Kyiv, April 14, 2016. Declaring Mejlis activity extremist and suspending its activities without a court order is a signal to all disloyal citizens of Crimea, that they can be held accountable for their position, stated Yusuf Kurkchi, Head of the Department for Assistance to the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine on Crimean Tatars, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to him, there are two scenarios ahead. The Court may not support the protest of the prosecutor’s office, but “this play would be too subtle for these actors”. “Most likely, the prosecution is just making a show of their capabilities and professional skills, meaning that such people and such” professionals “can implement any idea of the authorities and close activities of any organization that is defending citizens’ rights,” noted Mr. Kurkchi. However, such steps of the Crimean occupation authorities are expected, he said. This does not mean that the activities of the Mejlis will be suspended. On the other hand, explains Mr. Kurkchi, it increases the risk that any Crimean Tatar, who participated in the election of Kurultai and supported Mejlis activities, can be brought to justice. Similarly, businessmen who assisted in the implementation of Mejlis projects, fall under the article “Funding extremist activities.”
Yulia Tyschenko, Assistant to MP Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, believes that the decision of the Crimean Prosecutor General can be viewed as pressure on the court. She says that according to the self-proclaimed Crimean authorities’ interpretation, all representatives of local Mejlis, which is more than 3 000 people, along with their families, are threatened. “This whole staged situation shows that various interpretations are possible […] these political decisions, not only of Crimean self-proclaimed authorities but also the Russian leadership, point to the lack of any opportunities to find a compromise,” says Ms. Tyschenko. If you look at it globally, the resolution on the Mejlis activities is a reaction to international events, she continues. In particular, discussions of the Crimean issue at the UN Security Council and other signals sent to Russia. However, such harassment on ethnic grounds in Crimea is illegal. “And it is a signal to the international community that raising concerns or monitoring the situation is not enough today,” emphasized Ms. Tyschenko.
“They introduce a public ban on the Mejlis and not just as an institution, but the ‘Crimean Tatarism’”, this is how Emine Dzheppar, Advisor to the Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, explains the recent decision of the Crimean prosecutor. “And this opens up great horizons for the occupation authorities to punish every Crimean Tatar.” According to Ms. Dzheppar, the craftiness of this situation is that “justice” over the Mejlis is implemented by judges and prosecutors who are, in fact, citizens of Ukraine. “For they did not renounce Ukrainian citizenship, and their Russian citizenship is in question. They are not legitimate today, but they condemn the legitimate representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, which is today the Mejlis and Kurultai,” noted Ms. Dzheppar. She called it absurd that the occupation authorities declare the Crimean Tatars not indigenous people who have no right to self-determination and representative government. “The main guarantee of Mejlis security today is synchronized attitude to the people as indigenous at all levels in Ukraine,” stressed Ms. Dzheppar.
Tamila Tasheva, co-founder of the civil initiative “Crimea.SOS”, noted that in addition to prosecution of the Crimean Tatars and disloyal Ukrainian, there are other disturbing trends in Crimea. Among them are deterioration of living conditions and militarization of the peninsula. She said that since the occupation of Crimea began, Russia had had no intention to turn it into an economically developed region; instead it planned to have a military base there. And it has been moving this way purposefully. It is a very ominous trend, according to Ms. Tasheva, that military bases and formations located close to the administrative border with Ukraine periodically organize demo trainings and shoot toward the Ukrainian border, provoking the Ukrainian military.
In addition, Ms. Tasheva says, now there is a wave of extrusion of the Crimean Tatars and the non-content from the Crimean territory. “The official data say that 21 000 people left Crimea but, in fact, there are much more. […] Over the past six months, there were 68 000 people more of those who left for the mainland than those who arrived. These are very big numbers,” reported Ms. Tasheva. “That is, on the one hand, the Crimean authorities force people to leave Crimea, and on the other, they are replaced by the population coming from mainland Russia. There is a risk that the occupation authorities want to “saturate” Crimea with most loyal people. “This is directly contrary to the international humanitarian law. […] The displacement of the population is an international crime for which, indeed, Russia will have to answer,” said Ms. Tasheva.