EU calls for release of deputy chair of Crimean Mejlis


MOSCOW, September 12. /TASS/. The European Union condemns the sentence handed to Deputy Chair of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars Akhtem Chiygoz over organizing mass disturbances, a European External Action Service spokesperson said in a statement calling for the convict’s release.

"The European Union has consistently followed the case of Mr Chyigoz and insisted upon his release, a call which we reiterate today," the statement reads. "The banning of the activities of the Mejlis, their self-governing body and the persecution of its leaders, constitute serious and unacceptable violations of their rights," the spokesperson said. "We expect charges against another Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, Mr Ilmi Umerov, to be immediately dropped," the statement adds.

On Monday, Crimea’s Supreme Court sentenced Chiygoz to eight years behind bars over staging mass riots outside the local parliament on February 26, 2014. The defense team plans to file an appeal against the court’s ruling.

According to the case files, on February 26, 2014, two people were killed and another 79 were injured in mass riots during a rally of Mejlis supporters outside the Crimean parliament building. Investigators said Chiygoz had organized the riots, but he pleaded not guilty, branding the case politically motivated.

Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars is an extremist organization outlawed in Russia. The decision on recognizing the Mejlis as an extremist group was made by the Crimean Supreme Court in mid-February 2016 upon the demand of Natalya Poklonskaya, a Russian MP who formerly served as Crimea’s prosecutor. Last September, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the decision.