Another Group Of Crimean Tatars Given Lengthy Prison Terms In Russia

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A court in Russia has sentenced five Crimean Tatars to lengthy prison terms on charges of being members of a banned Islamic group and plotting to seize power amid an ongoing crackdown against the ethnic group.

On March 10, Russia's Southern District Military Court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced journalist Remzi Bakirov and rights activist Riza Izetov to 19 years in prison each after finding them guilty of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group, organizing the group’s activities, and planning to seize power.

Activists Farkhod Bazarov, Raim Ayvazov, and Shaban Umerov were sentenced to 15 years, 17 years, and 18 years in prison, respectively, on the same charges.

All five activists pleaded not guilty.

Since Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to the Islamic group that is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.

Moscow’s takeover of the peninsula was vocally opposed by many Crimean Tatars, who are a sizable minority in the region.

Exiled from their homeland to Central Asia by Soviet authorities under the dictatorship of Josef Stalin during World War II, many Crimean Tatars are very wary of Russia and Moscow's rule.