July 06, 2023

Sought to Visit Sick Father, Arrested as Spy


Sought to Visit Sick Father, Arrested as Spy
Lenie Umerova, arrested for espionage for trying to visit her dying father. Grati, Telegram

Lenie Umerova, a Ukrainian citizen and Crimean Tatar, was arrested for espionage while crossing the Georgian-Russian border in a roundabout itinerary to Crimea, where her sick father was. On July 1, Mediazona reported she was sentenced to four months in prison.

In December 2022, the 25-year-old learned that her father was dying of cancer in her native Crimea. She left Kyiv, where she worked in marketing for a women's apparel company, and traveled to Georgia. There, she boarded a bus from Tbilisi to Simferopol. Russian border guards took her passport and phone, and Umerova was sent to a detention center for foreigners.

The court initially ordered her deportation, but after winning an appeal in mid-March, Umerova was released. But, as soon as she set foot outside, four men put a bag over her head, kidnapped, and arrested her. Since then, the courts have sentenced her four times in a row for 15 days on counts of disobedience.

On May 4, Umerova's parents arrived at the detention center where their daughter was being held, only to find that the FSB had taken her and all her belongings. The next day, a Moscow court ordered her arrest for espionage, alleging she had collected information on the Russian military and the Vostok Battalion.

Human Rights Watch has denounced the persecution of Crimean Tatars under Russian occupation since 2014.

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