The Russian authorities in Crimea have sentenced Tatar leader Ahtem Chiygoz to eight years in jail, the maximum demanded by the state prosecutor.
The Tatars held peaceful protests in 2014 when Russian loyalists took over the Ukrainian province by force.
The demonstrations were against the hastily-organised referendum asking people to choose between Russia and Ukraine. Public opposition to this was ruled illegal by the Russians and they accused Chiygoz of stirring up
unrest in which it is claimed two people died.
“Today a Russian court in Crimea gave Ahtem Chiygoz eight years in a high security prison but also recognised him as a Ukrainian citizen. We insisted on complete acquittal. The events took place on February 26, 2014 in Ukraine so are beyond Russian jurisdiction. This trial was used to intimidate the Crimean Tatars,” said defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov.
Since the Russians took over Crimea the Tatars have complained of heavy-handed policing, discrimination, and intimidatory arrests and violence against them.