A kremlin-controlled court in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea on Tuesday sentenced the leader of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body Mejlis 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.
“The ‘Supreme Court of Crimea’, controlled by the Russian occupying power, illegally sentenced Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov to six years in a maximum-security penal colony, 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay a fine of RUB 200,000 for alleged plotting mass riots near the Crimean Parliament building on February 26, 2014,” Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova wrote on Facebook.
On that day, a rally of thousands of Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian activists in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity took place, marking the start of resistance to the Russian occupation, and Chubarov was among those who came to the Crimean Parliament building.
“I do not recognize the ruling of the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea! I would like to emphasize that Refat Chubarov has been deprived of the right to a fair trial, access to justice, and effective legal protection since the beginning of this rigged trial, which is a direct violation of Articles 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Denisova added.
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 annexed the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014 and is currently living in Kyiv. The Mejlis was labelled 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.