Russia frees two pro-Kiev Crimea Tatar leaders from jail
October 25 2017 04:57 PM
Akhtem Chiygoz (L) and Ilmi Umerov
Akhtem Chiygoz (L) and Ilmi Umerov


Russia has released from jail two prominent Crimean Tatar activists opposed to Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, their lawyer said on Wednesday.

Nariman Dzhelyalov, a Crimean Tatar leader, told Reuters the two, Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz, had landed in Turkey and from there would make their way to the Ukrainian capital.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a Twitter post, thanked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his role in helping free the pair.
Umerov, deputy head of the Crimean Tatars' semi-official Mejlis legislature before it was suspended by Moscow, was last month sentenced by a Russian court to two years in jail for separatism.
Chiygoz, another Crimean Tatar leader, was sentenced at the same time to eight years for stirring up anti-Russian protests.
Western governments and human rights groups alleged that they were imprisoned for speaking out against Russia's annexation of Crimea, and pressed Moscow to release them. Russian officials denied the prosecutions were politically-motivated.
There was no immediate confirmation of their release from the Russian authorities.
"What everyone had been waiting for so long, has happened," a defence lawyer for the Crimean Tatars, Nikolai Polozov, wrote on his Facebook pace. "Two more hostages, two Ukrainian political prisoners have gained their freedom."

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