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European Parliament Condemns Russia's Prosecution Of Crimeans

RFE/RL contributor is one of several Crimean activists who have been convicted for publicly opposing Russia's occupation of the peninsula. m
RFE/RL contributor is one of several Crimean activists who have been convicted for publicly opposing Russia's occupation of the peninsula. m

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has adopted a resolution condemning Russian verdicts against dozens of Crimeans who opposed Moscow's seizure of the peninsula and demanding the release of those who are behind bars.

In a resolution adopted on October 5, the parliament sharply criticized verdicts against nearly 50 Crimean Tatars and other opponents of the Russian occupation and takeover of the Ukrainian Black Sea region in 2014.

It condemned the recent convictions and sentences against Crimean Tatar leaders Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz by Russian-imposed courts on the peninsula, and called for their "immediate and unconditional release."

It also condemned the conviction of Crimean journalist Mykola Semena and demanded that all charges against him be "immediately and unconditionally dropped."

In the resolution, lawmakers urged the European Union to impose sanctions on Crimean and Russian officials who are directly responsible for the cases of Semena, Umerov, and Chigoz.

They called for "unhindered access of international human rights observers, including specialized structures of the UN, OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and [the Council of Europe], to the Crimean Peninsula in order to investigate the situation on the peninsula and for the establishment of [an] independent monitoring mechanism."

Semena, an RFE/RL contributor, was convicted on September 25 on separatism charges and handed a 2 1/2-year suspended sentence and a ban on future journalistic activity.

Umerov was convicted of separatism on September 27 and sentenced to two years in a colony settlement, a penitentiary in which convicts usually live near a factory or farm where they are forced to work.

Chiygoz was convicted on September 11 of organizing an illegal demonstration and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, sending in troops and staging a referendum denounced as illegal by dozens of countries, after Russia-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed from power by mass protests in Kyiv.

The United States and the EU have condemned Russia's prosecution of Crimeans who opposed its seizure of the peninsula.

A UN human rights report issued on September 25 said that Russia's occupation of the region has been marked by disappearances and torture, infringements of the Geneva Conventions, as well as violations of international law.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels
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