Since Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine, dozens of countries around the world have launched assistance programs for Ukrainians. They provide temporary shelter for Ukrainians: residence permits for the war period, permissions for work, study and a number of social security assistance. In many countries Ukrainian refugees received the status almost equal to the status of citizens of these countries.
These programs have been used not only by Ukrainian women and children who escaped from the Russian shelling and persecution on territories occupied by the Russian Federation, but also by collaborators who greeted Russian occupants. Crimean collaborators are within the second group. They helped to establish Russian occupation regime. They became diligent Russian propagandists and justified Russian terror against their own people.
After the Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine, Crimean collaborators faced perspectives of being mobilized into the Russian army. They took their Ukrainian foreign passports and fled to countries around the world – from Poland to the USA. Russian propagandist Seyman Mambetov with his family moved to Florida and recently appeared at Crimean Tatar party in Orlando.
In 2014, in order to suppress protests of Crimean Tatars, Russian occupants and their collaborators launched massive persecution of members of Majlis, self-governing body of Crimean Tatars, and delegates of Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People, electing members of Majlis, as well as political and civic activists and journalists. People were arrested, searched, abducted, beaten and expelled. Some protesters disappeared. Many Crimean Tatar activists were imprisoned under falsified accusations of “terrorism” and “extremism”.
Seyman Namanovych Mambetov headed mass media supervised by the Russian intelligence services and the Russian occupation government. He publicly persuaded that Crimean Tatars supported the Russian occupation.
At the end of April, 2014, the Russian occupation administration prohibited the Crimean Tatar office of seized Ukrainian state TV company “Krym” to broadcast leaders of Majlis. Its director Seitislyam Kishveev and chief editor of news room Shevket Ganiev were later fired. Illegal dismissal of Kishveev has been later recognized even by the Russian occupation court.
Seyran Mambetov has been appointed by Russian occupants to head the Crimean Tatar office of TV company. Former employee of the office recalled that Mambetov called upon its subordinates to receive Russian passports:
“Seyran called each employee into his cabinet. He promised young cameramen, directors and editors that he would hire them and pay good salaries. He said: “Guys! Putin took away Crimea forever! Get Russian passports!”
As sources of the CJI reported, after face-to-face conversations with employees, Seyran Mambetov informed Kateryna Kozyr, the General Director of TV company, about those employees who opposed Russian authorities and supported Majlis of Crimean Tatar people.
In September 2014, Mambetov conducted cleansing of the Crimean Tatar office from “suspicious” and disloyal Crimean Tatar employees. They were replaced by people, loyal to the Russian occupation authorities. He introduced strict censorship. He openly justified it by the need to protect interests of Russia. Mambetov explained his censorship in an interview to Крим.Реалії in the following way:
“We are created to protect interests of the state. We need to introduce calmness and stability in Crimea. I think it is not convenient to broadcast opposition with its opinion about weak and small Crimean republic”.
Consequently, Russian occupants prohibited Crimean Tatar TV company “ATR”, children’s channel “Lyalle” and radio station “Meydan”. This measure suppressed freedom of thought in the Crimean Tatar community and severed censorship in Crimea media.
March 31, 2015 has been the last day of TV channel ATR. Lilia Budjurova, chief editor of the channel, renowned journalist and poet, said farewell words: “Those, who close ATR, do not hit our channel. They hit Crimean Tatar people. We stop our broadcasting today. But we will come back. We always come back”.
On April, 22, 2015, Russian “Head of Crimea” Aksyonov signed a decree about creation of Crimean Tatar TV channel supervised by the Russian occupation government of Crimea. Traitors Ruslan Balbek and Zaur Smyrnov, members of the Russian occupation government of Crimea, mentioned Seyran Mambetov as the manager of this channel.
On July 21, 2015, legal entity “autonomous non-commercial organization “Public Crimean Tatar TV and radio company” (Russian taxpayer’s code 9102190660) has been registered in the Russian State Register of Legal Entities. The company has been founded by “the subject of the Russian Federation – Republic of Crimea”.
Opposition Crimean Tatars renamed it into “Crimean Tatar Public TV and Radio Company”, with Crimean Tatar abbreviation “KOT”. This abbreviation translated into Ukrainian means “ass”.
Russian occupation government appointed Seyran Mambetov as the CEO of newly created TV and Radio Company.
TV channel with the name “Millet” (“people” in Crimean Tatar language) has been launched on September 21, 2015. Mambetov declared in his interview to Russian federal TV channels that its broadcasting would cover Kherson region and reach Kyiv. The channel would signify that Crimean Tatars were not suppressed by Russia in occupied Crimea.
“We feel good and comfortable here”, as said Mambetov to Russian information agency “Novosti” at the time when Crimean Tatar activists and journalists were abducted, killed, arrested and tortured in Crimea whereas legitimate leaders of Crimean Tatars were banned from entering Crimea.
Mambetov himself felt good and comfortable. Aksyonov appointed him as the member of the board of Crimean “State Committee on Inter-ethnic Relations” and of the board of “Ministry of Internal Policy, Information and Communication”. The Ministry issued licenses for TV and radio channels. The Russian occupation government of Crimea allocated 177 million Rubles to “Millet” during the first year of its existence.
It seems that Mambetov misappropriated these budgetary resources. In December 2016, Russian occupation authorities launched criminal investigation of the misappropriation of budgetary money by the management of “Millet”. In June 2017, Mambetov has been dismissed as his contract has not been prolonged. Criminal investigation did not bring any results.
However, Mambetov did not leave the Crimean politics. He provided various services to Crimean Tatar collaborators Remzi Iljasov, Zaur Smyrnov and others who would like to obtain positions within the Russian occupation authorities. On the eve of 2019 “elections” in Crimea, Mambetov founded several media projects in Youtube, including discussion club called “Crimean divan”.
In 2019, a number of Crimea Tatar collaborators, headed by Remzi Iljasov, “vice-speaker of the State Council of Crimea”, launched “public movement” “Milli yurt”. Susanna Beitullaeva, the wife of Mambetov, made a speech at the initial meeting of this movement.
In March 2019, Seyran Mambetov registered “Charitable Fund of Crimean Tatar Arts and Ethnography” in the Russian jurisdiction. It seems that this fund has been created to use during 2019 “elections” in Crimea as there were no news about its activity.
However, Russian occupants refused to support Crimean Tatar collaborators and they did not participate in “elections”.
Photos of Mambetov in social media demonstrate that after 2019 he has returned to concert and festival activity.
But recently Osman Pashaev, known Ukrainian journalist and head of UA:South project, reported that Mambetov renewed his Ukrainian passport in the Ukrainian consulate in Turkey and then fled to Florida, USA.
He posted video made during the celebration of Muslim Kurban Bayram in Orlando. The video shows Seyran Mambetov calling local Crimean Tatar community to unite and regularly meet. Mambetov says: “Thanks to Allah! Let us make these meetings more often. Let us make friends. Thanks to our head Elmaz. Thank you for coming. Enjoy yourself here. Meals are ready”.
In his comment to the CJI, Osman Pashaev says that Seyran Mambetov lives in Florida:
“It has been confirmed by resident of Orlando. Mambetov attended Kurban Bayram there.
Why he chose the USA? As far as I know, his adult sons live in the USA. There are other reasons. If person is afraid of possible sanctions and extradition, then, the USA is the country where you can protest against extradition in US courts and court procedures will take years.
There are many Crimean traitors and collaborators. We investigate, first of all, the activity of Crimean Tatar collaborators. Nobody forced them to loot the property of other people, to persecute other people and to head Russian propagandist channel. There are three key persons who headed this Russian propagandist channel in 2015-2017. They openly harassed and bullied Crimean Tatar activists who were persecuted by the Russian authorities. They called Russian repressions “criminal investigation”…
In his article “VIP-traitors”, Osman Pashaev recalls that Russian occupation authorities had to find loyal Crimean Tatars either among political losers or among criminals and fraudsters like mufti Emirali Ablaev, Remzi Iljasov, Ruslan Balbek, Zaur Smyrnov etc.
Today Crimean Tatar collaborators are going to emigrate from Crimea and Russia abroad. As Pashaev says, “deputy minister of culture” of the Russian occupation government in Crimea tries to settle in Turkey. “Vice-Prime-Minister” plans to move to Uzbekistan. A head of Crimean Tatar community in Moscow received permanent residence permit in Turkey.
The same trend is observed among collaborators-propagandists. As Osman Pashaev identified, they use the following schemes to settle in Europe or USA.
“TV host Susanna Khalilova tried to be “first Skabeeva” [one of key Russian propagandists] of the “Crimean Tatar TV broadcasting” controlled by Russian occupants. In 2015, she often accused Crimean Tatar activists that they fled from Crimea and betrayed their people. But now she resides in Russian region of Dagestan and plans to move to the USA where her sister lives. It is likely that she will submit the argument of “uniting with family” to the US immigration authorities. It seems that Seyran Mambetov used the same argument.
There are two programs in the USA. “Uniting with family” is the universal program. There is a special program for Ukrainians – Uniting for Ukraine (U4U).
How Crimean Tatar collaborators receive Ukrainian foreign passports? They have lived in Crimea for almost ten years and did not attend Ukraine to renew their Ukrainian identity documents. But after the Russian full scale invasion, the Ukrainian authorities have opened several offices for renewal of identity documents in Europe and Turkey. Collaborators are able to enter Turkey with Russian passports and renew their Ukrainian passports there. If they are not listed in sanction lists and / or there are no criminal investigations of their activity in Ukraine, then, they renew their Ukrainian passports in Turkey and apply for all programs for Ukrainian refugees abroad.
Our former colleagues from ATR channel told me that there are former employees of propagandist “Millet” channel in Ireland. After the Russian full scale invasion, they immigrated to Ireland”.