Residents of annexed Crimea have until the end of the year to relinquish religious literature that is banned in Russia.
The self-proclaimed “government” in Russian-annexed Crimea is calling on Muslims to dispose of literature on Islam which previously had been allowed by Ukrainian legislation but which is now prohibited under Russian law.
The new requirements were announced by the self-proclaimed head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, on October 14, as reported by the Interfax agency.
“We ask all Muslims who have this literature to hand it over to the Muftiate ( local “spiritual board” — Ed.) within three months,” he said.
According to Aksyonov, for the next three months law enforcement agencies will not remove this literature, which had been allowed in Ukraine, from local Muslims. However, starting on January 1, 2015, Russian standards will prevail. As Aksyonov explained, the list of “banned literature” will be published in the media and “awareness programs” will be conducted with Crimean residents.
Pressure on Crimean Tatars
As previously reported, the Crimean Tatars have stated repeatedly that the new government has increased pressure on them after holding local elections on September 16. In an interview with DW, Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, said the Crimean authorities in September seized the property and buildings belonging to the Mejlis. By the end of September, some 30-40 searches had been conducted in the homes of the activists of the National Movement of the Crimean Tatars, the members of the Mejlis, in mosques, madrasas and libraries. According to Dzhemilev, the list of the so-called “banned literature” includes some 2,000 books, primarily of religious nature and related to the Mejlis. Additionally, since the annexation of Crimea, about 20 Crimean Tatars have vanished, several of whom were later found dead.