The World War II veteran memorial in the village of Mamashay (Orlovka) near Sevastopol in Russia-annexed Crimea with names of Crimean Tatar veterans destroyed only three days after its installation. Photo: Crimean Tatars (Facebook)
Whenever a leader sends signals that one group is preferred and all others are excluded, there is always the danger that those in the “preferred” group will take that as a signal that they can attack others precisely because their ruler has sent that signal. That has now happened in Russian-occupied Sevastopol – and tragically it is likely to happen elsewhere.
In his nationwide speech on May 9, Vladimir Putin ignored the contributions of other countries and non-Russians within the Russian Federation and the former Soviet space to the triumph over Hitlerism. Not surprisingly this privileging of Russians has sparked protests from others who know the truth and led some Russians to act in highly offensive ways.
Incoming Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyi was blunt about this: “The war affected every Ukrainian family. The contribution of Ukrainians to victory was enormous. No one has the right to privatize this victory or say that it could have taken place without the Ukrainians.”
“The war affected every Ukrainian family. The contribution of Ukrainians to victory was enormous. No one has the right to privatize this victory or say that it could have taken place without the Ukrainians.”
But an indication of what words like Putin’s can do that may prove even worse was on display in Crimea. There, in the village of Orlovka in Sevastopol, Crimean journalists report, vandals desecrated a memorial to those Crimean Tatars who died fighting in World War II.
The monument was put up only three days ago to supplement one that had been put up there in the 1960s and had only six names because it excluded all Crimean Tatar veterans. Money for the new monument was collected by the local Crimean Tatar community. It listed 64 residents of the village who fought in the war against Hitler. Fifty-seven of these were Crimean Tatars.
Significantly and sadly, the journalists report, “the force structures of Crimea have not officially reported this incident.”
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