Ukraine’s MFA on the so-called “sentence” issued to Nariman Dzhelyal and brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the shameful “sentence” issued today to First Deputy Head of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People Nariman Dzhelyal as well as brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov by the occupying administration in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

Nariman Dzhelyal was sentenced to 17 years in prison with a fine of 700 thousand rubles. Asan Akhtemov was sentenced to 15 years in prison with a fine of 500 thousand rubles. Aziz Akhtemov was sentenced to 13 years in prison with a fine of 500 thousand rubles.

Nariman Dzhelyal was detained on 4 September 2021, immediately after returning to Crimea from Kyiv, where he participated in the Inaugural Summit of the International Crimea Platform. His detention became another attempt to break the spirit of resistance to the occupation on the peninsula and a cynical reaction to the establishment of a new format of international cooperation for the de-occupation of the Crimean Peninsula. Since then, Nariman Dzhelyal and brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov have gone through the entire arsenal of Russian repressive methods of pressure: from intimidation and threats to physical torture.

Today’s disgraceful sentence was yet another testimony of the politically motivated persecution by the Russian authorities of the representatives of the Crimean Tatars, who were held hostage by the criminal Putin regime due to their disagreement with the occupation of Crimea.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the criminal occupying power has issued more than 30 sentences to Crimean political prisoners, the total term of imprisonment of which is already more than 1,100 years. The Kremlin continues to brazenly persecute and ignore its international obligations to respect and ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms, grossly violating international humanitarian law.

We call on the international community and our partners in the International Crimea Platform to exert political, diplomatic, sanctions and economic pressure on Russia in order to immediately release Nariman Dzhelyal, the brothers Asan and Aziz Akhtemov and all Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by the Putin regime.

Together we are approaching the day when the words of Nariman Dzhelyal from behind bars will become a reality: “Everything started with Crimea and will end with Crimea.”