EU condemns sentencing of Crimean Tatar leaders

Bloc calls for ‘immediate, unconditional’ release of Tatar politicians

2022-09-22 14:39:15

BRUSSELS

The European Union on Thursday deplored the sentencing of Crimean Tatar leaders, and called for their release.

“The European Union condemns the so-called ‘sentence', issued yesterday in the illegally annexed Crimea by illegitimate Russian authorities, against First Deputy Head of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People Nariman Dzhelial, as well as brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov,” Peter Stano, the chief spokesperson of the EU diplomatic service, said in a statement.

He urged Moscow to “immediately and unconditionally” release the Tatar leaders, whose detention last September was “illegal and politically motivated,” as well as all Ukrainians who are captured by Russia.

He underlined that “Crimean Tatars have been increasingly targeted by Russia, particularly in the context of Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.”

The EU also calls on Russia to comply with its international obligations and stop human rights abuses against Crimean Tatars, the statement added.

The document reiterated the bloc's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty and ruled out recognizing the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia.

Speaking at the second International Crimea Platform Conference in August, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen expressed deep concerns about “the disappearances, the torture, the killings, the persecution of Crimea and Tartars,” as well as the intimidation of journalists, lawyers and civil society activists.

The EU has applied different sanctions regimes in response to the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol in 2014.

The bloc has also slapped seven sets of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the country's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.