Another Crimean Tatar Handed Lengthy Prison Term In Russia On Extremism Charge


A court in Russia has sentenced Crimean Tatar activist Azamat Eyupov to a lengthy prison term after convicting him of organizing the activities of a banned Islamic group amid an ongoing crackdown on the ethnic group that has been critical of Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea.

The human rights group Crimean Solidarity said on July 19 that Russia's Southern District Military Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced the activist to 17 years in prison.

According to the group, the court ruled that Eyupov, who pleaded not guilty, must serve the first three years of his term in prison, while the rest of his term is to be served in a maximum-security penal colony.

Eyupov was arrested in February along with several other Crimean Tatar activists after their homes in Crimea were searched by the Russian-imposed authorities. They were later charged with being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group that is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.

Since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

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 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, including the United States and most European states.

Eyupov's sentence was pronounced as Russia continues its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24.