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The article offers an analysis of the paradoxes and dilemmas in the relations between Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (hti) and the Ukrainian state prior to and after the 2014 annexation of Crimea. In the first place, it traces the representations of hti by Ukrainian officials in the 2000s and early 2010s, as well as various measures adopted by the government for dealing with the group’s proliferation among Crimean Muslims. On the basis of this, the article reviews the responses of various Ukrainian government bodies and law enforcement agencies to the criminal prosecution of hti as a terrorist organisation by the Russian authorities in Crimea in the post-annexation period. In this respect, it demonstrates how hti cases were used as an important element in Ukraine’s strategy of returning control over the peninsula by rallying extensive international support against Russia’s violations of human rights. At the same time, it is an argument of this paper that, despite vocal protests against arrests and long prison sentences for the Crimean hizbis, the Ukrainian state and law enforcement remained deeply ambivalent vis-à-vis hti as a transnational Islamist organisation – a state of affairs which became particularly evident in the treatment of Russian and Central Asian hti members who sought political asylum in Ukraine.

In: Die Welt des Islams
Free access
In: Journal of Muslims in Europe