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Russian Prosecutors Seek 15 Years In Prison For Crimean Tatar Leader, Activists.

Asan Akhtemov (left) and Nariman Dzhelal (file photo)

Asan Akhtemov (left) and Nariman Dzhelal (file photo)

Russian prosecutors have asked a court in Russian-occupied Crimea to convict and sentence Crimean Tatar leader Nariman Dzhelyal and two activists, brothers Asan and Akhtem Akhmetov, to 15 years in prison each.

Dzhelyal's lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said on August 17 that the prosecutors also asked Crimea's Supreme Court to impose hefty fines on each of the defendants and order them to serve the first three years of their sentences in a maximum-security prison.

Dzhelyal and his co-defendants were arrested in early September 2021 on suspicion of involvement in an attack on a gas pipeline.

Ukraine has called the charges against the activists fabricated while the United States has called for Russia to release them.

Dzhelyal is deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar's self-governing assembly, the Mejlis, which was banned in Crimea after Russia annexed it from Ukraine in 2014.

The arrest of Dzhelyal and his colleagues immediately sparked a protest outside the Crimean office of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which ended with the detention of more than 50 people.

Russian news agency Interfax in September reported that the criminal investigation against Dzhelyal relates to a gas pipeline that was damaged on August 23 in a village near Crimea's capital, Simferopol.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar said at the time that the detention of the men was Moscow's "revenge" for Dzhelyal's participation in a Kyiv conference that month dedicated to the "de-occupation" of Crimea.

The event had been decried by Moscow as "anti-Russian."

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