A noted Crimean Tatar activist who has been forced into a psychiatric hospital in Russian-occupied Crimea says the conditions he’s facing are a threat to his physical health.
Ilmi Umerov, the former deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis, was charged with separatism in May after he made public statements opposing Moscow's seizure of the peninsula from Ukraine.
In August, he was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric clinic for a month of assessment tests.
Umerov, 59, spoke to a Reuters reporter who gained access to the hospital in Simferopol, where he’s being held.
Umerov, whose relatives and lawyers say he suffers from diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart problems, said he had been forced to live in squalid, crowded conditions that endangered his health.
"With this bouquet [of ailments], to be in such conditions is of course dangerous," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
He added that on his fourth day at the clinic he collapsed and lost consciousness.
He also said that he had been barred from speaking to journalists.
Human Rights Watch has urged the Russian-backed authorities in Crimea to drop the charges against Umerov and provide him with necessary medical treatment.
The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has called the case against Umerov "illegal and politically motivated."
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has compared Umerov's detention to the Soviet-era practice of holding dissidents in psychiatric hospitals.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP