Five More Crimean Tatar Activists Handed Lengthy Prison Terms In Russia

By Crimea.Realities

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A court in Russia has sentenced another group of Crimean Tatars to lengthy prison terms on charges of being members of a banned Islamic group amid an ongoing crackdown on representatives of such groups.

The Crimean Solidarity human rights group said Russia's Southern District Military Court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don on May 12 sentenced Tofik Abdulgaziyev, Vladlen Abduklkadyrov, Izzet Abdullayev, and Medzhit Abdurakhmanov to 12 years in prison each.

Bilyal Adilov was handed a 14-year prison term. All had pleaded not guilty.

The five men, all of whom are activists of the Crimean Solidarity group, were arrested in March 2019 along with more than a dozen other Crimean Tatars in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed the region from Ukraine in 2014. Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamic group banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar condemned the court ruling, calling it "further proof of Russia's deliberate policy of the annihilation of Crimean Tatars in Crimea."

"Russia must cancel the decision of the so-called 'court,' release all illegally held Ukrainian citizens, and stop the political persecution and repression of representatives of the Crimean Tatar people," Dzheppar wrote on Twitter.

Since Moscow seized Crimea, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to the Islamic group.

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.