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Ufa Woman Learns Midtrial That Her Bank Cards Are Frozen Due To 'Extremist' Label


Ilmira Bikbayeva (file photo)

UFA, Russia -- A woman on trial in the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan for allegedly providing financial support to the mother of an opposition activist jailed for extremism has been added to a federal list of extremists despite no ruling yet in her case.

The woman, Ilmira Bikbayeva, pleaded not guilty when her trial began in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, in February.

But Bikbayeva told RFE/RL on August 5 that her bank accounts and credit cards had been frozen without warning and when she inquired was told that her name was on the "extremists" registry.

She is charged with providing funds to the mother of Airat Dilmukhametov, a prominent opposition activist who was sentenced to nine years in prison on extremism charges last year.

Bikbayeva said she had to convince the bank to explain the freeze after her cards stopped working on August 3.

After lengthy discussions, she said, she was allowed limited access to her accounts.

Lawyer Stanislav Seleznyov of the Network Freedoms group told RFE/RL that Russian law allows for adding a person suspected of extremism or terrorism to the registry prior to a conviction and that those individuals can appeal the move.

Bikbayeva said she would consult a lawyer.

The charge against Bikbayeva stems from about 6,000 rubles ($82) that she sent to Dilmukhametov’s mother in several installments between 2018 and 2019.

Investigators say the money Bikbayeva sent was used by Dilmukhametov to conduct extremist activities.

If found guilty, Bikbayeva could face a hefty fine or up to eight years in prison.

Dilmukhametov has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated.

He was arrested in March 2019 and sentenced to nine years in prison after a court found him guilty of calling for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity and making public calls for extremism and support for terrorism.

Dilmukhametov made a video statement in 2018 urging the creation of a "real" federation in Russia with more autonomous rights for ethnic republics and regions.

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