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Russian Authorities Detain Crimean Tatar Protesters In Crimea

A Crimean Tatar man carries out a single-person protest against Russia's occupation of Crimea on October 14.
A Crimean Tatar man carries out a single-person protest against Russia's occupation of Crimea on October 14.

Dozens of people have been detained in the Russia-occupied Ukrainian region of Crimea for demonstrating in defense of Crimean Tatars.

Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov said on October 14 that more than 100 people had staged one-person protests across Crimea earlier in the day and that at least 34 had been detained, even though one-person protests do not require advance permission from officials.

The Russian authorities in Crimea reported that 49 people had been detained, according to the Russian website Meduza. The Russian police statement said all the detainees had been released after "precautionary conversations."

The protesters held signs with slogans including "Stop the arrests, searches, and robbery of Muslims" and "Muslims are not terrorists."

"The detentions violated the right of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of speech and the free expression of opinion," Olha Skripnik, head of the Crimean Human Rights Group, told RFE/RL. "This was a peaceful action that did not present any danger.... One-person pickets -- which these people have been forced to adopt -- are not restricted even by the Russian laws that are de facto operating in Crimea."

On October 11, six Crimean Tatars were arrested in the city of Bakhchisarai and accused of membership in Hizb ut-Tahir, an Islamic organization that is legal in Ukraine, but banned by Russian authorities.

The Crimean Solidarity rights group said that several other Crimean Tatars were detained while protesting against those arrests.

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 2014 annexation of their historic homeland.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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