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Court In Russia-Annexed Crimea Releases Crimean Tatar Activist On Trial

Crimean Tatar activist Edem Bekirov (file photo)

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- A court in Ukraine's Russia-annexed Crimea has released from detention a Crimean Tatar activist, who is on trial for alleged illegal explosive possession and transportation, a charge he has strongly denied.

The Central District Court in Simferopol ruled on August 27 that Edem Bekirov must be released from custody on condition that he will be attending his trial.

The detention center's medical personnel asked the court to release Bekirov due to his medical condition.

Bekirov was arrested in December after a man told Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) that he had asked him to keep 12 kilograms of explosives and ammunition.

Bekirov has denied the accusations, saying they were lies.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on June 11 that Bekirov must be transferred to a civil hospital because of his health condition.

The Moscow-based Memorial human rights group has declared Bekirov a political prisoner.

Since Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars on various charges.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea who are targeting members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community and others who have come out against Moscow's takeover of the peninsula.

Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 after sending in troops, seizing key facilities, and staging a referendum dismissed as illegal by at least 100 countries.

Moscow also backs separatists in a war against government forces that has killed some 13,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.