MOSCOW, March 12, /ITAR-TASS/. Vladimir Putin has had a telephone conversation with Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former chairman of the Mejlis (Council) of the Crimean Tatar People, currently a member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada.
Dzhemilev was making a business trip to Moscow for a meeting with the former president of Russia’s constituent republic of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiyev.
The Kremlin press service said Putin and Dzhemilev, who is broadly viewed as the leader of the Crimean Tatars national movement, “had a long telephone conversation.”
Mentimer Shaimiyev later described the conversation between Putin and Dzhemilev as “a long and fruitful one.”
“Quite naturally, Mustafa-bei has his own position because he is an active-duty member of the Rada, he is concerned about the integrity of Ukraine and about what’s going to happen after the referendum (on the state sovereignty of Crimea, which is scheduled for next Sunday - Itar-Tass),” he said.
“Also we believe it’s important that the Crimean Tatar people doesn’t find itself in the position of an outcast,” Shaimiyev said Wednesday after a meeting with Dzhamilev.
“It’s important to keep self-restraint,” he said. “Things are more easily said than done, but it’s important to assure that the rights the people aspire to become a reality under the new status (of Crimea) whatever the turn the events take.”
He said his conversation with Dzhemilev had been marked by a very friendly atmosphere.
“I think we had a frank conversation marked by trust in the sense that everyone should take a responsible stance because we understand each other well,” Shaimiyev said.
“Mustafa-bei is very content with his trip here and, quite naturally, with an opportunity to speak with Russia’s President,” he said. “A referendum has been called and the majority of the population in Crimea will give a definitive answer to the questions in the ballots.”
“In these conditions, one must keep what one’s people has already - I mean the Crimean Tatars in this case - and to assure more,” Shaimiyev said. “In this situation, appropriate guarantees should be given.”
“A decision was taken at a session of the Crimean Supreme Soviet a few days ago on expanding the powers and status of the Crimean Tatar people in the representative agencies of power and I must say Mustafa-bei treats the move favorably and with definite satisfaction,” he said.
“This representation in the agencies of state power is bigger than the percentage of (Tatar) population in Crimea and it’s really needed because the regional legislature doesn’t have the nationalities chamber and the Crimean Tatars make up an ethnic minority living on their native land,” Shaimiyev said. “Since the guarantees and rights are very important and they should be formalized by law and defended by other state acts if necessary.