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Ilmi Umerov

A noted Crimean Tatar activist has been released from a psychiatric hospital in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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 forcible annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.

In August, Umerov was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric clinic for a month of assessment tests.

Umerov's relatives and lawyers said he was released from the clinic on September 7.

The lawyers added that they will seek the transfer of their client, who suffers from heart problems, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, to a cardiology clinic.

Human rights groups have urged the Russia-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."

Meanwhile, a court in southern Russia has jailed four Crimean Tatars on terrorism charges.

The North Caucasus District Military Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don found the four defendants guilty on September 7 of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group and sentenced them to between five and seven years in prison.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is branded as a terrorist organization in Russia.

All four Crimean Tatars pleaded not guilty, claiming the case against them is politically motivated.

They entered the courtroom on September 7 wearing T-shirts with the inscriptions "Crimean Tatars" and "The Show Is Over" printed on them.

The four men were detained in Crimea between January and April and went on trial in June.

Russia has been heavily criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of Crimea's indigenous Turkic-speaking people since Moscow forcibly annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.

Arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS

The international branch of the human rights group Memorial says Russian authorities have begun a surprise audit to determine whether it should be designated as a "foreign agent."

Memorial says the Justice Ministry, acting on orders from the Prosecutor-General's Office, began the check on September 5.

Another branch of the widely respected Moscow-based organization, the Memorial Human Rights Center, was placed on the government's register of "foreign agents" in November 2015.

The new move comes as the Justice Ministry announced on September 5 that it had placed independent pollster Levada Center on the register, potentially threatening its existence.

A 2012 law requires any NGO that receives funding from abroad and engages in political activity to formally register as a "foreign agent."

Russian and international human rights organizations have said the law was introduced to silence independent voices.

Amendments introduced to the law in 2014 allow the Justice Ministry to forcefully add NGOs to the list of "foreign agents." Failure to comply can result in heavy fines and/or jail time.

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