Seventy-seven years ago on May 18, Stalin deported the Crimean Tatars from their homeland in dramatic fashion, and every year since Crimean Tatars have marked this anniversary. Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is repeating Stalin’s crime but in slow motion, raising the question of what the anniversary of his actions will be.
But on this anniversary, the first since the easing of the pandemic, Crimean Tatars both in the homeland and abroad have stressed the commonality of the actions of Stalin and Mr. Putin and appealed for support from the international community.
They and their supporters have expressed confidence that what Stalin could not do, erase the Crimean Tatars from history, Mr. Putin will not be able to do either and that the day is not far off when there will be a Crimean Tatar state either within a secure and independent Ukraine or self-standing among the countries of the world.
Across Crimea and despite the opposition of the illegal Russian occupiers, Crimean Tatars took part in a flash mob in which they came out of their homes holding signs recalling Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 1783, Stalin’s deportation in 1944, and Mr. Putin’s Anschluss of their homeland in 2014.
Others held up homemade signs declaring, “No to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars into the Prisons of the Russian Federation,” “Rehabilitation is on paper but prison is in practice” and “May 18 (1944) continues to this day.”
Ukrainian officials issued statements in support and opened a photo exhibition on the deportation. Turkey, the EU and other countries also issued declarations on this date in support of the Crimean Tatars.
The statement of the Turkish foreign affairs ministry is particularly noteworthy. It not only condemned the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars but also called attention to the fate of the descendants of Caucasian peoples whose lands were occupied 150 years ago by tsarist Russia and who like the Crimean Tatars were expelled from their homelands.
Paul Goble is a long-time specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. The article above is reprinted with permission from his blog called “Window on Eurasia” (http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/).