Sunday, September 14, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Russian Occupation Bringing Soviet Times Back to Crimea, Mejlis Leader Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 14 – The Russian occupation of Crimea has brought with it a return to “Soviet times in their most cynical manifestations,” one without freedom but with denunciations, according to Refat Chubarov, head of the Crimean Tatar Milli Mejis. Tragically, he says, the situation after today’s elections “will become still worse.”


            That is why, he told Deutsche Welle, the Crimean Tatars are boycotting the elections. “We consider that the elections will not bring peace and stability to the Crimean land.” Instead, “Moscow with the help of this so-called ‘expression of the will of the people’ will seek to legalize the illegitimate occupation authorities” (


            Chubarov pointed out that according to the March “treaty about the unification of Crimea to Russia,” this vote was supposed to take place only a year from now, on September 15, 2015. But the Russian occupiers have moved it forward because they understand that by that time the residents of Crimea will recognize that they have been “deceived.”


            “Many would [by then] understand that they had been deceived and the results would be different.” Already it should be obvious that Moscow has no intention of keeping its promises. Instead, the only thing it has done as is the custom “with totalitarian regimes” is to build up the security services in order to oppress the population.


            To cover what they are doing and not doing, Chubarov said, the Russian occupation forces have come up with new slogans: “’If Russia had not introduced its forces, then we would have had a war like in the Donbas,’” or the classical one “’These are all difficulties of the transitional period’” and will pass.


            Some people are prepared to accept these notions now, he said, but “a year from now these arguments will be insufficient.”  But even now, Moscow has already decided what results it needs, and those will be the results announced regardless of how people vote, Chubarov continued.


            The Russian occupiers are not limiting themselves to the falsification of election results, however. They are oppressing the population, the Crimean Tatars and Crimean Tatars who are active Muslims in particular. A day doesn’t go by without masked men breaking into their houses and trying to intimidate them.


            “The authorities,” Chubarov said, “are especially concerned about such people” because their religious beliefs provide them with the basis for opposing the demands of the occupiers. What the regime hopes to achieve is to drive such people off the peninsula so that Moscow will be able to rule without opposition.


After today’s elections, the Crimean Tatar leader said, the situation is going to deteriorate further. “Moscow will impose a harsher policy in all areas. It will seek to forma  faceless society, one without those who think differently, without free media, and without political competitors.” 

If the world concludes that Crimea is now be part of Russia forever and thus looks away from what is going on there, the re-totalitarianization of the peninsula will take place all that much faster and more thoroughly.





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