Turkey slams Russian crackdown on Crimean Tatars

Turkey's stance was expressed just one day after masked and armed Russian FSB officers and policemen encircled the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (parliament) building in Simferopol to reportedly conduct a search.

Turkey slams Russian crackdown on Crimean Tatars

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey has announced that it does not recognize the recent parliamentary elections that were held in Crimea, the first election in the peninsula since Russia annexed it in March.

In a statement read out by the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic, it was said “Turkey does not recognize the illegal annexation of The Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”

The statement then went on to say: “Within this framework, ‘elections’ held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on September 14, 2014, have no validity for our country.”

Turkey's stance was expressed just one day after masked and armed Russian FSB officers and policemen encircled the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (parliament) building in Simferopol to reportedly conduct a search.

Regarding the raid, Bilgic's statement said: “We condemn such actions that are aimed at suppressing the Tatar community, Crimea's native people, and urge that these actions be ended immediately.”

Crimean Tatar representatives have claimed that the search was conducted after the Crimean Tatar community refused to participate in the parliamentary elections, declaring a boycott of the polls.

“So-called Crimean Tatar representatives, who had to insure Crimean Tatar turnout during Parliament elections on September 14, did not deal successfully with their task,” Mejlis deputy head Ahtem Chiygoz said, adding that this was the reason why the Mejlis building was searched, as well as the homes of Mejlis members.

Dilyaver Akiev, head of the secretariat of the Mejlis, told Reuters by phone, "The policy of mounting pressure on us, on the Mejlis and the community, continues and is growing in force."

"That is to force us to conform with the new authorities, especially now after the elections. But we are not breaking any laws, there are no grounds for any searches," he added.

CRIMEAN TATARS 'TARGETED'

Since the annexation in March, around 3,000 Crimean Tatars have left the peninsula for mainland Ukraine.

The U.N. has also pointed to the erosion of human rights in Crimea, which remains under the occupation of pro-Russian militias who particularly threaten the Crimean Tatars.

Crimean Tatars have complained that they have been targeted for speaking their Turkic language in public and have had their homes marked by pro-Russian militiamen.

The Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Parliament) was also threatened with closure after they organized protests for former Mejlis head Mustafa Jemilev, who has been barred from entering the peninsula for five years along with current leader Refat Chubarov.

Earlier this month, Qirim News Agency general coordinator Ismet Yuksel was also given the same five-year ban.

The Crimean Tatars have largely opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, fearing a repeat of the events of 1944 when they were completely expelled as part of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's policy.

They gradually started returning in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, but still live as a minority in their homeland as they were displaced by ethnic Russian settlers who migrated there later on.

Since the annexation, Russia has been granting Russian citizenship to the people of Crimea in replacement of their Ukrainian nationality. Crimean Tatars, who have campaigned to reject Russian citizenship, reserve the right to remain as Ukrainian citizens, but will by default become foreigners in their homeland.

Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2014, 15:15
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