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Pre-Verdict Detention Of Crimean Tatar Activist On Trial Prolonged

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has deemed Ahtem Chiygoz a political prisoner. 

SIMFEROPOL -- A court in Russia-controlled Crimea has prolonged the pre-verdict detention of Crimean Tatar activist Ahtem Chiygoz, who is on trial in connection with resistance to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Chiygoz's lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, told RFE/RL on June 22 that Crimea's Russia-installed High Court agreed to a prosecutor's request to prolong the defendant's pre-verdict detention for another three months, until October 8.

Polozov said he had asked the court to release his client, citing various reasons, including the fact that Chiygoz'’s mother is terminally ill.

On June 20, following protests by supporters and rights activists, authorities allowed Chiygoz to have a 10-minute visit with his mother.

Chiygoz is charged with organizing public disorder. His trial started in October.

He was detained in January 2015 in connection with unrest outside the Crimean parliament on February 26, 2014, when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian activists.

The next day, armed men in uniforms without insignia seized the parliament building and a selected group of legislators voted to join Russia several days later.

After sending in troops, Russia cemented its control over Crimea in March 2014 by staging a referendum condemned as illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and a total of 100 UN member states.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has deemed Chiygoz a political prisoner.

Rights groups say Crimean Tatars and others who opposed Russia's takeover have faced discrimination and abuse at the hands of the Moscow-imposed authorities.