Crimean Tatar Close To Dzhemilev Says He Was Tortured By Russian FSB

KYIV -- A driver for the wife of veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev says he was tortured by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in Crimea.

Akhtem Mustafayev told journalists in Kyiv on July 10 that FSB officers detained him near Dzhemilev's house in the Crimean city of Bakhchysaray on June 28 and held him in custody for more than four hours.

"They handcuffed me, threw me into a Mercedes-Sprinter car and put a sack over my head," Mustafayev said.

He said the officers took him to an unknown location where they beat him, striking him on the chest and head, forced him to stand on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his back, and tightly covered the top of his head with tape.

"They threatened me, saying that they can make sure that nobody will find me," Mustafayev said.

Mustafayev also said the officers asked him questions about his regular trips from Crimea to Kyiv, his ties with Mustafa Dzhemilev and his associates, and other issues related to Crimean Tatars in general.

He said the officers used a polygraph during the questioning and forced him to sign a document saying that no physical force was used during the questioning.

"They then brought me to the FSB office in Simferopol and later released me," Mustafayev said.

Mustafayev works as a driver for Dzhemilev's wife, Safinar.

Dzhemilev, 73, is a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

He was the chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, or council, until it was banned by pro-Moscow representatives in Crimea.

Dzhemilev was a leading human rights activist during the Soviet era and was jailed several times.

He has been banned from Crimea since Russia occupied and seized control of the peninsula in 2014.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they call a campaign of oppression targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar minority and others who opposed Moscow's rule.

The majority of Crimean Tatars opposed the Russian takeover of their historic homeland.

In March 2017, the European Parliament called on Russia to free more than 30 Ukrainian citizens it said were in prison or other conditions of restricted freedom in Russia, Crimea, and parts of eastern Ukraine that are controlled by Russia-backed separatists.