Russia Detains 11 Crimean Tatars

The Russian authorities in the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea have sentenced 10 Crimean Tatars to five days of administrative arrest after convicting them of holding an illegal public gathering.

The decision came late on February 21 after the defendants were arrested earlier the same day while taking photographs and videos of a search conducted by Russian police in the home of Crimean Tatar activist and lawyer Marlen Mustafayev.

Mustafayev was sentenced to 11 days of administrative arrest on the same charges as the 10 other detainees. Mustafayev's wife told RFE/RL that police confiscated her husband's computer and some books. No explanations were given, she says.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group reported that the defendants were not afforded legal representation.

Russia has been sharply criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of Crimea's indigenous Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim Crimean Tatar population since Moscow illegally annexed the Ukrainian region in March 2014.

Arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported, and Crimean Tatar self-government organizations have been declared illegal.