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SIMFEROPOL, September 11. /TASS/. Crimea’s Supreme Court on Monday sentenced a deputy chairman of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars that is outlawed in Russia to eight years behind bars over staging mass riots outside the local parliament on February 26, 2014, a TASS correspondent reported.
"The court ruled to find Akhtem Chiygoz guilty as part of Article 212.1 of the Russian Criminal Code ("Organizing mass riots") and sentence him to eight years in a general regime colony," the judge said.
Chiygoz listened to the sentence in a pre-trial detention center via a video link-up. Video and photo coverage was not allowed. Ahead of the hearing, security was beefed up outside the court building.
Attorney Emil Kurbedinov told reporters that he plans to appeal the sentence.
According to the case files, on February 26, 2014 two people were killed and another 79 were injured in mass riots during a rally of Mejlis supporters outside the Crimean parliament building. Investigators said Chiygoz had organized the riots, but he pleaded not guilty, branding the case politically motivated.
Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars is an extremist organization outlawed in Russia. The decision on recognizing Mejlis as an extremist group was made by the republic’s Supreme Court in mid-February 2016 upon the demand of Natalya Poklonskaya, a Russian MP who formerly served as Crimea’s prosecutor. Last September, the Supreme Court upheld the decision, which entered into force.