Friday 9th May 2014 was Victory Day in Russia and the Crimea, a day which is traditionally marked by ceremonies to remember the end of the Great Patriotic War. Ceremonies took place in Moscow and elsewhere including controversially in the Crimea. While many people respectfully remembering the end of the war, and the terrible price paid for final victory over fascism, not everyone was celebrating.
|Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev|
For the Crimean Tartars, ominously there may be little to celebrate – the Tartars many of whom served bravely in the then Red Army, were repaid for their loyalty by finishing the war in detention in Central Asia and Siberia. Since the Russian occupation of Crimea, things have not been easy. Last week a senior member of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body (the Mejlis) was beaten up by a so-called Russian self-defense group.
The head of the Mejlis department for external ties, Ali Hamzin, told Radio Free Europe / /Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) that unknown individuals in military uniforms had stopped Abduraman Egiz in Simferopol on May 6th and demanded his identification. Abduraman Egiz who refused to produce his documents, demanded that police be present at the site. The men, who called themselves members of the "Crimean self-defense force" then attacked Egiz and beat him up and searched his vehicle.
Upon discovering that Egiz was a member of Mejlis, he was released. Ali Hamzin stated that the incident would be reported to the police. It is expected that in the run up to the 70th anniversary of the Crimean Tatars' deportation to Central Asia to be marked on May 18th that violent attacks against Crimean Tatars will likely intensify. The Crimean Tartar Mejlis has refused to recognize the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea by Moscow in March.
On May 4th, Natalya Poklonskaya, Crimea's de facto prosecutor-general, warned Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov that his organization will be liquidated if it engages in "extremist" activities. This action came amid protests by local Tatars over the authorities’ refusal to allow their veteran leader, Mustafa Dzhemilev, into the region on May 3rd. Mustafa Dzhemilev, a famous if not legendary Soviet-era dissident and Ukrainian lawmaker, told RFE/RL on May 5th that Crimean Tatars will continue to fight for their Human rights by peaceful means.
(Source: RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service)