Ukrainian Ombudswoman Condemns Russia's Arrest Of Four Crimean Tatars In Crimea

By Crimea.Realities

KYIV -- Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova has condemned the latest arrests of four Crimean Tatar activists in Russian-occupied Crimea, calling the actions of the Moscow-imposed authorities "illegal."

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) officers detained Ansar Osmanov, Ernest Seytosmanov, Marlen Mustafayev, and Ametkhan Abdulvapov on February 9 on a charge of organizing the activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group. Later in the day, the four men were placed in pretrial detention until at least April 7.

Denisova called on the international community to "react to the illegal actions of occupying authorities and increase pressure on the Russian Federation to stop its violation of human rights on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea."

The same day, a court in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, prolonged the pretrial detention of five other Crimean Tatars until at least March 16. The five are charged along with 19 other Crimean Tatars of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has recognized all 24 as political prisoners.

Since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir, an 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 under the Soviet dictatorship of Josef Stalin during World War II, many Crimean Tatars are very wary of Russia and Moscow's rule.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea who are targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community and others who have spoken out against Moscow's takeover of the peninsula.

Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after sending in troops, seizing key facilities, and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

Moscow also backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed more than 13,200 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.