KYIV -- Police in Ukraine's Russia-occupied Crimea region have searched the homes of a Crimean Tatar activist and his mother -- the latest in an ongoing crackdown by Russian authorities against members of the Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar community.
Crimean Solidarity, a rights group that has members in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, said Russian police and security officers on June 19 searched the homes of Akseit Dzhandzhakov and his mother in the village of Sary-Su in Crimea's central Bilohirsk district.
The rights group quoted Dzhandzhakov's relatives as saying he was absent during the search.
It was not immediately clear why the searches were conducted, and the Russian-imposed authorities have not commented on the operations.
The searches came a day after a court in Russia sentenced five Crimean Tatars to prison terms ranging from 12 to 17 years after finding them guilty of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine.
Last week, eight other Crimean Tatars also were arrested by Russian authorities in the occupied region and charged with belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Since Russia seized and illegally annexed the region in 2014, Russian authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for allegedly belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir.
In March and April alone, Russia's Federal Security Service detained 24 Crimean Tatars on suspicion of being members of the group following a wave of similar house-to-house searches.
Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities against Crimean Tatars and others who have spoken out against Moscow's military seizure and occupation of the peninsula.
In its annual global report on freedom of religion, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said on April 29 that "Russian authorities continued to kidnap, torture, and imprison Crimean Tatar Muslims at will" in Russia-occupied Crimea.