More Crimean Tatars Handed Lengthy Prison Terms In Russia
By RFE/RL's Crimea.Realities January 11, 2023
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 it.
The Crimean Solidarity human rights organization said Russia's Southern District Military Court in the southwestern city of Rostov-on-Don on January 11 sentenced Servet Gaziyev, Dzhemil Gafarov, Alim Karimov, Seyran Murtaza, and Erfan Osmanov to 13 years in prison each after finding them guilty of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir group.
The court also ruled that after serving their terms, the five men will be placed under parole-like supervision for up to 18 months.
All had pleaded not guilty, saying they did not consider being practicing Muslims a crime.
Yevhen Yaroshenko of the Crimea.SOS human rights group said the day before that Gafarov and Gaziyev, who have serious medical conditions, had been denied medical assistance while in custody and their health had worsened dramatically.
The five men, all of whom are activists of the Crimean Solidarity group, were arrested in March 2019 along with 19 other Crimean Tatars in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russian human rights groups recognized all 24 Crimean Tatars arrested then as political prisoners.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamic group banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.
Since Moscow seized Crimea, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to the Islamic group.
Moscow's occupation 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.
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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