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

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs