World Bulletin / News Desk
Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev has voiced a message of defiance to the new Russian authorities of Crimea after he was denied access to his homeland and chief prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya threatened to liquidate the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Parliament) over the weekend.
Speaking at a press conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Monday, the former Mejlis head and current Ukrainian MP Mustafa Jemilev said that the Mejlis would never cease its work.
“They can take the building or seal it up, but Mejlis won’t cease its work. They can arrest the leaders, but new leaders will be elected,” he said.
Crimea's chief prosecutor threatened to close the Mejlis down if it was found that it engages in "extremist activities,” after the present Mejlis head Refat Chubarov organized thousands of Crimean Tatars to greet Jemilev at the Armyansk border crossing on Saturday as he tried to enter Crimea.
The Crimean Tatars were blocked off by Russian Special Forces who reportedly fired into the air to disperse the defiant Tatars. Refat Chubarov then ordered his people to pull back to avoid bloodshed. Meanwhile, Jemilev was denied access to his homeland for the second day in a row.
“If all the Mejlis offices are closed, as it was during the Soviet era, there will be underground initiative groups,” Jemilev said.
70-year-old Jemilev was banned from entering Crimea for 5 years after the ethnic Russian Prime Minister of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov accused him of working to disrupt the peace in the breakaway Ukrainian peninsula, which was annexed by Russia following the results of a March 16 referendum.
Aksyonov said that Jemilev was directing his people in the wrong way and warned that Jemilev would be responsible for the consequences that may arise from his actions.
Crimean Tatars are the native Turkic-speaking Muslim population of Crimea, who make up 13% of the population. They are largely displaced by ethnic Russians after they were exiled by former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944. After the collapse of Soviet Russia, many chose to return.
The 300,000 Crimean Tatar population largely boycotted the March 16 referendum, which they have deemed illegal and illegitimate due to it having been conducted under the threat of pro-Russian militias that occupied the region following the fall of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich's government in late February.
They have since complained that they have been victimized in Crimea, with their homes being marked by militias as well as being targeted for speaking their language in public. Jemilev warned that most officials in the Russian FSB want to exile the Crimean Tatars once again. He also appealed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convince Russian president Vladimir Putin to lift his entry ban to Crimea.Last Mod: 06 Mayıs 2014, 13:58