World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia’s High Court last Thursday rejected Crimean Tatars' appeal of the ban on their parliament, also known as the Mejlis.
"It's saddening that the Crimean Tatars, who always express their legitimate demands through democratic and peaceful means, who have no aims other than living a peaceful, safe life in which they are able to express themselves freely, have been suppressed with such methods, reflecting a collective punishment mentality," said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic in a statement.
"Turkey will continue supporting Crimean Tatars against the suppression they are being subject to,” he added.
This February Natalya Poklonskaya, a prosecutor Russia appointed to Crimea, petitioned the Crimean High Court to close down the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.
In the petition, Poklonskaya demanded the parliament's activities be stopped based on Russian laws against extremism. She also called for it to be branded an extremist organization.
A review of the case was postponed four times.
In April Poklonskaya decided the Crimean Tatar parliament's activities would be halted until the court issued a ruling.
Crimea was formally annexed by Moscow in March 2014 after an illegal independence vote on the heels of violent anti-government protests that led to the overthrow of then-President Victor Yanukovich.
The UN General Assembly voted nearly unanimously to proclaim the annexation illegal.
Along with many UN countries, the U.S., and the EU, Turkey does not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.