The Kremlin-controlled Supreme Court of annexed Crimea sentenced Akhtem Chiygoz, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar people, to 8 years of general regime imprisonment, Krym.Realii reports.
The court made the ruling on September 11, informing Chiygoz’ lawyer Oleksandr Lesovy of the special ruling after multiple delays.
Roughly 100 people came to support Chiygoz in court.
President Petro Poroshenko condemned the sentence, posting on Facebook:
“The Akhtem Chiygoz case is yet another verdict by Russia, who is recognized as an occupier at the highest international level, the UN. You can illegally restrict freedom, but you can never break free will and truth! You can occupy another’s land, but it will burn beneath your feet until it is liberated,” Poroshenko wrote.
Chiygoz was arrested in January 2015 for participating in a rally in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity in front of the Crimean High Council building on 26 February 2014. The protesters were opposed by pro-Russian activists, including members of the Russian Unity party. The Russian authorities of annexed Crimea accuse Chiygoz of organizing mass riots.
The “Chiygoz case” has been considered by the Russian court as part of the 26 February case after it was divided into two separate cases at a closed session on July 20: one concerning Chiygoz, the deputy head of the Mejlis, and the other concerning Ali Asanov and Mustafa Dehermendzhy, two other defendants in the case.
The EU called on Russia to release the deputy head of the Mejlis immediately, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service said in a statement.
“Today the so-called Supreme Court of Simferopol sentenced Mejlis deputy chairman Akhtem Chiygoz to 8 years of imprisonment for ‘organizing mass riots’ in February 2014. The EU has consistently followed Chiygoz’s case and insists on his release, we repeat this appeal today,” the announcement states.
The report says that the prohibition of the Mejlis’s activity, its self-government organs and consequently its leaders is a serious and unacceptable violation of their rights. The EU also expects the immediate withdrawal of the charges against Ilmi Umerov, another deputy head of the Mejlis, and once again affirms its position that all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens on the Crimean peninsula and in Russia must be released immediately.