Mustafa Dzhemilev: New Crimean regime is even worse than Soviet one




Article by: Kateryna Kovalenko

On 18 May 2015, the Crimean Tatars commemorated the 71st anniversary of their deportation by Stalin. On this tragic eve, Mustafa Dhemilev met students of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University and told them about the second occupation of his homeland, why today’s invaders are more dangerous than the Soviet ones, and some facts concerning the events before and after the referendum.

Every nation has its own iconic date consolidating people, and these dates are often linked with independence and liberation. However, the Crimean Tatars’ special date is connected with tragic events. The deportation in 1944 changed the fate of our nation drastically, being a real genocide. 46, 4% of our fellow citizens perished in the first two years after the deportation due to terrible living conditions. The ones who survived started their struggle for the return to the homeland. The struggle was exhausting and lasted for decades. The Crimean-Tatar national liberation movement declared the principle of non-violence from its very beginning and used only democratic methods. However, hundreds of our fellow citizens passed through prisons and camps. We had not yet completed the process of our return but were slowly restoring our rights, step by step. Though it was hard, we were still living in a democratic state with at least a possibility to strive for something.

And then, in February of 2014, a new occupation regime came, a regime resembling one we fought against for decades, resembling the 1950’s under Soviet rule. In some aspects, the new occupation was even worse: under Soviet rule, dissidents were put to prison but there was a clear procedure. Now people just vanish. 18 people disappeared and only 3 of them were found. The others are likely to be dead and we know who did it. Remember the murder of Reshat Ametov, the first victim. We saw him being pushed forcibly into a car. In a week, we found his dead body with traces of torture. He was probably killed by a stab wound to the eye.

Now, the Crimean Tatars can be divided into three categories. The large majority of our people, about 90%, are living with a hope that this will end soon. The others, a small part, believe the occupation is going to last long, maybe even until the end of their lives. So they are trying to get used to it and cope somehow, but it does not mean they accept it. And, there is a smallest group of people who are really afraid the occupants would leave someday because then they would have to leave too, as they are afraid of living alongside their fellow citizens who would despise them.

The policy of the Russian authorities towards the Crimean Tatars had always been two-edged. Two political courses existed, one claiming the impossibility of any negotiations and thus advocating the traditional oppression methods: splitting up, repressions, starvation. The second course proceeded from the attempts of dialogue with the Madzlis. As Putin’s attempts in this direction failed, he is now implying the first variant, using all his forces to split the Crimean Tatar people. But there is a very strong ‘but’: we’ve seen all this before. These are Soviet methods, and they are not very successful.

Throughout the whole of 2014, the events in Ukraine were in the spotlight of the world community. Nobody could imagine that in the 21st century a country would just invade another country, tear off a part and annex it. And this happened after all of Putin’s statements on respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial entity. A few months before, in November 2013, Putin had spoken about Russia’s possible actions regarding Crimea having refused any possibilities of interfering into Ukrainian politics.

10 days before the occupation, I had had first suspicions of Russia’s plans. A meeting with the Russian Federation’s spokesperson was arranged in Sevastopol. We were discussing the mutual relations between Crimea and Tatarstan when suddenly he told me he was empowered to invite me for a meeting with Putin. I asked him about the subject of the talks. He told me the future of Crimea was going to be discussed. In turn, I expressed my question why a foreign country should discuss the future of Ukrainian territory and thus refused.

When the notorious events began, there was another offer of a meeting from Moscow, but this time a totally different one. At first, there was an invitation from Mintimer Shaymiev, ex-president of Tatarstan. I accepted the invitation, but he told me next day that Putin would like to join the meeting. So I refused again. I had nothing to discuss with Putin as a part of Crimea was already under occupation. It was 12 March.

On March 16, a so-called ‘referendum’ took place. I had left Crimea by that time with Refat Chubarov, flying to Ankara. The Turkish president invited us because he was eager to know the course of events. In the afternoon, when we arrived and left the plane we saw the information on the net saying 60% of Crimean citizens had already voted. I said there would be probably 120% of voters by the evening. However, the numbers turned to be more modest: an 85% turnout was announced. It was said 95% of them voted “yes” to joining the Russian Federation.

These were total lies. We have a possibility to monitor the electoral behaviour of our fellow citizens, there are Crimean Tatars at all the voting points observing and knowing the voters by name. So, we have counted that only 900 to 1,200 people out of 180,000 Crimean Tatars with the right to vote came to the referendum. The Russian-speaking population was more active, but still less than the official numbers claimed. Actually, even in the ‘hottest’ moments the voter turnout in Crimea was never more than 60%. It equaled about 48% at the previous elections of the parliament. So we started investigations how the referendum was really held, examining information from different sources and came to a conclusion that the real turnout was only about 40%.

We received information from a secret local FSC report to in Moscow (you know, Russia is so corrupt that they offered to sell us the document) saying only 34,2% had taken part in the referendum.

Later, one of the Russian human rights activists has remarked upon this sarcastically: ”Dear Crimean citizens, congratulations on the successful holding of the referendum and joining the Russian Federation. But remember, this is the last referendum in your life”. And he was right, as now any talks on referendum regarding status of Crimea are seen as a violation of the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity.

The first thing the occupants did was put all the media under their control. Ukrainian TV channels stopped broadcasting and Russian ones took their place. This was done with the help of the so-called ‘self-defense’ who would usually just come, occupy the place and introduce the new administration. There used to be an independent Crimean-Tatar private channel ATR, and it was closed too. It was not calling openly to fight the occupants, but it was very interesting, cultural and enjoyed popularity in Crimea. It was the only channel on the occupied territory broadcasting in three languages: mostly Russian, partly Crimean Tatar and often a little Ukrainian which annoyed the occupants much. Their hostility towards anything Ukrainian was even more than towards Crimean Tatar. Now there is an air of fear in Crimea. The increasing number of denouncements reminds us of 1937. People are afraid even to talk to each other.

By April 18th, 2014, people should decide if they wish to keep Ukrainian citizenship or not. If they wished, they should apply for a special application. Those who did not automatically became Russian citizens.

But the most interesting things about this were two paragraphs in the application form. A person should confirm his awareness of Crimea being part of Russian Federation due to the treaty. So, they refused to call it an occupation or annexation. The second paragraph told the person willing to keep Ukrainian citizenship should agree that he or she was a non-resident in Crimea. That meant every 90 days he/she should leave Crimea, go to another country and on return apply to the occupation authorities to let him go home.

Also, a person without a Russian passport cannot hold an administrative position. Even if someone is dying, they are asking for a Russian passport at the hospital as medical treatment cannot be given without it. It is cynical and indecent.



Translated by: Irina Kostyshina
Edited by: Alya Shandra

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  • Lev Havryliv

    The Russian occupation of Crimea is a shared tragedy of Tatars and Ukrainians. May Tatars and Ukrainians always work together in opposing this new assault on our sovereignty and freedoms.

    • Gogol

      Not to the majority of Ukrainians in Crimea.

      Let Dzhemilev pray to the Bandera monuments in Galicia.

      • Lev Havryliv

        Russia violated international law by annexing Crimea. Tatars and Ukrainians have both suffered genocide by the hands of Russia in the past. The Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine and the genocidal deportation of the Crimean Tatars seventy one years ago.

        You have much to learn. But as a Russian troll your mind is closed. My guess is that you will follow your fuehrer Putin to the very end.

        • Gogol

          Not at all. An ICJ decision supports the idea of regions having the right to determine their fate. Kosovo doesn’t have a greater right to a changed territorial status than Crimea.

          An internationally brokered agreement on how Ukraine was to be governed was violated by the clique which overthrew the democratically elected Yanukovych. They proceeded to appoint a disproportionate number of anti-Russian Svoboda members to ministerial positions.

          FYI, the Holodomor was Soviet implemented, inclusive of Ukrainians. Crimean Tatars were deported – not exterminated. We know about Japanese North Americans during that period. BTW, the Crimean Tatars have their own aggressive past.

          Since reuniting with Rusisa, the Crimean region recognizes three official languages much unlike Kiev regime controlled Ukraien. Putin has repeatedly denounced what happened to the Crieman Tatars during WW II. On the other hand, Porky Poroshenko doesn’t have the yarbels to denounce the pro-Bandera supporters.

          • Lev Havryliv

            The Crimean referendum was an absolute farce and Russia’s annexation of Crimea is recognized only by North Korea and Syria.

            But as a Kremlin stooge I’m sure you’ll defend your fuehrer Putin to the end.

          • Al

            Ahh..Here we go again, the tired bleatings about neo-nazis by a Putin bootlicker. What some call neo-fascists, Svoboda party got less than 1 % of the vote in the last election and zero seats in Parliament. Who
            are you trying to convince here? “Kiev Government is Fascist, fascist,
            fascist”……that’s what the Russian media and Putin bootlickers are barraging us with…….but this is not what the Ukrainian Jews say. Please read an “open Letter of Ukrainian Jews to Vladimir Putin” signed by Josef Zisels, Chairman of the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine (VAAD) Ukraine and 19 other Jewish leaders.

          • Lev Havryliv

            What minority languages? Russian is spoken all over Ukraine as a result of past policies of forced Russification and suppression of the Ukrainian language by Russian rulers of Ukraine. It is the Ukrainian language that needs protection in Ukraine.

            By claiming to be defending the rights of Russian speakers Putin is using the same technique as Hitler did when he tried to justify aggression against Germany’ s neighbors as protection of German speaking people.

          • Lev Havryliv

            Your hostility to Ukraine and everything Ukrainian is evident. You are clearly a Russian chauvinist, imperialist to the core. And a hypocrite.

            Ukrainian citizens are free to speak whichever language they want in Ukraine.

            Several million Ukrainians live in the Russian Federation. They have no language or cultural rights. Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea now share that same fate.

          • Lev Havryliv

            No. I am not anti-Russian. Like most Ukrainians I despise Putin’s policy of aggression against Ukraine.

            Many Russian speakers in Ukraine supported the Euromaidan and are now active in opposing Putin’s war against Ukraine. I am disappointed and dismayed that so many Russians within Russia appear to have fallen for Putin’s anti-Ukrainian hysteria and malicious disinformation. I regard the late Boris Nemtsov a true hero of Russia and a friend of Ukraine.

            Millions of Ukrainians in Russia are denied Ukrainian newspapers, schools and institutions while in Ukraine, Russian speakers are fully accommodated in this regard.

          • Gogol

            Many ethnic Ukrainians oppose the post-Yanukovych Kiev based regimes.

            Your bunk about Ukrainians in Russia has no basis whatsoever. In Russia, just about every republic has more thsn one official language (Crimea having three, including Ukrainian).

            The number of fluent Ukrainian speakers in Russia isn’t indicative of a need for elevating Ukrainian as an official language throughout Russia.

            Svidomite whataboutism can get quite absurd.

          • Lev Havryliv

            It is an issue of language rights, not a question of official languages.

            You appear not to recognize your own double standards.

            There is really no critical issue of language rights in Ukraine. Putin has used this issue fraudulently to cover up and justify his aggression against Ukraine.

            And Kremlin-inspired stooges like you are aiding him in this process.

          • Gogol

            You misinform again. People in Ukraine (not Putin) have been harassed for speaking Russian. This includes ethnic Ukrainians who prefer speaking Russian.

            If it’s not such a big issue, then make Russian an official language, instead of trying to quash its usage.

            Putin didn’t overthrow a democratically elected government in Ukraine.

          • Lev Havryliv

            And who and what do you represent?

            The ugly face of Russian chauvinism and imperialism.

          • Al

            What are you talking about? government overthrow? You just parrot the Russian troll talking points….stop it!
            The Ukrainian government has remained the same from pre-Maidan year 2012. Only part that went missing was the president who decided to go off to Russia. I do understand the confusion though as in Russia, the president is the government.

            The current Ukrainian government was approved by the democratically elected Ukrainian Parliament, with 371 votes – more than an 82% majority. The government of Ukraine is a government of the people, the country had democratic elections on May 25th elections that allowed all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country.
            If what happened in Kiev were a coup d’etat, then one would expect the public to express some lingering support for their ousted president, or at least his party. Yet Mikhail Dobkin, candidate of Yanukovych’s Party of Regionsreceived somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-4%. Even in eastern Ukraine, Dobkin failed to show much strength.

          • Lev Havryliv

            Yanukovich was a ruthless, corrupt dictator and a puppet of Putin. He was not even democratically elected. He fled to Russia and is now being protected by Putin. If he returned to Ukraine he would be tried for murder and many other crimes.

            When did Russia last have a democratic election?

            And don’t even try kidding anyone that Putin was democratically elected.

          • Lev Havryliv

            I suggest you take your Russian propaganda elsewhere. Most readers of EuroMaidan press are far too well informed to be taken in by your crass and fraudulent nonsense.

          • Al

            Snipers……The only verifiable evidence to surface so far is videos of Berkut riot police officers shooting protesters and from the angle of bullet holes, four snipers, one at ground level and three on a bank building parapet. . Before the Berkut riot police ran to Russia, they destroyed all computers and files which could implicate them and Mr.Yanukovych in the slaughter of the protesters. Although there are other reports of snipers shooting from the roofs of some buildings, no one knows who these people were. But it seems very suspicious that the Berkut police reporting to Yanukovych would destroy the records prior to running to Russia and Donetsk.

          • Lev Havryliv

            The Holodomor of 1932-33 was a genocide of the Ukrainian people ordered and carried out by the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow.

            Stalin attempted to break the backbone of the Ukrainian nation and eliminate the Ukrainian national factor in the USSR.

          • Lev Havryliv

            Stalin and the CPSU eliminated the whole leadership of Ukrainians in power who had any Ukrainian national consciousness. A generation of Ukrainian writers , scholars, teachers, priests was wiped out. The Ukrainian language was severely suppressed as was Ukrainian culture. A process of full scale Russification was instituted

            The great famine and all of the above happened when Stalin abruptly reversed his nationalities policy.

            This was genocide. There is a huge body of scholarly work on this topic and the Holodomor is considered a case of genocide.

            I suggest you consult the works of Robert Conquest, James Mace, Miron Dolot.

          • Lev Havryliv

            Stalin reversed the policy of Ukrainization of the 1920’s. Since then all Russian rulers of Ukraine have suppressed the Ukrainian language and had a policy of Russification. The Ukrainian language has still has not recovered in many areas of Ukraine to this day.

            Many scholars regard the Holodomor as a case of genocide. We will learn much more as further archives in Ukraine are being opened up.

        • morozo44

          Get your facts straight Leo, Crimea decided its faith by a popular referendum, got independent and willfully merged with Russia. So basically Russia didn’t annex anything. The referendum in Crimea was a puppet thing no doubt about that but nor you neither the West doesn’t seen to have any trouble with Kosovo independence precedent which was a as fishy as that of Crimea. Now, I’m sorry that such a thing happened in your country but so are the ways of this world. Ukraine enjoyed a lot for 20 years for being a sister state of Russia and a loyal one at that and you can’t just get up and leave whenever you feel like it and not pay for leaving

          • Lev Havryliv

            You are dead wrong. Russia’s annexation of Crimea is pure Russian imperialism.

  • Rods

    In the aftermath of Putin falling, the Ukrainian people need to make sure they move quickly to take back all their territory, while there is confusion and paralysis in the Kremlin.

    Few dictators live their full lifespan as leaders, sooner or later Putin will follow Mubarak or Gaddafi.

    • Gogol

      Dzhemilev lies.

      A German poll concludes the majority in Crimea seek reunification with Russia.

      This reasoned desire includes the majority of Ukrainians in Crimea.

      • Rods

        Go away troll, go and spread your Putin paid for filth elsewhere. Tolls don’t last long on here and the failures end up as Russian cannon fodder fighting in Ukraine.

        Brave Ukrainian defenders going forward, Russian barrier troops if you retreat, oh dear!

        • Gogol

          On the contrary, the likes of yourself better fit the troll category.

          Svidomites thinking like yourself have ruined Ukraine.

      • Al

        Gogol, Prior to annexation by Catherine 230 years ago Crimea had nothing to do with Russia. May 1944, the entire population of the Crimean Tatars was deported in the “Sürgün” (Crimean Tatar for exile) to Central Asia by Stalin. Deportees spent 18 days in freight cars for getting to Uzbekistan. The inhuman conditions were obviously made so that people would die. Over bridges, the trains would stop, and bodies thrown in the water. Others were sent much further, to Siberia.
        Putin presents Crimea, now that it has been invaded and annexed, as eternally Russian, even though its history is a European pageant of cultures. Its Russian character is due largely to murderous expulsion of Crimean Tatars by the Stalinist regime in 1943. As Belarusian President Lukashenko has mischievously pointed out, by Putin’s own logic of ethnic history it would make more since to hand over Moscow to the Crimean Tatars than it does to hand over Crimea to Moscow.

        • Al

          Sorry my friend, Tatars are the ethnic Crimeans……who were there before Russia was formed. Putin, Stalin…same thing.

          • Al

            Gogol…ur wrong again, 1230 –Mongols arrived in the peninsula. Crimea became part of the Tatar Empire that extended from China in the east to Moscow in the west. They established their capital in Qirym (Krym)
            1783 – Crimea was absorbed by Russia and recognized the rights of the Russian nobility for all the noble families of the Khanate.
            Stalin, Hitler, Putin——same thing, dictatorship

          • Gogol

            You really don’t know your history. There’re Rus created Orthodox Christian structures in Crimea, which predate the Tatar presence in Crimea.

            Keep deluding yourself on absurd notions like Hitler, Putin and Stalin are the same thing.

          • Gogol

            BTW, even before Stalin’s aforementioned deportation, the Tatars weren’t the majority in Crimea.

            As mentioned earlier at this thread, the Crimean based Tatar Khanate established a brutal slave trade against Slavs and others. Such action greatly motivated Russia to take back Crimea. Russia being a very much historically related part of Rus – something that crackpot revisionists have sought to deny.

          • Al

            Gogol….you have been reading the Russian revised history books…..You need a new job where you can be honest instead of prostituting yourself for Putin.

  • Czech Friend

    Mustafa Dzhemilev is a true hero of human rights movement.

    As a proud citizen of a country that had Vaclav Havel for president I bow down to him in earnest and feel the pain of Crimean Tatars.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    So much for Dwarf 2’s guarantees that the rights of the Crimean minorities would be respected. His word has constantly proved to be worthless and it’s high time he is ignored by the civilized world.

    • Gogol

      Crimea was, is and will remain Russian.

      Svidomites hypocritically support some Communist decision making, when it serves their preference.

    • Lev Havryliv

      You are correct. Crimea has now been turned into a Stalinist state. A mini USSR.

  • puttypants

    Tartars and Ukrainians just need to continue fighting they way they are…continue telling the truth to anyone and everyone who will listen. Sooner or later justice will prevail.

    • Gogol

      To be specific, you mean bigoted Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians have to fight against reason for the purpose of trying to have their warped views get the upper hand.

      • puttypants

        Gogol do not use a great Ukrainian writers name to besmirch Ukraine. Please. Who’s views are warped. I think you are confused. You’re comments are sick and I’m sure you must be demented. People in Ukraine are decent and moral…so are the Crimean Tartars. Gogol is Ukrainian. But then you’ve stolen so much of Ukraine’s history that of course you wouldn’t know that!! Many of his histories are about Ukrainian villages that he got from his mother. Nope…he was not Russian no point in lying.

        • puttypants

          You really are kidding yourself. He was born in a Ukrainian village of a noble cossack. He knew very well he was Ukrainian if you read enough of his writings you would have known that. This is what I mean about Russia stealing Ukrainian writers. In fact, there are so many references to his being Ukrainian. At the time he wrote it was called both malorussiya it was also called Ukraine. All the village stories are about his Ukrainian village his mother sent him info as he worked out of St. Petersburg. Nope you’re a liar as usual. Mykola Hohol was his name and he wrote under Nicholas Gogol…but he was ukrainian and he knew it. Read some of his personal writings he actually talks about it with a friend.

          • Lev Havryliv

            You are 100% correct about Hohol.

  • Al

    Where are the Putin bootlickers in this discussion? Are they chicken?

    • Gogol

      “Chicken; of what? Chicken Kiev?

      • Al

        Well, well, well. A putin bootlicker. Chicken to address any of the issues brought up in this article about mis-treatment of the tatars by the Russians.

    • morozo44

      Good job discrediting this source, if a bootlicker is anyone who’s opinion differs from yours or that of the audience similar to you irregardless of how well constructed the opposing point actually is than you are nothing but a two bit troll yourself without even a boot to lick – after all you are all here for free right? Although you don’t even have a slightest clue

      • Al

        What’s your “well constructed opposing point”? Can you address any of the issues in this article? Maybe you can detail for us how much more freedoms the Tatars have now that the Russians have occupied Crimea? And how much better off the Crimean’s are…..Bootlicker.