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Thursday 11 July 2019

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The activists had gathered in front of Moscow's Supreme Court building on July 11 to show solidarity with four Crimean Tatars sentenced to lengthy prison terms on terrorism charges that critics say are bogus.

MOSCOW -- Police in Moscow have detained dozens of demonstrators who rallied in front of the Supreme Court to show solidarity with four Crimean Tatars sentenced to lengthy prison terms on terrorism charges.

The activists gathered in front of the Supreme Court building on July 11, when the court began looking into appeals by four Crimean Tatars sentenced to prison terms between nine and 17 years in December for being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group.

Almost all demonstrators were detained by police and taken away in buses.

OVD-Info, an independent group that monitors police crackdowns against demonstrators in Russia, says at least 45 demonstrators were detained.

A day earlier, police detained seven activists who were protesting in Moscow's Red Square against the treatment of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine's Russian-occupied region of Crimea.

Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in Russia after Kremlin authorities deemed it to be a "terrorist" organization. It is not banned in Ukraine.

But Moscow has imposed its own laws on the Crimean Peninsula since Russian military forces seized the territory from Ukraine and Moscow illegally annexed the region in early 2014.

In June, a court in Russia sentenced five Crimean Tatars to prison terms ranging from 12 to 17 years after finding them guilty of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Also in June, eight other Crimean Tatars were arrested by Russian-installed authorities in Crimea and charged with belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Since Russian forces occupied Crimea in late February of 2014, the authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars on charges of belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir.

In March and April, Russia's Federal Security Service detained 24 Crimean Tatars on suspicion of being members of the group following a wave of similar house-to-house searches.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities against Crimean Tatars and others who have spoken out against Moscow's military seizure and occupation of the peninsula.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was given a 10-day jail sentence on July 1.

MOSCOW -- Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny has been released from jail after serving the 10 days he was sentenced to for attending an unsanctioned protest.

Navalny told journalists after he left a Moscow jail on July 11 that his incarceration was illegal, as was the jailing of other activists for taking part in a rally intended to maintain pressure on authorities following the arrest of a journalist in June.

Navalny also vowed to start supporting independent candidates who are facing problems registering to run in the September election to the Moscow City Duma.

Navalny was sentenced to 10 days in jail on July 1 after a Moscow court ruled that he had repeatedly violated the law by organizing and participating in unsanctioned public events.

Investigators said then that Navalny chanted political slogans on June 12 while taking part in a march in Moscow to support investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, who had been arrested earlier in the month on a drug charge that was widely considered to have been fabricated.

He was among more than 200 people detained for participating in the public gathering that was not permitted by city authorities.

In a surprising reversal, Golunov was released on June 11 and the charges against him were dropped.

It was the first jail sentence given to the vocal Kremlin foe this year.

He had been sentenced to jail 12 times in recent years and served more than 200 days in incarceration.

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