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Russian Court Sentences Three Crimean Tatars To Prison Terms On Extremism Charges

The men were sentenced in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A court in Russia has sentenced three Crimean Tatars to lengthy prison terms on charges of being members of a banned Islamic group.

The Southern Military Regional court in the city of Rostov-on-Don on November 3 sentenced Rustem Emiruseinov to 17 years, Arsen Abkhaitov to 13 years, and Eskendir Abulganiyev to 12 years in prison.

The three men were found guilty of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic, a group that has been labeled as extremist and banned in Russia, but is legal in Ukraine.

They were arrested in February last year after police searched their homes in Ukraine's Russia-annexed Crimea.

Some 200 people gathered in front of the court's building on November 3 to support the defendants. Police detained several of the gathered people, including three journalists.

Less than two months earlier, in mid-September, the same court sentenced seven Crimean Tatars to lengthy prison terms on the same charges.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they called a persistent campaign of oppression targeting Crimean Tatars and other citizens who opposed Moscow's annexation.

Russia occupied and seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

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