Freed Tatar leaders back in Ukraine, vow to fight for Crimea
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Two Crimean Tatar leaders released from prison in the Russia-annexed region have flown to Ukraine’s capital of Kiev and are vowing to continue their opposition to Russia’s control of the Black Sea peninsula.
Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz were released Monday and flown to Turkey, since Turkish President Reycep Tayyip Erdogan helped mediate their release.
Both are deputy chairmen of the Mejlis, a representative body for Tatars, a largely Muslim Turkic ethnic group that makes up about 15 percent of Crimea’s population.
Chiygoz had been sentenced to eight years in prison on a charge of organizing a riot during Russia’s 2014 annexation. Umerov had been sentenced to two years for criticizing the annexation.
Umerov says Friday that re-establishing Ukrainian control of Crimea will be “all of our fight.”