ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the sentencing by Russia of five Muslim Crimean Tatars to 13 years in prison.
“We are concerned that our Crimean Tatar kinsmen Dzhemil Gafarov, Servet Gaziev, Erfan Osmanov, Alim Karimov, and Seyran Murtaza were sentenced to 13 years in prison with a decision taken today,” according to a statement by the ministry.
It reiterated Türkiye’s support for “the Crimean Tatars’ right to live freely and safely in their homeland.”
It noted that Ankara expects “necessary steps to be taken as soon as possible for the freedom of all our compatriots imprisoned in Crimea for political reasons, including the aforementioned ones, and Nariman Dzhelyal, Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, our other Crimean Tatar kinsmen Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov.”
Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014. President Vladimir Putin formally divided the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Crimea’s Muslim ethnic Tatars have since faced persecution, a situation especially decried by Türkiye.
Türkiye, the EU, US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view Crimea’s violent annexation by Russia as illegal.
Separately, calling for a strong reaction, Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar on Twitter said: “With no right to last plea. Russian puppet court sentenced #CrimeanTatar political prisoners to 13 years in prison each.”
Russia’s “occupiers arrested them in 2019 under politically motivated charges. Their health condition is a matter of serious concern. This is a verdict to degrading authoritarian regime that considers elderly & disabled as its enemies,” she added.