Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Moscow’s Deportation and Denigration of Crimean Tatars Continues, Sidorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 18 – Eighty years ago, on May 18, 1944, Stalin ordered the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their homeland and the suppression of the Crimean autonomous republic as well. Today, Putin is continuing both policies albeit in a more “quiet” way than his predecessor did, Kharun Sidorov says.

            Today, people around the world recall Stalin’s crimes, the Prague-based specialist on nationality policy says; but they typically have focused less attention on what Putin has been doing with regard to the Crimean Tatars since his Anschluss of their land in 2014 (

            After the occupation, Putin issued a decree which spoke about the rehabilitation of ethnic minorities in Crimea but listed the Crimean Tatars fourth in a list of five, all except for them are true diasporas as they have states elsewhere. And the occupation authorities specified that rehabilitation was to be for individuals rather than nations, Sidorov says.

            Just what the Crimean Tatars now face under Russian occupation is clear if one compares Ukrainian and Russian laws governing ethnic minorities in Ukraine like the Crimean Tatars. Ukrainian law gives the Crimean Tatars special rights as an indigenous people, but Russian law does not.

            Indeed, Sidorov argues, Ukraine’s adoption of a law on indigenous peoples “became one of its ideological challenges to the Kremlin” and served as one of the reasons Putin invaded Ukraine lest Ukraine’s recognition of the special status of the Crimean Tatars be extended to indigenous peoples within the Russian Federation.

            But the Putin regime has followed its Stalinist model regarding the Crimean Tatars in another way: its minions have suppressed Crimean Tatar self-government and some of them have even called for the suppression of the name Crimea because in the words of one Russian official, “Crimea is a Crimean Tatar name.”

            These ideological positions have practical effects, Sidorov says. Since 2014, 50,000 Crimean Tatars have had to flee their homeland not only because of repression but because of the influx of approximately 500,000 ethnic Russians. Consequently, on the 80th anniversary of Stalin’s actions, the deportation continues, yet another reason why the occupation must be ended.

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