A Moscow-imposed court in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea on June 1 sentenced the leader of the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body to six years in prison and issued a fine after finding him guilty of organizing mass riots in 2014 and of issuing calls to violate Russia’s integrity.
Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov, a citizen of Ukraine, was tried in absentia at Crimea’s main court in Simferopol.
He left Crimea shortly after Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014 and is currently living in Kyiv.
The Mejlis was labeled as extremist and banned in Russia following Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.
Russia took control of Crimea 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 some 13,200 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.
Moscow’s takeover of Crimea was fiercely opposed by many Crimean Tatars, who are a sizable minority in the region.
Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Moscow-imposed authorities in Crimea who are targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community and others who have spoken out against the annexation.