Crimean Tatar Leader Faces Trial On Russia-Controlled Peninsula

A Crimean Tatar leader who has criticized Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula is expected to go on trial within weeks.

Ilmi Umerov, deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis, said on Facebook that investigators from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) told his lawyers on March 1 that they had wrapped up their case.

Umerov's lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, said defense attorneys were given a March 7 deadline to read the case materials -- which he said consisted of three 250-page volumes.

Kurbedinov said the trial will start in about a month.

Umerov, 59, was charged with separatism in May 2016, after he made public statements opposing Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

He denies the charges, saying he has the right to express his opinions freely.