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World Congress of Crimean Tatars did not represent Crimea’s Tatar population

August 03, 2015, 18:43 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
Grand Khan mosque in Bakhchisaray, Crimea

Grand Khan mosque in Bakhchisaray, Crimea

© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. The just-held World Congress of Crimean Tatars in Turkey did not represent the interests of Crimea’s Tatar population. In fact it was an anti-Russian action, analysts believe. The supporters of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and its leaders in Crimea are in absolute minority, but the Ukrainian authorities have been using them in order to play the Tatar card in an attempt to destabilize the situation in the peninsula.

Ankara last weekend hosted a World Congress of the Crimean Tatars, which issued a call for recognizing as genocide Russia’s policies towards the Crimean Tatar people since the elimination of the Crimean Khanate and accused Moscow of ignoring "the fundamental rights of the Crimean Tatars" since Crimea’s return to Russia’s fold in 2014, which they described as "annexation."

The congress’s organizers were Ukrainian presidential commissioner for the rights of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev and chairman of the Crimean Tatar people’s Mejlis, Refat Chubarov. Both have been prohibited from entering Russia for actions interpreted as incitement of inter-ethnic discord. Dhzemilev two decades ago led the Mejlis that had never been registered as a political organization. It was that self-styled assembly that in reality controlled the everyday life of Crimean Tatars’ communities, gained notoriety for arbitrary seizures of land, attacks against bodies of power and blockades of strategic roads.

Those representatives of Crimean Tatars who support Russia’s policies are critical of the organizers of the Ankara congress. Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ruslan Balbek, said the congress was held without wide participation of Tatars resident in the Republic of Crimea and moreover had nothing to do with the Crimean Tatars. Crimea’s former first deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliyev, voiced a similar opinion. He accused Dzhemilev of "stimulating an inter-ethnic conflict in Russia’s territory."

"Since the moment Crimea reunited with Russia we have not heard anything about arbitrary seizures of lands or some protests by Crimea Tatars," the portal Free Press quotes the director of the Russian Institute of Political Analysis Instruments, Aleksandr Shpunt, as saying. "The problem that had looked insoluble has been resolved over just one year. True, in Crimea there is a great deal of other problems. But the problem of Crimean Tatars is not among them. That is for certain."

Dzhemilev used to be a high profile personality in Crimea, the analyst said.

"One year has passed and he has failed to organize a single public movement or any noticeable public gesture. The infusion of resources was enormous, but there has been no noticeable demonstration by Crimean Tatars against the Russian authorities. Not a single one. He enjoys no influence at all. This is precisely the reason why only Kiev needs him," he believes.

The director of the CIS Studies Institute, Konstantin Zatulin, says the main flaw of what was called a "world congress" in Ankara was the Tatars currently resident in Crimea had no wide representation. "Those people who gathered in Ankara - whom did they actually represent?" Zatulin asked.

"Ukraine’s lawmakers Dzhemilev and Chubarov throughout the years of Crimea’s presence within independent Ukraine grossly exploited the interests of their own people. They were literally making money on their suffering and now they have preferred to be alienated from Crimea. That was their own choice. They have been trying to foment interest towards themselves and surely they have met with a benevolent attitude of the Ukrainian authorities, which have been trying to play the Crimean Tatar card together. The Mejlis has never been registered in Ukraine officially, because its charter contained some items violating the Ukrainian constitution," he said.

Zatulin is certain the chief purpose of the gathering in Ankara was anti-Russian. "It manifested the wish to cause as much harm to Russia as possible, to present the Crimean Tatars as an oppressed ethnic group, which has nothing to do with the reality.

It would be naive to think that after so many years when Ukraine let the Mejlis act in the capacity of the Crimean Tatars’ sole proxy they have no significant support in Crimea at all. "There are still some followers, but they are getting ever fewer with each passing day. Already now they are in the absolute majority. The road those emigrants have been trying to persuade the Tatars to follow is a road of confrontation and endless conflict. In the meantime, the people cherish peace," Zatulin said.

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