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Putin and Erdogan discuss Crimean Tatars issue

April 03, 2015, 14:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to Kremlin spokesman, the two leaders touched upon the issue of Crimean Tatar ATR TV channel closure in their recent phone conversation
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Crimean Tatars hold ATR TV station flags during a support rally in Simferopol, Crimea

Crimean Tatars hold ATR TV station flags during a support rally in Simferopol, Crimea

© AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko

MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone conversation touched upon the issue of the Crimean Tatar ATR TV channel that has stopped broadcasting in Crimea, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

"The TV channel was mentioned, indeed, the Turkish side always takes a keen interest in the life of Crimean Tatars, this is a traditional interest," Peskov told TASS. According to Peskov, "the Russian side provides exhaustive information to our Turkish colleagues on this matter when they request."

Peskov said that this issue was touched upon "in one of the most recent telephone conversations between the leaders. The Kremlin website reports that Putin and Erdogan had last talked by phone on March 17.

The presidential press secretary would not comment on the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement about alleged violation of the rights of Crimean Tatars in Crimea. According to him, the Turkish ministry statement should be commented by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Turkey intends to send an unofficial delegation to Crimea to find out the situation with Crimean Tatars. The delegation will comprise representatives of non-governmental organizations and entrepreneurs, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference on Friday after talks in Chisinau with the Moldovan president. "Unfortunately, the Crimean government has refused to extend the broadcasting licence to the Tatar TV channel ATR and it has to stop its work. We are deeply concerned over this situation — Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed this issue with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin. We have formed a delegation that will study the situation with human rights observance on the peninsula. We hope to solve this problem soon with our friends from Russia that is Turkey’s second trade partner after Germany," Cavusoglu said.

The Crimean Tatar ATR TV channel issue

The Crimean Tatar ATR television channel and Meidan radio station stopped broadcasting in Crimea on April 1.

The Kremlin is not in charge of issues related to the shutdown of Crimean Tatar-language ATR TV channel and it is up to Russian media watchdog or other oversight bodies to decide on its fate, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"This is not the responsibility of the Kremlin," Peskov said. "We have Roskomnadzor (media watchdog), oversight and licensing bodies, and it’s up to them to take the decision." "This is the matter of mass media’s communication with these bodies," he added.

ATR, the world’s only Crimean Tatar-language TV channel, was established in Crimea in 2005. It suspended broadcasting on Wednesday after failing to meet the deadline for registration under the Russian law.

The chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis, Ravil Gaynutdin, said on Tuesday ATR is "one of a few channels aimed at preserving and accumulating the national cultural heritage of the Crimean Tatar people."

He said the TV channel faced the shutdown in the coming days due to the lack of licence of Roskomnadzor.

"The shutdown of ATR channel and other media outlets that are part of the same-name media holding will become a huge blow to the Crimean Tatar people and a great loss for its culture," he said.

The mufti also said for Crimea as a Russian federal subject and Russia in general this could result in "serious risks for the integration of Crimean Tatars in the Russian political and legal space and cultural and historic space."

The shutdown of the only non-state TV channel of Crimean Tatars could lead to "a marginalization of public and cultural life of the Crimean Tatar community" and "will clear the way for stepping up the activities of organizations and movements that have extreme positions."

A week ago, Russia’s presidential council for civil society and human rights asked Roskomnadzor to take measures in an effort to prevent the shutdown of Crimean Tatar media outlets.

On April 1, the deadline for the registration of Crimea’s mass media with the Russian media watchdog expired.

The ATR and Meidan radio management have previously several times submitted registration documents to Roskomnadzor in line with Russian legislation. However, due to numerous mistakes in the documents the agency refused to accept them. Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov said that in his view, the mistakes in the documents were made intentionally, in order "to stir up a conflict around the television channel."

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