Crimean Tatars’ return from deportation documented by project on Ukraine’s wild 90’s | WATCH ONLINE

Crimea, History

Article by: Christine Chraibi

On May 18, Ukraine commemorated the Day of Remembrance of the Deportation of Crimean Tatars, who the Soviet leadership deported from their native Crimean peninsula upon orders of Joseph Stalin in 1944. Exiled to Central Asia and prohibited from returning to Crimea for 45 years, this indigenous nation only started making the long way in the last days of the Soviet Union. A project about Ukraine’s Wild 90’s released a documentary of the turbulent times and the people who fought for their right to live in their homeland. English subs are available.

The long way home: deportation and return of Crimean Tatars to their Homeland 

The documentary, aired by Ukraine’s Public Broadcaster Suspilne, is part of the project “NASHI 30” (“Our 30’s”), which on the eve of Ukraine’s 30th independence day is paying homage to the tumultuous events of the days when the USSR was already crumbling, but a new life was yet to emerge.

The film consists of narratives recounting how Crimean Tatar families returned to Crimea after a long period of exile and suffering in remote Russian territories. The protagonists explain how they began a new life away from home, in a strange and cold land, where they were denied proper housing, decent work, with little local support, and persistent difficulties in dealing with Soviet bureaucracy.

Ten things about the Crimean Tatar deportation you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask

 

 

The filmmakers, journalists Natalia Humeniuk and Anna Tsyhyma, wanted to give the survivors the opportunity to recount their return to Crimea, how and why Crimean Tatars were so determined and united to return, and the fate of those who were forced to leave their homes again in 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea.

NASHI 30

Crimean Reset. Return of the Crimean Tatars to their ancestral Homeland / NASHI 30

The Crimean Tatars, led by the Crimean Tatar National Movement Organization, were not allowed to return to Crimea from exile until the beginning of Perestroika in the mid-1980s. Upon their return, they were faced with opposition from both local authorities and the brainwashed, propaganda-ridden population. The Soviet authorities in place at that time called it a “Tatar takeover,” but for the Crimean Tatars it was a “historic reset.”

“In 1991, Crimean Tatars welcomed Ukraine’s independence, hoping that the young state would treat them fairly and that they would no longer be considered second-class citizens. Unfortunately, inertia and apathy, inherited from the Soviet regime lasted years. The same Soviet-formed officials remained in power. Crimean Tatars continued to rally, organize strikes and pickets… so the authorities used force and intimidation, as was the case in the village of Chervony Rai. It took years for the wall between the Crimean Tatars and the local population to disappear,” description of the documentary.

After Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea in February 2014, many Crimean Tatars were again forced to flee persecution and seek a new life in other regions of Ukraine.

More information about the Crimean Tatars’ return is available in Ukrainian on the website of the project.

NASHI 30 project dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. Its goal is to evoke the turbulent 1990s, as recounted by Ukrainians from all walks of life and from the four corners of the country. It consists of a series of documentaries (videos, reports) and podcasts, and will also focus on live narratives related to memories and reflections of ordinary Ukrainians about important events and phenomena of the early 1990s, which interest and unite Ukrainians of different political views. These include as follows:

  • miners’ protests/strikes in the Donbas;
  • environmental protests in the aftermath of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster;
  • Ukraine and the war in Afghanistan;
  • how Ukrainian women made ends meet during the turbulent 90s;
  • Crimean Tatars return to their Homeland Crimea.

Euromaidan Press will be publishing documentaries from this project with English subtitles – keep tuned!

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