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Mustafa Dzhemilev

ARMYANSK, Ukraine -- Russia has barred long-time Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev from entering Crimea for the next 13 years.

Russian authorities initially barred Dzhemilev from entering Crimea for five years in March 2014 after Moscow illegally annexed Crimea.

However, a decision by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2019 to extend the ban became public on March 5 during Dzhemilev's ongoing trial -- being held in absentia -- in Russian-controlled Crimea.

Prosecutors at the ongoing trial in the Crimean city of Armyansk have accused Dzhemilev of attempting to illegally enter Crimea, negligent possession of a firearm, and the illegal possession of ammunition.

The 77-year-old Ukrainian lawmaker has rejected all of the charges, calling them politically motivated and linked to his official rejection of Russia's control over Crimea.

Dzhemilev was the chairman of the Crimean Tatar's self-governing assembly -- the Mejlis -- which was banned by pro-Moscow representatives in Crimea after the annexation.

Dzhemilev was a leading human rights activist during the Soviet era and served six jail sentences in Soviet prison camps from 1966 to 1986.

He is also known for going on a 303-day hunger strike -- the longest in the history of the Soviet human rights movement.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they call a campaign of oppression targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar minority and others who opposed Moscow's rule.

The majority of Crimean Tatars opposed the Russian takeover of their historic homeland.

The women demanded that Mayor Baqytzhan Saghyntaev meet with them while chanting, "Saghyntaev, come out!" The mayor sent two emissaries instead.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Dozens of mothers, some of whom have children with medical conditions, have gathered at Almaty's city hall days before International Women's Day to demand city officials increase support to families.

The women entered the building of the city administration on March 5, demanding that Mayor Baqytzhan Saghyntaev meet with them and chanting, "Saghyntaev, come out!"

The women complained that they had been added to the city administration's list for distribution of free apartments to families in need, but had failed to move up despite being on it for years.

The women also demanded more financial and social support for handicapped children.

Saghyntaev did not meet with the women, sending the chairwoman of the city administration's directorate on social issues, Nazira Toghyzbaeva, and the deputy chief of the housing directorate, Ermek Amirov, to talk to the women.

The two officials explained that the state program on the distribution of free apartments to families with lower incomes is being implemented and that all families included on the list can follow the process online. They added, however, that special programs for supporting families with several children, as well as those with handicapped children, have yet to be worked out.

In the capital, Nur-Sultan, dozens of mothers have been demanding increased social allowances since late February. Many have spent several nights camped inside the building of the city administration.

Earlier this week, 32 mothers in Nur-Sultan officially filed their demands with the Ministry of Social Support, which informed them that they will receive an official response in mid-April.

The women answered that they will not leave the city administration building until they receive the responses.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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