State Dept dismisses as 'baseless' charges against Akhtem Chiygoz
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday criticized an eight-year sentence handed to Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz, calling charges against him "baseless".
The U.S. is "deeply troubled" by Chiygoz's conviction on Sept. 10, the department said in a statement, adding that it was related to a demonstration that took place in Crimea "before Russia’s occupation even began".
"This is just the latest in a long line of politically-motivated legal actions against the Mejlis and its leadership, which is being targeted for its opposition to Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea," the department added.
Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 led Western powers, including the U.S., to impose sanctions against Moscow.
Along with the UN General Assembly, the U.S., the EU, and Turkey also do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
Since the annexation, Ukraine has been wracked by conflict in its eastern regions with Russian-backed separatists, leading to more than 10,000 deaths, according to the UN.
The UN Human Rights Office says it will issue a report later this month on the human rights situation in Crimea, as mandated by the UN General Assembly.