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The OSCE flag is seen during a monitoring mission in Ukraine. (file photo)

The U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued a harshly worded statement accusing Russia of "ongoing violations of international law" in Ukraine.

The statement posted on February 1 said Moscow's "aggression" in eastern Ukraine has resulted in "the ongoing conflict that has cost the lives of over 10,000 Ukrainians." It again called on Moscow "and its proxies" to allow international humanitarian assistance into the conflict areas.

"If Russia wants to help address the humanitarian crisis it created, it should…contribute to the UN's Humanitarian Response Plan," the statement said.

The U.S. statement also expressed concern for those "brave enough to speak out against Russia's occupation of Crimea," particularly Crimean Tatars. It said Crimean Tatars are persecuted "with impunity" and cited "ongoing raid on Tatar homes" and arrests "on trumped-up charges."

Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014, prompting international condemnation and sanctions.

The U.S. statement noted that Russian officials have said the conflict in Ukraine is tantamount to a "civil war."

"We all know the truth -- the brutal war in Donbas is fomented and perpetuated by Russia," the statement countered.

The statement concluded by saying: "We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia's occupation and purported annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine."

Ruslan Shaveddinov (file photo)

A Moscow court has sentenced a prominent associate of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to eight days in jail on charges of participating in an illegal demonstration.

Ruslan Shaveddinov, who hosts video programs on Navalny's YouTube channel, was pronounced guilty and sentenced on January 31, one day after he and Navalny's press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, were detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

The court's ruling stressed that Shaveddinov's violations were committed "with the goal of forming a negative image of one of the registered candidates" for the March 18 presidential election, evidently referring to incumbent President Vladimir Putin.

Yarmysh is facing similar charges and could be sentenced to up to 10 days in jail when her case is heard.

On January 28, Shaveddinov and Yarmysh hosted an Internet broadcast covering a Navalny-organized national protest calling on Russians to boycott the election. The broadcast was produced in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

Navalny, who is barred from participating in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction that he says is politically motivated, has said the election amounts to "the reappointment" of Putin, who has ruled Russia as either president or prime minister since 2000.

Navalny was himself arrested on his way to the January 28 protest in Moscow and was later released pending a court hearing.

At least 350 people were detained nationwide.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy

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