Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Russia-Imposed Court In Crimea Sentences Crimean Tatar Leader To 17 Years In Prison.

Nariman Dzhelyal in a Simferopol courtroom in September 2021.

Nariman Dzhelyal in a Simferopol courtroom in September 2021.

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- The de facto Supreme Court of Russia-annexed Crimea has sentenced Crimean Tatar leader Nariman Dzhelyal to 17 years in prison on a sabotage charge that he and his supporters call politically motivated.
The court on September 21 also sentenced two other defendants in the case, brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov, to 15 years in prison each. The court also ordered the three men to pay hefty fines. 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 urged Russia to release them. Dzhelyal is deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar's self-governing assembly -- the Mejlis -- which was banned by pro-Moscow representatives in Crimea after the annexation in 2014. The arrest of Dzhelyal and his colleagues immediately sparked a protest outside the Crimean office of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) that ended with the detention of more than 50 people.
Russian news agency Interfax reported at the time that the criminal investigation against Dzhelyal and his associates 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 after the three men's arrests that their detention 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.” Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 following a disputed referendum that was widely believed to be falsified.

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