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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Rustam Sheykhaliev

Detained Since: March 27, 2019.

Charges: Organizing the operations of a terrorist organization (Article 205.5).

Sentence: 14 years in prison.

Biography: Rustam Sheykhaliev resided in Simferopol and, starting in 2015, reported on human rights violations in occupied Crimea. He attended trials and helped families of political prisoners communicate with loved ones in detention. In March 2019, Sheykhaliev was arrested by Russian security service agents following a search of his home. He faces a 20-year prison sentence, with the potential of a life sentence. Sheykhaliev waits in pre-trial detention in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

Sheykhaliev suffers from high blood pressure. During his time in court, an ambulance was called on his behalf due to an episode of dangerously high blood pressure. The Crimean Solidarity Group has reported that he has not been given adequate treatment for these health concerns while in prison.

Sheykhaliev is among those mentioned in an EU statement on Russian aggression and is also mentioned in a Freedom House statement from 2020.

Advocate: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Advocacy Partner: PEN America


  • On November 24, 2022, Rustam Sheykhaliev, Ruslan Suleymanov, and Osman Arifmemetov were sentenced to 14 years in prison (November 25, 2022, CPJ).
  • Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) released a statement on March 18, 2023, calling for the release of all 14 Crimean Journalists in the Defending Freedoms Project, including Sheykhaliev (March 18, 2023, Senate Foreign Relations Committee).