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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid