The chairman of the Tatar Public Center, Rafis Kashapov, was sentenced to three years prison on Tuesday by a court in Russia's Tatarstan region on charges of calling for separatism and inciting ethnic hatred.
The Chally City Court found Kashapov guilty of separatism and inciting ethnic hatred. However, he pleaded not guilty and called the decision politically motivated.
The chairman had been posting several articles and comments criticising Russia’s annexation of Tatar-populated Crimea and backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“Crimea and Ukraine will be free from occupants!” and “There where Russia is, there are tears and death,” “Yesterday Hitler and Danzig, today Putin and Donetsk!” were among the statements he was on trial for writing.
He was arrested on December 28 while returning from a trip to Turkey.
Memorial, a Russian human rights group, stated that Kashapov was a political prisoner earlier this summer.
His twin brother Nafis Kashapov - who is also an activist hiding in Ukraine - took refuge in Poland claiming political asylum following the Russian annexation of Crimea.
The Tatar Public Center is a non-government organisation which aims to preserve the Tatar identity, language and culture.