Saturday, April 26, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Volga Tatars Nominate Crimea’s Mustafa Cemilev for Nobel Peace Prize

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 26 – Tatar organizations in the Middle Volga have nominated Mustafa Cemilev, the longtime leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement, for the Nobel Peace Prize, a step that calls attention to Cemilev’s efforts to defend his land  against Russian aggression and growing ties between the Tatars of Crimea and the Tatars of the Middle Volga.

            Some 20 nationalist and human rights groups in Tatarstan said that Cemilev deserves the prize because “over the course of more than half a century,” he has engaged in an unceasing struggle “for human rights ... and the democratic path of development” ( and

            Thanks to Cemilev’s efforts, the open letter declared, “the Crimean Tatars have become an integrated part of Ukrainian society and the political nation.” They “actively participate in the state-political construction of contemporary Ukraine” because they are “the indigenous people of Crimea.”

            Cemilev himself has actively opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia. He has called the Moscow-orchestrated referendum “illegal and absurd,” and he has urged the Crimean Tatars “to ignore the voting in Sevastopol.”  He has not been dissuaded either by a telephone call from Putin or a Russian decision to prevent him from returning to Crimea for five years.

            Instead, he has done everything he can to highlight the mistreatment of the Crimean Tatars by the Russian occupation forces and pointed out that already “approximately 5,000” of his nation have felt compelled to leave Crimea and resettle elsewhere in Ukraine, a kind of “soft” deportation that gives no sign of letting up.

            This is not the first time Cemilev has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, the Association for the Defense of Repressed Peoples in Germany did so.  But Moscow’s aggression and the looming threats of new tribulations for a nation Stalin deported to Central Asia in 1944 make the case for him more compelling.

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