general, try to either legitimize themselves, or still leave. And some part at the very beginning of the full-scale invasion really did go; we have observed this.

NV: I also saw on your website, it was at the beginning of the war, that there was a hospital in Krasnoperekopsk that was overcrowded with the wounded. We have reports that there are many Crimean hospitals with wounded Russian military. Do you know anything about this?

In general, as you know, and now it is no secret that for the Russian troops the southern axis and the offensive from the Crimea was probably the most successful. However, a huge number of victims, fatalities and wounded came to Crimea. We’re just now beginning to learn more or less,but there is a huge mass of dead Russian soldiers from the 810th, for example, the Russian Marine Brigade, based in Sevastopol. They also took part (in the fighting in Ukraine), we had data, we received information from there, absolutely verified, it is certain that more than 70 people refused to take part in hostilities. This was the beginning of the full-scale invasion, that is, before the wave of casualties, which then began to depart Ukraine. I think that now the situation is perhaps even more critical for the military, who do not want to take part in hostilities against Ukraine.

In general, as you know, and now it is no secret that for the Russian troops the southern axis and the offensive from the Crimea was probably the most successful. However, a huge number of victims, fatalities and wounded came to Crimea. We’re just now beginning to learn more or less,but there is a huge mass of dead Russian soldiers from the 810th, for example, the Russian Marine Brigade, based in Sevastopol. They also took part (in the fighting in Ukraine), we had data, we received information from there, absolutely verified, it is certain that more than 70 people refused to take part in hostilities. This was the beginning of the full-scale invasion, that is, before the wave of casualties, which then began to depart Ukraine. I think that now the situation is perhaps even more critical for the military, who do not want to take part in hostilities against Ukraine.

NV: Then let's talk about the cases we have in Crimea. I read on your website that the latest case is that 25-year-old Aziz Fayzulayev was detained on suspicion of setting fire to the Pushkine village administration building in the Sovietsky district. In the evening of the same day, a video appeared of him confessing that he had done so in protest at the war. What is happening to Aziz and how common are such cases?

I would not go so far as to say that this is a sort of guerrilla movement, organized or at least large-scale, no. But the number of people and the presence of people who are ready to oppose the war physically, not just writing some posts on Facebook... Yesterday, for example, we did not even have time to write it up, one of the activists in Simferopol was fined 30,000 rubles ($520) just for writing "No to War" on her VKontakte page in April, and that sufficed. There are a lot of them, and this is genuinely such a large-scale anti-war movement, but of peaceful resistance. But there are people — new ones are constantly appearing — who are ready to oppose the war, to take some more visible, physical steps. There is an artist in Yevpatoria who tried to set fire to the administration building, recorded anti-war videos, did things in general, anti-war protests. And here in Pushkine, and a few other people who were fined for going out to protest, we also covered this.

Perhaps, you see, there is also a preposterous story about a pensioner in Crimea, who was so shocked by the events in Bucha, so shocked by the crimes, her classmates and friends died there... She went to the grave of one of the dead Russian marines in the cemetery near Sudak and poured blood on it as her way of protesting. Then she claimed, of course, to have overreacted, but in general it was a sort of anti-war performance. She has been in jail for two months now and is likely to be tried for desecrating the grave of Valeriy Goldenberg. There are many such people who think it is necessary to do something to state that they are against the war, to show that they are not indifferent.

NV: And what are they threatened with? And do they have the opportunity to get some kind of legal assistance?

In fact, they face persecution under any article of the Criminal Code that the FSB or the police want to apply to them. In the case of Goldenberg, it was the desecration of the grave for political reasons, on the grounds of political enmity. She was tried, given several years in a penal colony, but the defense will try to appeal against the verdict. My lawyers and I said that they saw potential there. For all the others – for example, those who tried to set fire to things or were forced to admit that they tried to set fire – we still do not know. For example, we don’t know whether in Pushkine the detainee really had anything to do with the arson or not. We saw only a video recorded without lawyers, apparently under duress, a person sitting, nervous, testifying whilst reading from a piece of paper about how she tried to set fire to the administration.

They will be tried, some have already been accused of a terrorist attack and (their actions) are considered a terrorist attack. Others, for example, are being tried for discrediting the Russian army, several people are beingtried in administrative courts, we only know of those that have been arrested and have served administrative arrests in detention centers. Some were fined for the same thing. That is, a completely different set of articles that they cherry-picked and applied. But the article is administrative and criminal for discrediting the Russian army, but it is probably the one used most often.

It is theoretically possible to defend against this, everyone is defending themselves, and Crimea has a wonderful legal community with experiencein political litigation. But we understand that the judicial system in Crimea is simply a continuation of the repressive apparatus. This is not a court that establishes the guilt, the degree of guilt, acquits or clarifies some other circumstances. No, it is the legalization of pressure, the legalization of repression. Just a sentence will be a formal reason to send a person to jail.

NV: We also saw that on May 26 the Crimean lawyer Edem Semedlyaev was detained. He was detained by officers of the Center for Countering Extremism of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in the center of Simferopol. This happened because he posted something on social networks, allegedly reposted something. Is it known what happened to Eden Semedlyaev? You just said that they issue fines for posting on social networks. How is this case different?

This is a completely appalling story, when lawyer Edem Semedlyaev was detained, tried on an administrative article, also for discrediting the armedforces. For a post that he did not write, he did not comment on, he did notpost or repost – simply a person tagged him in this post. This is one of the Russian dissidents who left Russia many years ago and founded a dissident movement abroad, and writes quite gritty things. This post at least said that nationalities in Russia who are oppressed should create guerrilla units and overthrow the Putin regime. There he mentioned the Crimean lawyer as one of his acquaintances, and he tagged a total of 100 people, and this post appeared on the lawyer's page. This was enough for Semedlyaev, who specializes in defending Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists, deals with political cases, to bring him to justice and, in fact, try to exert such pressure.

But in addition to him, three other lawyers from the same cohort of Crimean lawyers involved with political cases were detained and later tried and arrested. This is precisely the question of whether it is possible to defend oneself. Probably, in Crimea it is possible and necessary to defend oneself in court, to prove one's innocence, to demonstrate it openly in order to make it obvious. But even the defenders in Crimea are under no less pressure and no less repression, among other things, because they are defending the interests of their clients in court in political trials, on the very same political charges.

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