Jun 30, 2015

Crimean Tatars: Celebration of the National Flag

On 26 June 2015, Crimean Tatars celebrated the day of their national flag and despite rainy weather, they unfurled a giant Tatar flag in the centre of Simferopol, now a symbolic statement since the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia.

Below is an article published by Ukraine Today:


Russia intervened in Crimea after the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych last year

Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority on the Russia-annexed Ukrainian peninsula, on Friday (June 26) celebrated the day of their national flag, unfurling a giant cloth over a pond in the centre of the city of Simferopol, Reuters reports.

Despite rainy weather, around hundred cars rushed through the city streets, with the blue flags with yellow emblems waving in the windows.

Spectators cheered as an air-balloon raised a giant Crimean Tatar flag above the waters of the pond.

Deputy Head of the Council of Ministers of the Crimean Republic, Ruslan Balbek, who came to the celebration, said it was a success.

"Today is a very significant, symbolic day for the Crimean Tatars, it is a celebration of the Crimean Tatar flag. This is a very important symbol of Crimean Tatar people. There has never been such a massive celebration, despite bad weather. Today a record has been set, the largest Crimean Tatar flag has been raised with the use of an air-balloon," Balbek said, adding that it was the biggest celebration in recent time.

Turkic-speaking Muslim community long present on the Black Sea, Tatars make up about 12 percent of Crimea's 2 million inhabitants.

Deported to central Asia on suspicion of aiding Nazi German invaders in 1944, they began to return in the 1980s and in large numbers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This year was the first time when the authorities gave permission for the Crimean Tatars to celebrate their national flag day.

One of the Simferopol residents, Refat Godzhenov, said the celebration had a symbolic meaning for him.

"This event means for us a very important fact: we had past, we have present and we will have future," Godzhenov said.

Majority of Crimean Tatars opposed the Russian annexation of the peninsula and boycotted the referendum on joining Russia in March 2014.

However, the air-balloon bore the Russian flag on it and some people had Russian symbols on their clothes. Edem Ismailov, one of the participants of the event, said he was happy to be Russia's resident.

"Yes, there is a part of (Tatar) people who do not support Russia, who do not support situation happening here, but the majority does support (Russia). And this is a matter of individual choice. That is my choice. I am a citizen of the Russian Federation and I am proud of it," Ismailov said.

Russia intervened in Crimea after the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych following deadly clashes between riot police and protesters trying to overturn his decision to spurn a trade and cooperation deal with the EU in favour of cultivating closer relations with old Soviet master Moscow.


Photo courtesy of islam.in.ua.