News / Europe

Fear Is in the Air Among Crimean Tatars

Mudasir Kafodar, a 55-year-old Crimean Tatar is pictured with his granddaughters.
Mudasir Kafodar, a 55-year-old Crimean Tatar is pictured with his granddaughters.
Tom Balmforth, RFE/RL
— At first glance, the village of Fontany 5 exudes a sleepy suburban calm.

But below the surface of this Crimean Tatar settlement of about 500 people, there is fear.



Russian troops are stationed just a few kilometers away on the streets of the Crimean capital, Simferopol. And rumors are in the air of looming attacks against Tatars.



Mudasir Kafodar, a 55-year-old ethnic Tatar, holds his young granddaughter in the garden of his two-story stone house as his other six grandchildren played nearby.



“We want to live in peace. But Russian troops have entered our territory - Ukrainian territory - and armed men are walking around. It scares us - not just me, but all of us,” Kafodar says.

“They don’t say anything. They don’t explain who they are. But it’s clear they’re not Ukrainian - they’re Russian.”



Kafodar was born in Uzbekistan and in 2000 moved back to Crimea, which he considers his homeland. His parents - now 93 and 85 - were deported by Stalin in 1944. He has built his own family's ancestral home from scratch and now fears losing it.



Tatars make up roughly 12 percent of Crimea's two million inhabitants. Most were deported to Soviet Central Asia by Josef Stalin during World War II, accused of collaborating with the Nazis, and only returned after Ukraine won its independence in 1991.



Sevastopol and Simferopol, Crimea, UkraineSevastopol and Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
x
Sevastopol and Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
Sevastopol and Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
And unlike the vast majority of Crimean residents, most Tatars supported the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv that toppled the pro-Moscow regime of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. They also are strong supporters of Ukrainian independence, of Crimea remaining in Ukraine, and of Kyiv’s drive for European integration.



And with the Russian troops now in the picture, many fear Crimea could fall under Moscow's sway.



But for Tatars like Kafodar the Russian military is not the only fear.



Rumors of attacks

For the more than two decades since Ukrainian independence, Crimean Tatars have lived together uneasily on the peninsula with ethnic Russians, who make up roughly 60 percent of the population and who yearn for Crimea to be part of Russia.



Kafodar says rumors of attacks against Tatars in nearby villages, rumors that RFE/RL has been unable to independently confirm, are raising alarm bells.



“What can we do? We are a peaceful people. We are not preparing for anything. What can we do?” Kafodar asks.

“Several nights ago...unidentified men went to the house of Crimean Tatars and beat up the father and son.  They are in the hospital. Now they say unidentified men are going to attack [settlements like ours].”



With Cossacks and other pro-Moscow groups marching through the streets of Simferopol chanting "Russia! Russia!" Kafodar and other villagers are taking measures - albeit modest - to defend themselves. Every evening, he says, about 20 residents of Fontany 5 keep a look out.



Kafodar says they do not carry weapons and hope to appeal to would-be assailants that they are peaceful.

“We are Crimean Tatars. We live here. We don’t need this [military action and unrest]. But we are a peaceful people. We are not planning anything bad. We aren’t even saying a word.”



In the Crimean capital, Simferopol, meanwhile, Tatar civic leaders were nervous but defiant. The Crimean Tatar Assembly, or Medjlis, was buzzing with activity on March 1 as groups of men nervously discussed the unfolding situation.



Ali Khamzii, a representative of the Medjlis, says “it seems like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has given the order to occupy Crimea.”

“And he will send forces to the east as well. I can say only one thing. I am not going to flee. This is not Ukrainian land, it’s not Russian land; this is Crimean Tatar land.”

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kirei Kireev
March 28, 2014 3:05 AM
Well, I think also it must be said:
few people know that actually all Tatars are one nation. Only in the anti Tatar and anti Horde ideology they were divided into “different nations": "Crimean", "Volga", "Siberian" and many "other" Tatars - so that to crush them separately.
All about this is explained in the book "Forgotten Heritage of Tatars" (by Galy Yenikeyev). It is about hidden real history of Tatars and their fraternal Turkic peoples. This e-book you can easily find on Smashwords company website: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MIG17

There are a lot of previously little-known historical facts, as well as 16 maps and illustrations in this book.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid