The European Union on Tuesday condemned the detention of over 50 Crimean Tatars and called on Russia to respect human rights.

The European Union condemned searches by Russian authorities that resulted in the detention of five Crimean Tatar leaders and 50 other people, Peter Stano, the European Commission’s lead spokesperson on foreign policy, said in a statement.

“The European Union considers the detentions to be politically motivated and illegal under international law,” he said.

The statement also called on Russia to obey its international obligations and stop human rights violations.

Russian security forces arrested more than 50 people in Crimea, including prominent intellectual Nariman Dzhelyal, Ukraine announced last week.

At the first International Crimea Platform Summit in August, European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc would never recognize the illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea and voiced heavy criticism of Russia.

In June, the EU extended for another year economic sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with Russian President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.

Crimea’s ethnic Tartars have faced persecution since that time, a situation especially decried by Turkey.

Turkey, the EU, and US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.

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