Economy

Crimean Tatar Leader Sentenced To Eight Years In Prison

Akthem Chiygoz had been one of the leading voices against the annexation of Crimea to Russian Federation, by coordinating street demonstrations in the run up to the referendum in 2014.

Chiygoz was convicted in connection with a demonstration by thousands of Tatars in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, as fears grew that Russian Federation would try to annex the peninsula from Ukraine in the wake of protests in Kiev that drove out the Russia-friendly Ukrainian president.

"One can unlawfully confine someone's freedom, but it's impossible to break the will! You can occupy another's land, but it will burn beneath your feet and seethe until it is liberated".

There was no immediate comment from Russian authorities. The European Union condemns the sentence handed to Deputy Chair of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars Akhtem Chiygoz over organizing mass disturbances, a European External Action Service spokesperson said in a statement calling for the convict's release.

The Crimean Tatars are a Muslim people native to Crimea who were deported under Stalin and only returned to the peninsula in the 1990s.

The case against Chiigoz is seen as part of Moscow's crackdown on the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group, following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014. But Russian President Vladimir Putin justified it, saying he needed to protect its overwhelmingly pro-Moscow population from Ukrainian nationalists.

His lawyer Nikolai Polozov blasted the ruling by the Crimean court "unlawful and unfounded" and said they meant to appeal to Russia's supreme court. Last September, Russia's Supreme Court upheld the decision. His team would seek Chiygoz's extradition to Ukraine, he added.



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