Crimean Tartars (photo: oleg-leusenko.livejournal.com)
For more than a year, Russians have failed to take note of and react to the fact that “their government is dealing with the Crimean Tatars in the same way Hitler’s Reich did,” reducing them to the status of second class citizens and outcasts in their own land, according to Ayder Muzhdabayev.
But what is especially disturbing, a Crimean Tatar who works as Moscow journalist and commentator says, is that it is “not only the representatives (supporters) of the authorities, but also its opponents,” a pattern that raises questions about whether Russia has any chance of recovering and improving.
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea a year ago, he writes, “governments, international organizations, and concerned citizens of various countries have been protesting against the intensifying discrimination there of the Crimean Tatars and demanded an end to repressions.” “People are being intimidated. Some are disappearing, others are sitting in jails, and the rest are simply crying at home from fear, injustice and despair.”
“Only in one country is nothing of the sort heard,” Muzhdabayev says, and this is Russia. That the regime might take this position is one thing but that almost everyone should do so is quite another. And that means that the words “’opposition’ and ‘intelligentsia’” must now “not be written except in quotation marks.”
“People are being intimidated. Some are disappearing, others are sitting in jails, and the rest are simply crying at home from fear, injustice and despair.”
In a country of 140 million people, one can hardly find ten who are prepared to defend the Crimean Tatars in public, the journalist says, noting that “practically all my Moscow ‘friends’” not only do nothing on their own but don’t “like” or “repost” his or other articles on the subject in social media.
That raises serious questions about them. After all, “on the territory of their country, an entire people is being made into second-class citizens. People are being deprived of the chance to listen to the radio and watch television in their own language, and their children are losing this right even with regard to films!”
“People are being intimidated. Some are disappearing, others are sitting in jails, and the rest are simply crying at home from fear, injustice and despair,” Muzhdabayev writes. “No one (at least not yet) is threatened with punishment for expressing sympathy to the Crimean Tatars.” But still almost no Russians are doing so.
That failure to speak out raises serious questions about the Russians and means that “even if the Crimean Tatars begin to be deported from their homeland as they were in 1944 in cattle cards,” there won’t be more than “two or three posts on Russian Facebook” – a lack that makes that horrific prospect all the more possible.
But it is not only the Crimean Tatars who are being brutalized by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea. Today, Novy Region-2 journalist Kseniya Kirillova tells the heart-rending story of a Ukrainian citizen there who is being victimized only because she has reposted materials critical of what Moscow is doing.
Galina Denisova is a citizen of Ukraine who has refused Russian citizenship because she doesn’t support Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. On occasion, Kirillova reports, the Sevastopol resident has reposted stories in support of Crimea as a Ukrainian territory, Nadezhda Savchenko and the late Boris Nemtsov.
Not long ago, the FSB searched her house and said they were bringing charges against her for “extremism” on the basis of a social network post she put up in august 2014. Denisova said she couldn’t remember the content of that post but now faces charges and a trial in a Russian court.
“I am afraid that I will not survive as my health is weak,” she posted at the end of last week. The FSB search left her frightened and intimidated because, she says, “the Chekists clearly gave her to understand that they would not allow her to leave the country;” and she doesn’t have any money for a lawyer.
Denisova said that she is “an unemployed widow with two small children.” Now, she is “afraid and almost doesn’t leave her home.” She doesn’t know what to do because after the search, “the FSB forced her to sign a paper that she would not write any more such posts.” She said she did so because she was afraid of what would happen to her children if she didn’t.
Now, except for her contacts on Facebook, she concluded, “I am entirely alone.”