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PACE hails release of Crimean Tatar leaders in Russia

October 26, 12:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Deputy chairs of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis were released and departed for Turkey

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MOSCOW, October 26. /TASS/. President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Stella Kyriakides has welcomed the release of leaders of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, an extremist organization outlawed in Russia.

"I welcome the release of Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov. As representatives of the Mejlis, an important and traditional structure of the Crimean Tatar Community, their liberation is a step in the right direction," Kyriakides said in a statement.

"I very much hope that the release of these two leaders will be soon followed by others," she said.

The PACE chief also called on Russia to "remove all restrictions which limit the free functioning of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis."

On Wednesday, lawyer Nikolai Polozov told TASS that his clients Umerov and Chiygoz, who are deputy chairs of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, were released and departed for Turkey.

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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