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Rapporteurs concerned by the suspension of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis

Two rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have expressed concern at the suspension, by the Prosecutor installed in Crimea by the Russian Federation, of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, the executive body of the Tatar people.

Marieluise Beck (Germany, ALDE), rapporteur on “Legal remedies for human rights violations on the Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities”, and Kristýna Zelienková (Czech Republic, ALDE), rapporteur on “The political consequences of the crisis in Ukraine”, said they met the current and former Chairs of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov and Mustafa Dzhemilev, last week in Kyiv.

“Mr Dzhemilev spent 15 years as a political prisoner in Soviet camps. Both leaders are indeed opposed to the annexation – in violation of international law – of Crimea by the Russian Federation. But this does not turn their work into ‘extremist activity’, as indicated in the decision of the Russian prosecutor to justify the suspension of the Mejlis,” said the two rapporteurs.

“The Mejlis is defending and not endangering the rights of the Crimean Tatars, whose very existence as an ethnic group with a distinct culture is threatened by the policies of the Russian authorities following the annexation of Crimea,” they added.

The rapporteurs said the two gentlemen were highly respected leaders of the Crimean Tatar community and members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Mr Chubarov was elected in 2013 to succeed Mr Dzhemilev as head of the Mejlis, which in turn is elected by the Tatar Kurultay, the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatar people.