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Amnesty International Decries 'Systematic Persecution" Of Crimean Tatars Under Russian Rule

Russian authorities have barred the Tatar assembly, the Mejlis, from operating in Crimea (file photo)
Russian authorities have barred the Tatar assembly, the Mejlis, from operating in Crimea (file photo)

Amnesty International has decried what it called Russia's "systematic persecution" of the Crimean Tatars since "the occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation" in 2014.

In a December 15 report, the London-based rights group said Russian authorities use "repressive tactics... against the Crimean Tatar community and other dissenting voices."

The report also said that "Russia imposed its legislation wholesale on the Crimean territory - in breach of international law -- which has enabled the authorities to pursue key figures in the Tatar community on trumped-up antiextremism and other charges."

It criticized steps Moscow has taken against the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis. Russian authorities have barred the Mejlis from operating in Crimea, labeling it as an "extremist organization" and criminalizing any association with it.

"All restrictions on the Mejlis must be lifted, and criminal proceedings designed to harass and intimidate its members, and others that peacefully oppose the Russian occupation and annexation should cease," said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Program.

The majority of Crimea's indigenous people, Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatars, opposed the peninsula's annexation by Moscow in March 2014.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine after flooding the peninsula with troops to secure key facilities, taking control of the regional legislature, and staging a referendum denounced as illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and a total of 100 UN member states.

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised in 2014 to respect the interests of the Crimean Tatars. But Moscow has barred several leading members of the Tatar community from entering Crimea, and arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported since the annexation.

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