25 Oct 2017 17:53

Mejlis leaders Chiygoz, Umerov in Turkey, planning to go to Ukraine - lawyer

SIMFEROPOL. Oct 25 (Interfax) - Two deputy chairmen of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars (banned in Russia), Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were acquitted of organizing mass riots in 2014 and calling for separatism, are currently in Turkey, and they will most likely travel to Ukraine from there, Chiygoz's lawyer Nikolai Polozov told Interfax.

"First they left Crimea and then the Russian Federation: from Krasnodar Territory they flew to Turkey as absolutely free people. Currently, they are in Turkey as guests and will stay there for a while before deciding where to travel next [...] Most likely, they will head to Ukraine, but I want to note that there is no ban on their returning to their homeland, to Crimea," Polozov said.

The question of the two men's fate was discussed during talks involving leaders from three countries: Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, he said.

"How that happened, and exactly which arrangements and conditions were reached, it is hard to say. No one invited me to these talks. I am aware that all charges against them have been dropped. No one showed us official documents, and if there were any decrees, we don't know about them. The only thing I can say for sure is that neither Akhtem Chiygoz nor Ilmi Umerov wrote or signed any declarations or petitions for pardon or guilty pleas. No [prisoner] exchange was being planned [either]," Polozov said.

It emerged on Wednesday that Chiygoz, who had an eight-year sentence, had been released from jail, while Umerov, who had been given two years at a penal colony, left the hospital where he had been staying recently. Both went to Turkey.