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The first ‘national traitor’: a Crimean Tatar

by Ayder Muzhdabaev

Ayder Muzhdabaev
Ayder Muzhdabaev

Well, I guess we should be congratulated: Russia has already started revealing the ‘national traitors’. In line with the demands of our time, this campaign took off with a representative of the ‘traitor people’—the Crimean Tatars.

As though they were following some command, all controlled media have published planted articles, featuring one of the most remarkable (this is not a figure of speech, but my strong opinion) representatives of the Crimean Tatar people: Lenur Islyamov.

Following the best practices of Stalin-Goebbels media, without burdening themselves with any proof, their ‘authors’ contend that Lenur is a Russophobe, an Islamist, and practically a step removed from being a terrorist. Any moment now, he could be ‘appointed’ Al Qaida’s emissary in the Crimea.

Why in Crimea, you might ask? Because Lenur Islyamov—a completely secular person, citizen of Russia, Muscovite, entrepreneur—decided to aid his people in reviving their culture and language in their homeland.

Lenur invested his own money to found ATR, the first-ever Crimean Tatar television channel. In just three years, it has become the most popular channel among Crimean viewers of any nationality.

ATR broadcasts in three languages (Russian being the primary one); the channel features analytical, cultural, educational, musical, sports, cooking, children’s, and other programs, along with the best talk shows in Crimea (just visit their website,, to see for yourself). But those who regularly follow the news no longer even need to be told about ATR; over the past few weeks, this Crimean Tatar TV channel is being watched not only by the whole of Ukraine, but also by the whole world, including the reasonable people in Russia. I think there’s also no need to talk about the dedication and diligence of ATR’s journalists, who come to work every day in anticipation of being shut down by the new authorities; this is also clear to everyone.

Another thing: last year, Lenur fulfilled the dream of the Crimean Tatar people and produced a widescreen historical movie called ‘Khaitarma’ featuring well-known Russian and Ukrainian actors. This movie is about the tragedy of deportation, which resulted in the deaths of four out of ten of the Crimean Tatars. It is also the story about the fate of Ametkhan Sultan, one of the best World War II pilots and twice a Hero of the USSR.

Those who dare to refer to this movie as Russophobic, without even having watched it, are simply devoid of conscience. This is a movie about a terrible Stalinist crime, about love, and about the honor of the people of all ethnicities.

Finally, Lenur had recently launched the project of his dreams: the Crimean Tatar children’s TV channel LALE (Little Tulip), where children can hear their native literary language. To put things into perspective and explain the importance of this, here’s an explanation: only about 20% of Crimean Tatars are fluent in their native language, due to deportation and persecutions. Now imagine a situation like this with the Russian language—you’ll be terrified.

Now it looks like Lenur will have to pay the price for doing all of these things for his people (note that the list above is far from an exhaustive listing of Islyamov’s assistance to the people in Crimea).

His Moscow-based businesses are being subjected to ceaseless inspections. It’s not difficult to predict the outcome, despite the fact that Lenur is a law-abiding citizen and that his business is fully transparent.

Planted (mandated) articles have basically issued an ultimatum to Islyamov: cease the independent operation of ATR, or else end up in jail as the leader of some sort of radical Islamist group.

It’s the same principle as under Stalin: as long as there’s a person, we can cook up a case. I suppose they will then follow the same patterns to cook up cases against other well-known Crimean Tatars: Islamic terrorism, subversive activity, incitement of inter-ethnic hatred. All of the phenomena that have never existed in Crimea, and everything that is now being hastily fabricated by the deceitful TV programs.

Russia will soon ‘learn’ that Crimea is a den of terrorists, and the new round of my people’s Road to Calvary will start.

I’m afraid this is the answer to the question regarding assurances of protection of the Crimean Tatars, given in the Russian President’s conversation with Mustafa Dzhemilev. How can there be any talk of rights for everyone else when the new authorities are already thinking about banning entry to Crimea to Dzhemilev himself—a world-famous person on the scale of Sakharov or Mandela, who dedicated his entire life to the mission of returning his people to Crimea, spending 15 years in the Soviet torture chambers in the process?

I’m afraid my people are going to get cleansing rather than protection. First, the cleansing will target its best representatives, its intelligentsia, and then it will spread to everyone else who dares speak his mind.

If things continue along this path, then the principal rights of the Crimean Tatars in their own homeland will be:

  • the right to live in a moral ghetto: we are already seeing insults on the basis of ethnic origin; Crimean Tatars are humiliated on the streets, in schools, on public transportation, and people try not to go anywhere on their own;

  • the right to keep silent in our own language, which has become a ‘state’ one.

If this is the reason why my country, Russia, has decided to annex Crimea, then there is a term from history to describe this, but I don’t want to utter it. Since the state TV channels have already started accusing the Jews of Holocaust, there’s no longer a need to utter it.


Translated by Olga Ruda, edited by Robin Rohrback


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