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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid