Monday, October 5, 2015

Some Want to Forget Crimean Tatars Just as They Wanted to Forget Jews in Soviet Times, Muzhdabayev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 5 – Some in Ukraine are accepting a propaganda trope against the Crimean Tatars that their predecessors in Soviet times employed against Jews in order to try to get people to forget about the Crimean Tatars entirely, according to Ayder Muzhdabayev, the deputy chief of the ATR Crimean Tatar channel.

            In Soviet times, he writes, communist propagandists told Ukrainians and others, “’Why are you talking all the time about the Jews? In Babi Yar, [the Nazis] killed not only them.’” Now, some Ukrainians are asking “’why are you talking all the time about the Crimean Tatars? They aren’t the only ones who suffered from the annexation, there are others as well.’”

            “Of course, there are others,” Muzhdabayev says; no Crimean Tatar ever denies that.  But this ugly “xenophobic rhetoric is not about them.” It is pushed “by those who want to forget about the Crimean Tatars and about Crimea as a whole,” just as the Soviets wanted to forget Soviet citizens to forget about the Jews (

            Happily, he continues, few fell for this Soviet propagandistic trick in the past, and today the enormous majority of Ukrainians aren’t falling for its latest recrudescence: A new poll shows that Ukrainians overwhelmingly back the Crimean Tatar blockade of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula.

            Just as attitudes toward the Jews were a kind of litmus test in Soviet times, however, Muzhdabayev continues, so too today, “attitudes toward the Crimean Tatars” are the same, “a test” of how indifferent some are to the misfortunes of others and how ready they may be to betray not just the Crimean Tatars but everyone else as well.

            Those who do fall for this update of Soviet anti-Semitism cannot be considered civilized human beings, he says. Their “mental ancestors” freaked out about Jews “because they did not want to remember the Holocaust.” Now, such people get upset about any reference to the Crimean Tatars because they don’t want to talk about the Russian occupation.

            Those who think that way now, Muzhdabayev says, should recognize that the world of Sovietism is “kaput.”  After the Revolution of Dignity, “there cannot be such conversations. The Crimean Tatars are a peaceful and open people who does not wish anyone ill and has not done any evil.”

            “It would be better,” he concludes, if such people “would broaden their vision, find out more about Crimea and the Crimean Tatars, interact with them, and look to the future which should be and will be one in common, in a free and united Europe. Without any phobias” of the kind the Soviet Union produced and that Russia now offers.

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