EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Russia: Crimea – The Gravest Ethnic and Political Conflict

Posted by Info on 28/11/2014

Crimea is bound up with the fate of the Crimean Tatars.

The Crimean Tatars are the native inhabitants of Crimea. They had their own state, the Crimean Khanate, for more than 300 years from the middle of the 15th to the end of the 18th centuries. Catherine the Great then annexed Crimea to the Russian empire but the Tatars kept their culture, language and religion – Sunni Islam.

In 1944, Stalin ordered that all 191,000 of them, all 47,000 families, be exiled to Central Asia. In 1954, Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, but in March  2014  Putin returned Crimea to Russia.

They are  now some 300,000 and make up around 13% of Crimea’s population. The Crimean Tatar community did not support union with Russia as they boycotted the referendum in March on joining Russia.

Mosques, schools, community centers, firms and private homes belonging to Tatars have been searched and raided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (“anti-extremism” special branch), prosecutors and the Special Purpose Police, as well as so-called “self-defense forces”. The Crimean Tatars’ only independent television station, ATR, has come under heavy pressure and many activists, journalists and bloggers have been forced to leave Crimea.

The Tatars’ leaders, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, current head of the Mejlis, have been barred from entering their homeland for five years and are now living in Kiev against their will.

All these violations are set out in a report written by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, who himself visited Crimea. He pays particular attention to the killing, abduction and disappearance of people in Crimea. Criminal investigations have been launched into the latter killings and abductions but neither the victims nor the perpetrators have yet been found.

Chubarov says that Moscow is now planning to repeat the “Chechen scenario” in Crimea, that is, to find a second Ramzan Kadyrov among the Crimean Tatars.

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