VLASIKHA, Russia -- A Russian military appeals court has upheld the sentence of Airat Dilmukhametov, a prominent opposition activist from the Republic of Bashkortostan who was sentenced to nine years in prison on extremism charges.
The court in the town of Vlasikha near Moscow on December 4 rejected the appeal filed by Dilmukhametov, who has insisted that the case against him is politically motivated.
The charge against Dilmukhametov stems from a video statement he made in 2018 urging the creation of a "real" federation in Russia with more autonomous rights given to ethnic republics and regions.
Debates over ethnic rights and regional autonomy are especially sensitive in Bashkortostan -- with its sizable populations of Tatars, Bashkirs, and ethnic Russians -- particularly since President Vladimir Putin ordered an end to the ability of Russia's ethnic regions and republics to mandate regional language instruction in schools.
Dilmukhametov was arrested in March 2019; in August of this year, he was convicted of issuing public calls to violate Russia's territorial integrity and for making public calls for extremism and to support terrorism.
The extremism and terrorism charges are linked to his criticism of regional authorities for incarcerating several Bashkirs on charges of belonging to a banned Islamic group and his public statements about a conflict between local residents and workers from Chechnya in the village of Temas.
In May, the Supreme Court of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostanbanned a group, called Bashqort, which for years has promoted Bashkir language and culture as well as equal rights for ethnic Bashkirs.