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MOSCOW, May 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow tries to minimize inter-ethnic troubled spots in the Republic of Crimea which reunited with Russia on March 18. For this purpose, the Russian president held a meeting with Crimean authorities and representatives of Crimean Tatar diaspora, including members of Mejlis, an unregistered public organization of Crimean Tatars, in Russia’s capital, Moscow, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Stalinist deportation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula.
Deportation of Crimean Tatars began on May 18, 1944, after Crimea had been liberated from fascists. More than 190,000 people were deported to Central Asia from the peninsula on accusations of collaboration with fascists. The Crimean Tatar movement for return to their historical homeland became massive in 1956. In July 1990, the Soviet Union Council of Ministers has adopted a resolution on measures related to Crimean Tatars’ return to the Crimean region. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and Crimea became part of Ukraine. According to the 2001 latest national census, 1.45 million out of 2 million Crimean residents said they were Russians, 576,000 Ukrainians and 245,000 Tatars. For two decades Kiev authorities have not legalized Crimean Tatar proprietary objects and have not granted to their language a state language status along with Ukrainian. These issues were settled on the April 21 by Russian presidential decree on rehabilitation of Crimean Tatar people.
Before the 70th anniversary of deportation, the situation in Crimea was far from calm. Fearing extremist actions, Crimea's Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov banned an all-Tatar rally in memory of exile victims. Former Mejlis chairman and Ukrainian lawmaker Mustafa Dzhemilev who is banned from entering the Republic of Crimea for five years called for this rally with political demands. Dzhemilev insisted earlier that Crimean Tatars were the only indigenous people of the peninsula and that only they had the right for self-determination.
“Russian ombudsperson Ella Pamfilova found the ban for a rally of Crimean Tatars unacceptable. After a meeting between Pamfilova and incumbent Mejlis Chairman Refat Chubarov, it was decided not to hold an all-Tatar rally in central Simferopol, Crimea’s capital city, and to conduct actions in different settlements,” president of the Institute of Religion and Politics and member of the Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations Alexander Ignatenko told ITAR-TASS.
“Thus, Mejlis, headed by Refat Chubarov, has taken a compromise decision, and Crimean Tatar actions passed absolutely apolitically, and their participants did not hoist Ukrainian national flags. The Russian national flag was lifted at a rally in remembrance of deportation victims in the town of Bakhchisaray (southern Crimean town),” the expert noted. “It is noteworthy that Dzhemilev tried to stage his own rally in Kiev, but gathered very few people, because most Crimean Tatars do not consider him their leader. Dzhemilev is playing his game. Dzhemilev is indifferent to the interests of Crimean Tatars, their future. He works for centers of power in Brussels, Washington and Kiev that also do not care about the future of Crimean Tatars,” Ignatenko said.
“Crimean Tatars do not harbor a grudge against Russians. For them as an ethnic group, it is important to preserve, protect their culture and identity. Most Crimean Tatars are indifferent to politics. They want to live and work in Crimea, run their businesses, cater for tourists, in other words, do the things they are good at. Russia gives much more opportunities to them for this than Ukraine,” ethnographer and director of the Lev Gumilev Center Pavel Zarifullin told Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
“In Vladimir Putin’s decree, Crimean Tatars are not only made equal to other peoples, but also will get an opportunity to settle their land issues,” member of the Presidential Human Rights Council Maxim Shevchenko told ITAR-TASS. “Mustafa Dzhemilev’s appeals to make a political demonstration out of the 70th anniversary of Crimean Tatars’ expulsion were not fulfilled, because people understood that Dzhemilev is influenced by politicians who are far from protecting real interests of people,” the expert added.
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