Crimea's Russian-backed leader, Sergei Aksyonov, says the self-governing body of the peninsula's Crimean Tatar community, the Mejlis (Assembly), does not exist.
Aksyonov's remarks come days after law enforcement authorities seized the Mejlis building in the regional capital, Simferopol, increasing pressure on a minority group that largely opposed Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March.
In an interview published in the Russian daily Kommersant on September 22, Aksyonov said "there is no such organization as the Mejlis."
He said the assembly "has never been properly registered."
Aksyonov said he would "expel from Crimea anyone who incites ethnic hatred."
Two Crimean Tatar leaders have been barred from the peninsula since its annexation on the grounds that their activities incite ethnic hatred.
A court hearing on a Crimean Tatar appeal against the impoundment of the Mejlis is set for September 29.
Based on Aksyonov's interview to Kommersant