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Freed Crimean Tatar leaders announce plans to return to Crimea

October 26, 2017, 14:12 UTC+3 KIEV

On Wednesday, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who had been found guilty of separatism, were released and departed for Turkey, according to their lawyer

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KIEV, October 26. /TASS/. Leaders of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, an extremist organization outlawed in Russia, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, have unveiled plans to return to Crimea.

On Wednesday, Umerov and Chiygoz, deputy chairs of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis who had been found guilty of separatism, were released and departed for Turkey, their lawyer Nikolai Polozov told TASS.

"At least, I didn’t give any promises that I won’t make any attempts. I will definitely try to come back to Crimea," Umerov told a press conference in Turkey’s Ankara.

Umerov stressed that he and Akhtem Chiygoz were not guilty. Later in the day, the two men are expected to travel to Ukraine.

Chiygoz was sentenced to 8 years in colony as part of a case into mass riots outside the Crimean parliament in February 2014. The Supreme Court of Crimea found that during a rally by supporters of the Mejlis, Chiygoz staged mass riots, in which two people were killed and 79 others were injured.

Umerov was sentenced to 2 years in colony. According to investigators, Umerov, who stayed on the territory of Ukraine in March 2016, publicly voiced calls in a live broadcast of the Ukrainian TV Channel ATR for the need to violate Russia’s territorial integrity. Umerov’s words were disseminated in the Internet and were the cause for launching criminal proceedings against him.

Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars is an extremist organization outlawed in Russia. The decision on recognizing the Mejlis as an extremist group was made by the Crimean Supreme Court in mid-February 2016 upon the demand of Natalya Poklonskaya, a Russian MP who formerly served as Crimea’s prosecutor. Last September, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the decision.

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