‘Soviet-style’ trial of Crimean Tatar leader

The first hearing in the case against Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov opened in Simferopol June 7. Russian authorities who control Crimea have charged Umerov—deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Majlis, now banned by Moscow—with separatism. His supporters say he is being persecuted for speaking out against the growing persecution of the Tatars since Russia's annexation of Crimea. Umerov suffers from serious medical conditions that have prevented authorities from remanding him in custody, as they have fellow Majlis leader Akhtem Chiygoz. However Umerov has been subject to "punitive psychiatry," according to Ukraine's Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. The independent rights monitor calls the case against Umerov a "Soviet-style" show trial.

The judge in the case, Andrei Kulishov, is wanted by Ukraine for breach of his oath and suspected of treason. The prosecutor is Oleg Sarginov, who also changed sides after Russia's invasion. (Human Rights in UkraineRFE/RL, June 7)

Ukraine last month held official commemorations of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea in 1944. A minute of silence was observed at noon on May 18 across the country—except in Russia-annexed Crimea itself, of course.

In the Crimean capital, Simferopol, the Russian-imposed authorities prohibited Tatars from gathering in the central square to mark the anniverary of deportation. Several activists were detained.  (RFE/RL, May 18)