News / Europe

Russia Courts Crimea’s Muslims

Russia Courts Crimea’s Tatar Muslimsi
X
James Brooke
June 09, 2014 11:34 PM
Three months after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, the Russian ruble is now the currency and half of Crimea’s 2.3 million residents have applied for Russian passports. But there's one cloud on this Black Sea landscape - Crimea’s Muslim minority, the Tatars. James Brooke reports from Moscow.
James Brooke
Three months after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, the Russian ruble is now the currency of the peninsula, and half of Crimea’s 2.3 million residents have applied for Russian passports. But there is one cloud on this Black Sea landscape - Crimea’s Muslim minority, the Tatars.
 
A Moscow show of paintings by Crimean Tatars brings out Russia’s elite.
 
Ravil Gainutdin, Russia’s Grand Mufti, or supreme Muslim leader, visited Crimea right after Russia’s annexation. He welcomes Crimea’s 250,000 Tatars into the family of Russia’s 20 million Muslims.
 
"I hope that Crimean Tatars will gain decent living conditions and political representation as Russian citizens," said Gainutdin.
 
Mikhail Margelov, a member of the Russian parliament's upper chamber (the Federation Council) and Muslim expert, reminds reporters that in April, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that rehabilitates Tatars after their mass deportation from Crimea by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944.
 
"The new law will wipe out the legacies of the crime of the 1944 deportation," said Margelov.
 
But one room away from the official press conference, Mamut Churlu, a Crimean Tatar artist, says many Crimean Tatars worry about the return of rule by Moscow. He recalls the night in March when Crimeans voted to join Russia, a referendum boycotted by Tatars.
 
“People spent the night fully dressed with their luggage ready.They thought they were going to be deported," said Churlu.
 
May 18 marked the 70th anniversary of the deportations. Last month, there were memorials and a rally - in Kyiv.
 
Rally participants chanted:  “Ukraine is the most important.”  They carried a banner reading: “Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians are Brothers.”
 
Up to 15,000 Tatars left Crimea after Moscow took over. Anifer Kursitova, fled with her family to Kyiv.

"It is difficult to be a refugee, and I hope to return to Crimea to live if the political environment opens up," said Kursitova.
 
At the May 18 rally, Mustafa Dzhemilev, the Tatars’ leader from Soviet days, called for an end to Russian control of Crimea.
 
“I hope that in the nearest future Crimean Tatars will have a new date to celebrate, that of the end of occupation," said Dzhemilev.
 
But that date may be far away.

Sergei Aksyonov, the de facto prime minister of Russia-controlled Crimea, has banned Dzhemilev from returning to Crimea. Last month, Aksyonov banned Tatar gatherings on the anniversary of the deportation. Several took place, but with Russian military helicopters hovering overhead.
 
Moderates worry that if Crimea’s Tatar minority feels oppressed, some young men will join other Russian-speaking Muslims fighting in Syria. Last month, a Syria-based Crimean Tatar jihadist called on Crimean Tatars to come to Syria for military training - or to carry out holy war at home.
 
Abdul Karim Krymsky is the deputy commander of the Muhajireen Army:
 
"Muslims and Tatars in Crimea have been humiliated and that now is the time for holy war," said Krymsky.
 
Back in Moscow, time will tell if the Kremlin can avoid radicalization by giving Crimean Tatars economic aid and political breathing room.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid