13:34 Sep. 7, 2016
Russia accused them of being connected to the prohibited organization Hizb ut-Tahrir
Four Crimean Tatars sentenced to several years in jail for supposedly being connected to prohibited organization. They pleaded not guilty. The men appeared in court with their mouths sealed with duct tape. They wore t-shirts with inscriptions "Crimean Tatars" and "The show is over".
Ruslan Zeitullayev faces the longest imprisonment – 7 years. He is considered to be a group leader. Ferat Saifullayev, Rustem Vaitov and Nuri Primov are sentenced to 5 years in jail. Crimean Tatars' lawyers say Russian court has no evidence of any crimes, committed by the four men.
When the trial started, the prosecutor asked to sentence Zeitullayev to 17 years of high-security prison. The rest of the group should get 7 to 8 years.
Four Crimean Tatars were accused of belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir. This organization is considered extremist and is prohibited in Russia. The men denied their participation and pleaded not guilty.
The suspects were detained in Crimea in January-April 2016.
Russia has been heavily criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of Crimea's indigenous Turkic-speaking people since Moscow annexed the peninsula in March 2014. Arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported.