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Four Crimean Tatars Held For 'Membership' In Banned Islamic Group

  • RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Russia-backed Crimean authorities have detained four Crimean Tatars on suspicion of being members of an Islamic group that is banned in Russia.

Crimea's de facto prosecutor-general, Natalia Poklonskaya, said the four men detained on May 12 were suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which Russia designates a terrorist organization.

She said three were being investigated for participating in the activities of a terrorist organization, and one was being investigated for organizing terrorist activities.

A leader of the Crimean Tatars, Zair Smedlya, and human rights lawyer Emil Kuberdinov condemned the detention of the four men, calling it the "continuation of repression against the Crimean Tatars" by pro-Russia authorities in the Ukrainian peninsula.

The arrests occurred during a visit by Russia's recently appointed presidential human rights ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova, to the peninsula.

Several Crimean Tatars were arrested earlier this year for allegedly being Hizb ut-Tahrir members, a move Tatar activists called "politically motivated.”

Russia has been heavily criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of the Crimean Tatars since Moscow annexed the peninsula in March 2014.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Sunni political organization, seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate. It says it does not advocate violence.