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Russian court sends Crimean Tatar leader to prison

Ilmi Umerov
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Wednesday sentenced a prominent Crimean Tatar leader to two years in prison for his criticism of the Crimean Peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine by Russia.

After Crimea was seized in 2014, Russia passed a law making it illegal to question or dispute the annexation.

A court in the Russia-occupied Crimea on Wednesday sentenced Ilmi Umerov, former deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars’ Mejlis representative body, to two years in prison for comments he made about the annexation on television. Crimea’s Supreme Court effectively banned the Mejlis in April, declaring it an extremist organization.

His lawyers say the 60-year-old Umerov has diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

A report by the U.N. human rights office this week accused Russia of violating international law in Crimea, including alleged torture, abductions and killings in the peninsula.

Ukraine, which doesn’t recognize the annexation, condemned the ruling. President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday dismissed the verdict as “shameful,” calling Umerov a “hero of his people against whom Moscow used the worst methods of the Soviet repressive machine.”

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