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Instead of Voting, Crimean Tatars held Festivities

Instead of Voting, Crimean Tatars held Festivities
Article by: Mustafa Chaush
Edited by: Mat Babiak & Daniel Centore

On September 14, instead of taking part in Russian elections, Crimean Tatars living in Bakhchisaray, Crimea’s historical capital, participated in other events. Local women’s organizations initiated a discussion on educational issues in the Crimean Tatar language in kindergartens and a flashmob, during which the women fried and served chiburekki, the national dish of the Crimean Tatars.

In the children’s center in the neighborhood of compact residence of the Crimean Tatars, which has traditionally housed a polling station, there were neither ballots nor ballot boxes. Instead of voting, a meeting took place of teachers and specialists in early childhood education in the Crimean Tatar language.

Dilyara Seyitvelieva, head of the Council of Teachers, fears that the new realities of annexed Crimea will result in the loss of gains reached in the last decade in education in Crimean Tatar language.

“In the current difficult conditions it is important for us to preserve the possibility of being educated in our native language. It has always been important, but now it has become particularly acute in connection with the transition of the entire education system to the Russian model. We do not want to lose something that has been achieved over the years”, says Seyitvelieva.

While women were engaged in the preservation of their mother tongue, the men prepared a treat for them – an aromatic rice dish called pilaf. One of the chefs, Ayder, said that given the political situation in the Crimea, he sees no reason to participate in the electoral process and would prefer to spend the day participating in public affairs.

A resident of Bakhchysaray, 92-year old Hulsum Seydametova, received a telegram from the Kremlin on May 9th, with Vladimir Putin congratulating her regarding Victory Day. However, during the first elections in “Russian” Crimea, no one from the woman’s family participated. “There is no one to choose. We know who these people are and how they are with us, Crimean Tatars”, says Hulsum’s Zera Yuzbasheva. “The Mejlis was right, it is useless to go. I think that they are trying to scare us with police searches, but there is not fear,” continued Zera.

Chiburekki instead of elections

69C1554E-BE2B-41EE-A8C6-8213C84F581E_w640_r1_sAnother initiative of the local women became the “chiburekki instead of elections” flashmob. On this day, the women of Bakhchysaray prepared national dishes in their homes and invited their guests over for the treat. Hulzar, a resident of the old part of the city, said that she does not believe in the democracy and fairness of these elections.

“Everything is already decided. My family didn’t and will not to go the elections. We had many guests, who also did not go to the elections. I made chiburekki for them. We had a great day,” says Hulzara.

Earlier, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, as well as a number of Crimean Tatar organizations, including those opposed to the Mejlis, urged their compatriots to boycott the elections under the occupation. Also the representatives of Ukrainian organizations and the associations of  IDP from Crimea declared their non-recognition of the elections.

Edited by: Mat Babiak & Daniel Centore
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