March 24, 2017

Crimean Tatars: Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis Accused of Separatism

Photo courtesy of Alina Smutko/krymr.org (RFE/RL)

Ilmi Umerov, the current deputy chairman of the top legislative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis, has recently been accused of acts of separatism by a court in Russia’s illegaly-annexed Crimea. Mr Ulmerov rejects the charges, claiming his right to free speech. In May 2016, the deputy chairman had already faced such accusations for his declarations against the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia.

Below is an article published by RFE/RL:

A Crimean Tatar leader who has criticized Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula appears likely to face trial soon on what he says are spurious charges of separatism.

Ilmi Umerov, deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis, said he and his lawyer were informed on March 21 that the case against him had been sent to a court in Russia-controlled Crimea.

He also said he has received the final written charges, a step that is often followed within days or weeks by a trial.

Umerov, 59, was charged with separatism in May 2016 after he made public statements opposing Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

He denies the charges, saying he has the right to express his opinions freely.

Russia took control of Crimea after sending in troops and staging a referendum considered by most countries worldwide as illegitimate.

After the takeover, Russia adopted a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia's territorial integrity within what the government considers its borders.

RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena went on trial in Crimea on March 20 on separatism charges he says are unfounded.