Russia Bars Imprisoned Crimean Tatar From Seeing Dying Mother

Supporters of Akhtem Chiygoz, the head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis who has been held by Russian authorities since January 2015, say a Russian court in the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea has rejected a request that Chiygoz be allowed to see his mother, who is reportedly dying of cancer.

The Russian-installed High Court of Crimea made the ruling on June 15, although Chiygoz's lawyers said doctors say his mother, Aliye Abduraimovna, most likely has only days to live.

Chiygoz is charged with organizing an illegal demonstration in the Crimean capital of Simferopol on February 26, 2014, outside the Crimean parliament. Lawyers say the charges are absurd because the demonstration came before Moscow's annexation of the Ukrainian region and no Ukrainian laws were violated.

Some analysts have argued that the massive demonstration forced Moscow to use its own military personnel to carry out the annexation instead of relying on local supporters.

Chiygoz, 52, and two other Crimean Tatars charged in connection with the demonstration -- Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy -- have been declared political prisoners by Russia's Memorial human rights group.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations have called for their release.