Crimean Tatars: Ukraine Expresses Solidarity as Russia’s Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Mejlis
Photo courtesy of Serhil Nuzhnenko @RadioSvoboda
On 9 September 2016, the Supreme Court in Moscow ruled that the Mejlis – the Crimean Tatars’ elected self-governing body – would remain banned. The ban had been imposed on 26 April 2016 by Crimea’s so-called Supreme Court, which is managed by Russian occupation authorities. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kiev, the banning of the Mejlis was done under "a far-fetched pretext of 'fighting extremism”. The ban is a symptom of the oppression of the indigenous Crimean Tatars, who have been suffering harassment and enforced disappearances since Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula in 2014.
Below is an article published by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested a ruling by Russia's Supreme Court that upheld a ban on the Mejlis, the self-governing body of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine's occupied territory of Crimea.
The ministry said in a statement that "the ban against the activities of the supreme representative and executive body of the Crimean Tatar people" was "openly blasphemous" and was done under "a far-fetched pretext of 'fighting extremism." The statement demanded that Russia immediately lift its ban and end what it called "the oppression of the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea."
Russia's Supreme Court ruling on September 29 upheld the decision of a Moscow-backed Crimean court to ban the Mejlis. Mejlis' lawyer Kirill Koroteyev said the Russian court ruling will be appealed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
On April 26, more than two years after Russia seized and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Crimea's pro-Russian Supreme Court branded the Mejlis as an extremist organization and officially banned it. The Mejlis had been legalized by the Ukrainian government in 1999.
Crimea's indigenous Tatars make up about 12 percent of Crimea's population of 2.5 million people. Many Crimean Tatars fled the territory after it was seized by Russian military forces in February 2014 and illegally annexed by Moscow in March 2014. Crimean Tatars who have remained in the occupied territory complain of harassment and enforced disappearances under the Moscow-backed authorities there.
Russia has been severely criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority since the annexation.