Staunton, September 23 – Russian occupation officials have sent a letter to Crimean and Sevastopol media outlets suggesting that they not mention the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people because no such organization has received official registration. It thus “doesn’t exist” and therefore should not be mentioned.
The letter was signed by Natalya Poklonskaya, head of the occupation’s ministry of internal policy, information and media, an official who has taken the lead in Russia’s increasingly Orwellian treatment of this representative body of the Crimean Tatar people on the Ukrainian peninsula (sevastopol.su/news.php?id=79816 and grani.ru/Politics/World/Europe/Ukraine/m.244463.html).
It appears likely that the occupation authorities have issued this demand in response to the Crimean Tatar-led blockade of Crimea that is depriving the Russian-occupied area of food from the rest of Ukraine. In the past, 80 percent of food for Crimea came from other parts of the country.
What makes this action especially disturbing is that over the last year and a half, Vladimir Putin has used Russian-occupied Crimea as a testing ground for steps he subsequently has introduced in Russia. Banning references to things that exist but that Moscow doesn’t like could thus spread.
And both the current ban on references to the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and the likelihood it will be extended highlight the need for Ukraine and other Western countries to step up international broadcasting, including not only Internet operations but direct-to-home television and shortwave radio, to both occupied Crimea and Putin’s Russia.
Failure to contest such actions not only by official diplomatic protests but by expanded international broadcasting will give Putin and his minions an uncontested victory they do not deserve and that neither Ukraine, Russia, or the world can well afford.
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