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Another Crimean Tatar Detained In Russian-Occupied Crimea

The detained man is a defense witness in the ongoing trial of Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev.
The detained man is a defense witness in the ongoing trial of Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev.

Moscow-imposed authorities in Ukraine's Crimea region have detained another Crimean Tatar after his home was searched.

The Crimean Solidarity public group said that police detained Eldar Menseitov on September 7 after searching his home in the town of Molodizhne, near the Crimean capital, Simferopol.

Menseitov is a defense witness in the ongoing trial in absentia of veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev. Dzhemilev is charged with illegally crossing the border, possession of an illegal firearm, and negligence while keeping a firearm.

Dzhemilev, who is a Ukrainian lawmaker, and his supporters have rejected the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova also condemned Menseitov's detainment, calling it the continuation of "Russia's practice of shameful repression of the Crimean Tatar people."

"I demand the Russian Federation immediately stop persecuting the indigenous people of the Crimean Peninsula and releases all illegally held citizens of Ukraine,” Denisova's statement on Facebook said.

Menseitov is a former deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars’ self-governing body, Mejlis, which was labeled as extremist and banned by Russia-imposed authorities.

Menseitov's detainment came the same day Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) publicly accused five other Crimean Tatars detained over the weekend of sabotaging a gas pipeline.

The FSB claimed on September 7 that Ukrainian military intelligence procured an explosive device and promised a cash reward of $2,000 to the men to plant it at the pipeline. A day earlier, Ukraine dismissed the charges against the five men as fabricated.

Since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group, which is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.

Moscow's takeover of the peninsula was vocally opposed by many Crimean Tatars, who are a sizable minority in the region.

Exiled from their homeland to Central Asia by the Soviet authorities under dictator Josef Stalin during World War II, many Crimean Tatars are very wary of Moscow's rule.

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 spoken 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 more than 13,200 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.