The United States is deeply troubled by the September 27 conviction and two-year prison sentence for Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Mr. Umerov was convicted for his opposition to Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and given a harsher sentence than the Russian occupation prosecutor requested. “This compounds past injustices in the case,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, “including his confinement for several weeks of punitive psychiatric treatment in 2016.” Human Rights Watch condemned this confinement as “an egregious violation of his rights.”
Speaking at his trial, Umerov said that the charges against him were “to punish all who oppose the annexation.” He vowed to appeal his sentence all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Umerov’s lawyer, Nikolai Polozov,says he fears that the Russian prison system will not be capable of providing proper medical care to Umerov, who has Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
The European Union called Umerov’s sentencing a “serious violation of his human rights” and “another example of persecution of the Crimean Tatar community, and a further and clear illustration of the severe deterioration of human rights on the Crimean peninsula.”
The Ukrainian government condemned the verdict as an “illegal and politically-motivated sentence” that violated Umerov’s human rights.
Umerov is a deputy chairman of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars’ elected representative body, and has been an outspoken critic of Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea and its crackdown on Crimean Tatars.
Umerov’s conviction follows similar rulings in Crimea on September 10 against Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz, and on September 22 against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty contributor Mykola Semena.
The United States calls on the Russian occupation authorities to immediately release Umerov and vacate his conviction. Crimea remains an integral part of Ukraine, and the United States remains steadfast in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.