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Russia's FSB Detains Six Crimean Tatars Accused Of Being Hizb ut-Tahrir Members

Activists in Russian-controlled Crimea say six Crimean Tatars have been detained on suspicion of extremism in what the activists and the Ukrainian government say is part of a discriminatory campaign targeting members of the Muslim group.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) branch in Crimea, which Russia occupied and seized from Ukraine in March 2014, said on October 11 that six members of the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, were detained in the city of Bakhchysaray.

It said the detentions took place after searches were conducted in the suspects’ houses.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Russia.

Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov told RFE/RL that the detained men are Marlen Asanov, Server Zekiryayev, Ernest Ametov, Seyran Saliyev, Memet Belyalov, and Timur Ibragimov.

The Crimean Solidarity rights group said that several more Crimean Tatars were also detained while protesting against the searches.

A Crimean activist, Nariman Dzhelalov, said in a video posted on Facebook that the six alleged Hizb ut-Tahrir members are activists known for opposing Moscow's takeover.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maryana Betsa sharply criticized Russia over the detentions.

"Is there a limit to cynicism? More proof of discrimination against Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea. International pressure on the occupier must be increased," Betsa tweeted.

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they call a persistent campaign of oppression targeting members of the indigenous Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar minority and other citizens who opposed Moscow's annexation.

The majority of Crimean Tatars opposed Russia's takeover of their historic homeland.

The searches and detentions on October 11 were held just days after four other Crimean Tatars were arrested on allegations that they were members of Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Muslim movement that is also banned in Russia.

With reporting by Interfax

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