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Crimean Tatar Leader Barred From Entering Crimea Until 2034

Mustafa Dzhemilev
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.

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