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Ukraine’s parliament raises issue of Crimean Tatar population rights

May 14, 2015, 17:17 UTC+3 KIEV
The parliament has authorised its speaker to turn to the UN, the European Parliament and the PACE with a request to condemn violation of Crimean Tatars' rights
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Crimean Tatars during a commemoration ceremony in Simferopol, Crimea

Crimean Tatars during a commemoration ceremony in Simferopol, Crimea

© EPA/ ARTUR SHVARTS

KIEV, May 14. /TASS/. Ukraine’s parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) has ignored Russia’s steps to secure the rights of the Crimean Tatar population taken after Crimea’s accession to Russia and called on Moscow on Thursday to "stop persecuting Tatar activists."

The Verkhovna Rada has authorised its speaker to turn to the United Nations, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) with a request to condemn violation of Crimean Tatars' rights, including their deportation in 1944.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said previously that "the factors that have been permanently straining relations between Crimean Tatars and the rest of the peninsula’s population are being removed" now. According to him, the Crimean Tatar people have got something that they "could not even dream of within Ukraine - the status of their language, as well as land amnesty."

According to the 2014 agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea, the Crimean Tatar language, along with Russian and Ukrainian, has for the first time become a state language in Crimea. The first ever law on the rehabilitation of all the peoples of Crimea has been adopted - such a law had not even been planned when Crimea was part of Ukraine. Also, Crimean Tatars have got expanded rights in the sphere of culture and land use that they lacked within Ukraine. The first ever Krymchak school textbook on the history and culture of Crimean Tatars is currently being written in Russia.

Also, Russia has made a decision to grand "land amnesty" to Crimea, because Tatars, returning to the peninsula from places of deportation have been occupying the land without permission. It has been proposed, in particular, to register the fact of ownership of land and buildings, currently held by Crimean Tatars, as well as to conduct free cadastral valuation of the real estate items in order to legitimise them.

Sergey Lavrov said in April that at present "Crimean Tatars are represented in all bodies of power of the Republic of Crimea, they have the right to speak, teach their children and use all the services in their own language. Russia’s federal target programme for the development of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol envisages special appropriations for supporting the Crimean Tatar culture."

Shortly after Crimea’s reunification with Russia last year, President Vladimir Putin told a news conference that plans were under way to rehabilitate Crimea’s Tatars, who had been deported en masse during the height of Josef Stalin's purges. "Crimean Tatars suffered some serious damage during the Stalinist reprisals and were deported from Crimea, which is their traditional place of residence, their home. We certainly need to do everything we can to rehabilitate and restore the legitimate rights and interests of the Crimean Tatar people at a time when Crimea is joining the Russian Federation," Putin said then.

Kiev’s current demarche on Crimean Tatars is not the first one. In November 2014, at the UN Forum on Minority Issues held in Geneva, Ukraine has already tried to accuse Russia of violating human rights in Crimea.

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