REUTERS

In Crimea, Russian occupation authorities unlawfully detained 120 Ukrainian citizens of Crimean Tatar origin.

Ukrainian law enforcement in response to the incident have opened criminal proceedings in this regard, the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs reports.

Read alsoCrimean Platform to become epicenter of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine in 2021 – FM KulebaOn the evening of January 11, under the pretext of ID and car check, security operatives illegally detained 120 Ukrainians in order to prevent them from attending a court hearing in the "Hizb ut-Tahrir case", which was set to be held that morning in mainland Russia's Rostov-on-Don.

Ukrainian police have qualified the act as "illegal deprivation of liberty" and launched the relevant probe.

The Criminal Code provides for up to five years in prison for those found guilty of committing the said crime.

Earlier reports said the Russian State Traffic Inspectorateoperatives in the occupied Crimea had been unlawfully holding nearly 120 Crimean Tatars on the Kerch bridge for about nine hours.

Read alsoRussian court sentences Crimean Tatar activist Seytosmanov to 17 years in prisonThe group were on their way to Rostov-on-Don to attend a court hearing in the Hizb ut-Tahrir group case where the verdict is expected to be announced.

A group of Crimean Tatars from Bakhchisarai, Staryi Krym, Sudak, Belogorsk, Dzhankoy, and Simferopol were blocked on the Kerch bridge. The traffic police took their IDs for verification and photographed their passports.

They were held at sub-zero temperatures with no hot drinks or food provided.

Repression against Crimean Tatars

The defendants of the Belogorsk group in the so-called "Hizb ut-Tahrir case" are Enver and Riza Omerovs, as well as Ayder Dzhapparov.

They were detained in the summer of 2019.

The Russian prosecution demanded 19 years in prison for Enver Omerov and 13 years for his son Rezi Omerov, as well as 18 years for Dzhapparov.