Staunton, June 2 – Seventy years after Stalin expelled 200,000 Crimean Tatars from their homeland, Vladimir Putin is doing it again, albeit in a “new” and “hybrid” format, something that reflects the recrudescence of Stalinism under Putin and the desire of the current Kremlin leader to escape criticism and responsibility for his crimes, Dmitry Kostyuk says.
In 1944, using NKVD forces, Moscow deported the entire Crimean Tatar nation on the same day. Now, since the Russian occupation began in 2014, Putin’s forces have oppressed the 250,000 Crimean Tatars in their homeland to such an extent that approximately 20,000 have left already and many more, because of Russian repression, are being encouraged to leave.
Meanwhile, although Moscow has been careful not to advertise this fact and has denied it when others report it, the Russian occupation authorities has introduced thousands of ethnic Russians, thus using repression to change the ethnic makeup of the population and meeting the internationally accepted definition of genocide, albeit in a slow-motion “hybrid” fashion.
Kostyuk, a journalist for Kyiv’s Espreso TV, notes that “as the legal successor of the Soviet Union, Russia has not paid a single kopeck for the crimes of the communist regime.” But worse yet, “the Stalinist experience of struggle with opponents of the regime also has remained in place” (ru.espreso.tv/article/2018/06/01/putynskaya_deportacyya_krymskykh_tatar
He cites the conclusion of Yury Smelyansky, an expert on Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories for the Maidan of Foreign Affairs, that “the policy of Russia in Crimea is one of colonization which in turn is motivated by the military ambitions of the Kremlin. To carry them out, he says, they must “destroy any threat to their rule in Crimea.”
It is universally recognized that “the main danger for the Kremlin regime on the peninsula comes from the Crimean Tatars,” who will “never support the Russian occupier” and who hope that Kyiv’s efforts in international courts will ease their situation and ultimately lead to an end to the Russian occupation. Failing that, ever more of them will leave.
Various international bodies, including the United Nations, have issued decisions in support of the Crimean Tatars and condemning Russian actions, but “today,” Kostyuk says, “Russia ignores this decision as it does the demands of the Ukraine side for compensation” of the property of Crimean Tatars who have been forced to leave.
All indications are that the situation on the ground is deteriorating. On May 23, Refat Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis, said the occupation authorities were readying a major operation intended to arrest large numbers of Crimean Tatars and frighten others into leaving the peninsula.
“As long as Putin considers himself Stalin’s heir,” Kostyuk says, “he will try to complete the task begun by his predecessor of the destruction of ‘a hostile people’ and repress the indigenous population of Crimea.” As a result, “with each passing day, the annexed peninsula is becoming ever more russified.”
“Thousands of Russians have been resettled from the Russian Federation, and citizens of Ukraine have been confronted by a difficult choice: resistance and jail or emigration and loss of property. There is also a third possibility: trying to survive with the hope that the peninsula will be returned to Ukraine.”
The Crimean Tatars have won “a small number of small victories,” such as the liberation of Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov,” and that gives at least some of them the hope that they can hold out and survive the latest genocidal tragedy that Moscow is visiting upon their long-suffering people.