(QHA) -

A prominent Tatar activist Rafis Kashapov, who faces trial on hate-crimes charges, which supporters say are politically motivated, has begun a hunger strike, RFE/RL informs.

He was arrested on December 28 upon return from Turkey and charged with inciting ethnic, racial, and religious hatred via the Internet.

Fellow activist Renat Nurali told RFE/RL that Kashapov had started the strike "to protest political repression in Russia, the lawlessness of Russian prosecutors and courts, the violation of the rights of Russia's indigenous peoples, and Russia's involvement in the military conflict in Ukraine."

Kashapov leads the Tatar Public Center (TIU), an NGO in Tatarstan's second-largest city, Chally, that campaigns to preserve Tatars' national identity, language, and culture.

He has harshly criticized Crimea’s unification with Russia and Moscow's role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

QHA