Crimean Tatar lawyer held over 'extremist propaganda'

 26 Jan 2017 - 14:04

Crimean Tatar lawyer held over 'extremist propaganda'


Simferopol: Russian authorities in annexed Crimea on Thursday detained a Tatar lawyer for allegedly spreading "extremist propaganda", activists said, the latest step in an official crackdown on the pro-Ukraine Muslim community.

Emil Kurbedinov was detained as he headed to a client's house that was being raided by law enforcement agents over purported ties to the banned Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. 

"They are accusing him of spreading extremist propaganda," Crimean Tatar activist Abdureshit Dzhepparov told AFP.

Officials in Crimea have cracked down on the region's Tatar population, who were deported by Stalin and largely opposed Moscow's 2014 takeover of the strategic Black Sea peninsula, banning their governing body and closing independent media.

Authorities have used claims of membership of Hizb-ut-Tahrir to raid homes and arrest a string of Tatars, but activists have decried the allegations as a cover for targeting their community. 

Kurbedinov has represented most of the arrested Crimean Tatars.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) seeks to re-establish a caliphate -- a pan-Islamic state based on Islamic rule harking back to mediaeval times -- and has been banned in Russia since 2003.