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Protests in Five Russian Cities Demand Tatar Activist's Release

Protesters in four regions of Russian that are home to non-Russian ethnic groups have demonstrated to demand the release of a jailed Tatar activist, Rafis Kashapov.

Dozens of people took part in the single-person protests on January 14 in two cities in Tatarstan -- the capital, Kazan, and Chally -- as well as the capitals of Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, and Mari El.

They held posters saying: "Freedom for Rafis Kashapov!" and "Freedom for all political prisoners!"

Under Russian legislation, single-person protests do not require advance permission from the authorities.

Picketers told RFE/RL that the action was organized by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Russia -- a nongovernmental group that defends the rights of native peoples across the Russian Federation.

Kashapov, a prominent Tatar activist, was arrested in late December and charged with inciting ethnic, racial, and religious hatred via the Internet.

Kashapov has harshly criticized Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year and Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

His supporters say the charges against him are politically motivated.