Ukrainian politicians and journalists need to become the voice of Crimean Tatars who are being intimidated and forced to keep silence in Crimea – Ayder Muzhdabaev


Kyiv, February 26, 2016. Intimidation and repressions against Crimean Tatars are taking place in Crimea these days. Situation may grow into mass arrests, deportation or even genocide. That’s why Ukrainian officials and politicians need to become the voice of Crimean Tatars that they do not have now as they are in the state of permanent fear. “I appeal to Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian journalists and leaders of parliamentary parties to become the voice of Crimean Tatars who are not let express themselves in the invisible hybrid ghetto where they are surrounded with fear and threats,” said Deputy General Director of ATR Crimean Tatar TV Channel Ayder Muzhdabaev at Ukraine Crisis Media Center during the international forum “Crimea is Ukraine. Annexed peninsula between the past and the future” devoted to the problem of annexed Crimea. Ayder Muzhdabaev added that it is not acceptable to have no feedback from officials, politicians, Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to ransacking of houses of Crimean Tatars.

According to journalist and TV host Pavlo Kazarin over 23 years no one in Kyiv wanted to understand the life of regions, there was certain misunderstanding in the media, lack of will to look into “dark angles”. A series of stereotypes and myths emerged or developed over this time. Among them is the one saying that the entire population of Crimea is pro-Russian (pro-Soviet more precisely). Only 40 percent of people are actually like that. Twenty percent on the contrary are active Ukraine supporters. Remaining 40 percent are for stability and peace, they join the calmer side in ad-hoc way. Serhiy Gromenko, Crimean historian and researcher at the Ukrainian Institute for National Memory, noted that debunking myths has also an educational function that in particular explains that Crimea is not “the original Russian land”.

Pavlo Kazarin said that discussions on Crimea should not be limited to one at closed platforms. “By making the theme topical for Ukrainians on the mainland public demand will be created, it will form political rhetoric in its turn,” he said adding that timeframe on talks about Crimea needs to be agreed.

According to Serhiy Kostynskyi, member of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine following two years of information work after the Russian occupation of Ukrainian Crimea they have finally succeeded to break the silence that exists around the peninsula theme. It would be fair to say now that Ukrainian society is set to return Crimea. Civil society has published a brochure that unites most widespread myths on Crimea. “It is a roadmap that says: do write about Crimea but omit the myths, do not produce propaganda,” he noted. He said that Ukraine plans to open five radio stations that would be broadcasting to Crimea as well as the Crimean office of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine. However he underlined that the content needs to be created by journalists and civil society organizations. The state cannot create propagandist content.

According to Vitaly Portnikov, journalist at “Radio Liberty”, dialogue is only possible around “self-proclaimed” republics. Annexation of Crimea is an unprecedented event where not so many options to resolve the situation are available. Portnikov is convinced that Crimea will return to Ukraine through disintegration of Russia. “We need to speak about the problems of peoples of the Russian Federation, about of the problems of Russia itself, that it may become a normal civilized state only when it will be complying with the international law, we need to prove that decisions of its leaders contradict the constitution,” he noted. Vitaly Portnikov also noted that it is necessary to help Crimean Tatars preserve their identity on mainland Ukraine but they need to stay and struggle in Crimea as it’s their fatherland.”

Political expert and journalist Yevhen Magda is convinced that in order to return Crimea an image needs to be created demonstrating what the peninsula might be as part of Ukraine. Success and development of regions of the Black Sea basin is the key in this context. “We need to speak to youngsters first of all. They need to become the agents of change,” emphasized Magda. Pavlo Kazarin added that the struggle for Crimean school graduates and students needs to be conducted, favorable conditions in Ukrainian universities need to be created for them.