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Kyiv Protests Russian Ruling That Bans Crimean Tatars' Mejlis
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested a ruling by Russia's Supreme Court that upheld a ban on the Mejlis, the self-governing body of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine's occupied territory of Crimea.
The ministry said in a statement that "the ban against the activities of the supreme representative and executive body of the Crimean Tatar people" was "openly blasphemous" and was done under "a far-fetched pretext of 'fighting extremism'."
The statement demanded that Russia immediately lift its ban and end what it called "the oppression of the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea."
Russia's Supreme Court ruling on September 29 upheld the decision of a Moscow-backed Crimean court to ban the Mejlis.
Mejlis' lawyer Kirill Koroteyev said the Russian court ruling will be appealed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
On April 26, more than two years after Russia seized and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Crimea's pro-Russian Supreme Court branded the Mejlis as an extremist organization and officially banned it.
The Mejlis had been legalized by the Ukrainian government in 1999.
Crimea's indigenous Tatars make up about 12 percent of Crimea's population of 2.5 million people.
Many Crimean Tatars fled the territory after it was seized by Russian military forces in February 2014 and illegally annexed by Moscow in March 2014.
Crimean Tatars who have remained in the occupied territory complain of harassment and enforced disappearances under the Moscow-backed authorities there.
Russia has been severely criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority since the annexation.
With reporting by Interfax and TASS
Group Ransacks Moscow Exhibition Of Photos From Eastern Ukraine
Dozens of people, some of them in military and traditional Cossack uniforms, have destroyed photos taken in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine that were on exhibit in Moscow.
The group of men and women entered the Sakharov Center in Moscow on September 29, carrying a large jar containing a red liquid with a label saying "Blood of Donbas Children Killed by Ukrainian Army."
They tore down all of the photos in the exhibition, which had been organized by the Center of Documentary Photography, demanding its closure and threatening to sue the organizers for "propagating extremism."
The photos were taken in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Ukrainian armed forces have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since April 2014.
On September 28, a man sprayed the photographs with red paint and called the photographers -- Alyaksandr Vasyukovich of Belarus and Ukraine's Serhiy Loyko -- "fascists."