Feb 20, 2007

Crimean Tartars: Protest Land Seizure

Approximately 1.000 individuals protested in the Crimean capital Simferpool, demanding the return of land seized by Russian authorities over fifty years ago.

Below is an article published by Kyiv Post:

About a thousand Crimean Tatars rallied Monday on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula to demand the return of land seized after Soviet leader Josef Stalin forced the deportation of their ethnic group, said police officials.

The demonstrators briefly blocked some main streets and highways in and around the Crimean capital Simferopol, said Olexandr Dombrovsky, spokesman for regional police. No violence was reported, he said.

Lilya Muslimova, spokeswoman for the Tatar Assembly said the rally was organized on the activists' own initiative and that the Assembly had tried to discourage them from protesting because it could upset talks under way between Tatar leaders and the government about the return of land.

In 1944, Stalin accused the Crimean Tatars of collaborating with Germany's Nazis and ordered some 200,000 deported to Central Asia.

Many have returned since the 1991 Soviet collapse and have sought - mostly unsuccessfully - to reclaim property, raising tension on the multiethnic peninsula.