"We call on the Russian Federation to reverse the Ministry of Justice's recent decision to designate the Crimean Tatar Mejlis as an "extremist" organization and the decision by de facto authorities in Crimea to suspend this democratic institution," U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a press statement on April 21.
According to Kirby, the Mejlis has long been a representative body for the traditionally under-represented and historically oppressed Crimean Tatar population. It has also served as an important independent voice in preserving their culture and protecting them from discrimination.
Read alsoMFA Ukraine condemns ban on Mejlis in occupied Crimea"Russian authorities have no basis or jurisdiction to assert Russian law over Tatar conduct in Ukraine. A ban on the Mejlis would prohibit it from convening, publishing its views in mass media, or holding public events, which contravenes basic democratic principles. This action is the latest in a series of abuses perpetrated by de facto authorities against those in Crimea who oppose the occupation, including Crimean Tatars and members of other ethnic and religious minorities in Crimea. Such abuses include arbitrary detentions, beatings, and police raids on their homes and places of worship," he said.
Read alsoMejlis banned"We again call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea and return control over this piece of Ukrainian territory. Sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place as long as the occupation continues," Kirby said.