Crimean Tatar leaders freed from jail after Turkey intervenes
Nariman Dzhelyalov, a Crimean Tatar leader, told Reuters the two, Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz, had landed in Turkey and from there would make their way to the Ukrainian capital.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a Twitter post, thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his role in helping free the pair.
Umerov, deputy head of the Crimean Tatars’ semi-official Mejlis legislature before it was suspended by Moscow, was last month sentenced by a Russian court to two years in jail for separatism.
Chiygoz, another Crimean Tatar leader, was sentenced at the same time to eight years for stirring up anti-Russian protests.
Western governments and human rights groups said that they were imprisoned for speaking out against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and pressed Moscow to release them. Russian officials denied the prosecutions were politically-motivated.
“What everyone had been waiting for so long has happened,” a defense lawyer for the Crimean Tatars, Nikolai Polozov, wrote on his Facebook pace. “Two more hostages, two Ukrainian political prisoners have gained their freedom.”
According to Mustafa Jemilev, the Ukrainian president's authorized representative for Crimean Tatar people affairs, Chyigoz and Umerov were first taken to Simferopol, then a plane took them to Anapa, and later they left in a plan for Turkey.