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Tatar Leader: Russian Action in Crimea Illegal

Crimean Tatars, the indigenous Muslim people of Ukraine, will not consent to the Russian takeover of the Crimean peninsula, says Refat Chubarov, the speaker of the Tatar National Assembly.

The Crimean Tatars are a Turco-Mongol ethnic group whose descendants go back to the Mongolian empire of Genghis Khan. They are represented by the semi-official legislative body called the Crimean Tatar National Assembly.

Speaking with VOA's Turkish service, Chubarov said by that sending its troops to Crimea, Russia "has gone over its limits."



"We cannot tell what else goes in Putin's mind or what else he is planning. But we believe that Russia's illegal actions can only be stopped by the United States and Russia's strong neighbors."



Many Tatars harbor fierce hatred for Russia and have long proudly boasted of their enthusiasm for independent Ukraine. Thousands of Tatars marched in favor of unity with Kyiv last week.



The Tatars were deported to Central Asia under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Some were able to move back to Crimea after Ukraine declared independence in 1991.

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Veiled women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from Koran urging women to wear a hijab in the northern province of Raqqa, March 31, 2014.

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