21 May 2018 13:10

Russia opens criminal probe into aide to Ukrainian MP

MOSCOW. May 21 (Interfax) - The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has opened criminal cases over the establishment of an extremist group and recruitment against an aide to a Ukrainian parliamentarian, the FSB's press service said.

"The FSB, together with the Interior Ministry, has uncovered activities of an extremist group set up by Erol Veliyev, an aide to Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada deputy Mustafa Dzhemilev, on the instructions of Refat Chubarov, the wanted leader of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, which is banned in Russia, with support from the Ukrainian Security Service," the press service said in a statement shared with Interfax on Monday.

In January 2018, members of the extremist community used Molotov cocktails to set fire to the home of Crimean Mufti Emirali Ablayev, who has made a significant contribution to strengthening ethnic unity, it said.

"They were promised $500 for each action in Crimea," the press service said.

Apart from Veliyev, the group formed in Kharkiv included former boxers A. Steshenko and A. Tretyakov, it said.

The Crimean branch of the FSB opened criminal cases against the three men. Veliyev has been charged with the establishment of an extremist group and recruitment of people to engage in an extremist group's activities, and Steshenko and Tretyakov with involvement in an extremist group.

"The extremist group members Veliyev and Tretyakov have been indicted in absentia under the relevant Criminal Code articles. Both have been declared federally wanted," the press service said.

The men planned to commit crimes motivated by political enmity and aimed at intimidating pro-Russian Crimean Tatars and fomenting ethnic tensions in Crimea, it said.

"In April of this year, it was established that one of the members of the extremist group, A. Steshenko, entered the republic of Crimea, where he had been dispatched by Veliyev to prepare and commit provocations in the run-up to the anniversary of the signature of the Russian presidential Decree on Measures to Rehabilitate Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar, and German Peoples and State Support for their Revival and Development," the press service said.

The regional Interior Ministry opened a criminal case into the attempt to set fire to the mufti's house on charges of deliberate destruction of or causing damage to property by a generally dangerous method, it said.