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Is the Mejlis on the brink of forced emigration from Crimea?

Is the Mejlis on the brink of forced emigration from Crimea?
Article by: Mustafa Chaush
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

Simferopol – The Russian government of the annexed peninsula continues pressuring the ethnic minority, the indigenous people, the Crimean Tatars, who do not acknowledge the fact of Crimea’s annex. The recent actions on part of Russian law enforcement de facto destroyed the representative body of the nation, the Mejlis, having captured its building and threatened with cruel persecution for political insubordination. Experts think that the Mejlis can only continue its work outside of the peninsula. 

All the actions that will be aimed at the disregard of Crimea’s accession to Russia, will be punished severely. This statement was made by the self-proclaimed ‘Prime Minister’ of Crimea Sergey Aksionov in an interview to Russian newspaper Kommersant, when answering the question regarding further communication between the Crimean government with the Crimean-Tatar population of the peninsula.

The persecution of the representative of the Crimean-Tatar nation has become a tendency in annexed Crimea. Searches and checks on part of the Russian special services are executed in buildings, schools, medrese and mosques. The activists are being intimidated and fined.

Crimean Tatar leaders connect this with the position of the majority of Crimean Tatars, that they do not acknowledge the Russian government on the peninsula and with the Mejlis’ calls to boycott the so-called elections which were held on September 14 with low attendance rates.

Dzhemilev: Crimean Tatars will continue to adhere to non-violent rebellion

The so-called ‘Crimean Self-Defense’ made lists of the representatives of the local Crimean Tatar Mejlis’, whom they want to dispose of. This was stated to Radio Liberty by the national leader of the Crimean Tatars, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament Mustafa Dzhemilev.

He noted that Crimean Tatars will respond with making their own lists of ‘self-defense’ representatives, however they will adhere to principles of non-violence, which are traditional for the national movement of Crimea’s indigenous population. Dzhemilev will also report on the situation with mass violation of Crimean Tatar rights in New York, where he is currently paying a visit, having been invited by US politicians, and participating in the session of the first Global Conference for Indigenous Nations issues.

“The biggest source of destabilization in Crimea is Mr. Aksionov himself. There should be normal, diplomatic leaders, who are able to build relations. This is a ‘guy with a grenade,’ who is wagging it back and forth, threatening to kill those who disagree with him… Maybe it is time to look at the ‘root of the evil,’ which lies within him?” notes Mejlis member Zayir Smedliayev. According to the official, the latest declarations of the self-proclaimed ‘Prime Minister’ of Crimea, in which he accuses the Crimean Tatars of his own mistakes, may negatively influence international peace on the peninsula.

Expert: the Mejlis is a dangerous resistance stronghold for the Russian government

Obviously, the Crimean Tatar Mejlis will be unable to work in Russian-annexed Crimea, says deputy head of the Center of Near-Eastern Studies Serhiy Danylov. According to him, the situation surrounding the Mejlis was predicted and the analysis expected such a turn of events after the September 14 elections.

“Any self-government structures in the pre front zone constitute a special threat from the point of view of Russian special services and those who determine the policies. If the Crimea remained in the rear, in case of total obedience, cooperation with the Crimean Russian government, the Mejlis would have remained functional in some form. However, they decided it is dangerous to make an effort trying to work with a structure which may theoretically become a stronghold of resistance. I think it (the Mejlis) will cease to exist,” said Daylov.

The expert also noted that the Mejlis will try to take up other forms of work, preserve self-organization and the existing structures.

As Radio Liberty previously reported, in the morning of September 16, the Mejlis building in Simferopol was surrounded by people with machine guns, and a search was carried out. The Crimean MIA and Investigation Committee refused to comment.

During the search, they confiscated protocols of some Mejlis assemblies, money, several religious books, computer equipment, as well as the personal belongings of Ukrainian Parliament Member Mustafa Dzhemilev.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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