January 28, 2022

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Ukraine claims that the Russians have arrested more than 50 Crimean Tatars

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Twitter for the release of detained Crimean Tatars.

The Associated Press reported that Russian security forces have detained more than 50 Crimean Tatars in Crimea, referring to the statement of the Ukrainian authorities on Saturday. The Russian authorities have not commented directly on the situation.

According to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested five activists from Crimean Tatars on Friday and Saturday, including Nariman Dzilal, deputy chairman of Medlis (the informal parliament of Crimean Tatars).

Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova added that the FSB searched their homes.

In response, more than 50 Crimean Tatars gathered in front of the FSB branch in the Crimean city of Simferopol and protested against the detention of their species.

“As a result, more than 50 Crimean Tatars were arrested,” Denisova wrote on Facebook. She added that there were two journalists among the detainees, and called on “the entire international community to use all possible influence… to end the oppression of indigenous peoples.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Twitter for the release of the detained Crimean Tatars: “The people of Crimea have once again resorted to the persecution of Crimean Tatars. There are regular raids and arrests in their homes. All detainees must be released!”

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the latest wave of arrests was “in retaliation for attending the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform” and “the latest in a series of repressions by Russia aimed at intimidating and expelling the Crimean Tatras”.

Last week, Ukraine hosted the Crimean Platform, an international summit aimed at putting pressure on Russia over annexation. One of the most important issues on the agenda was the fate of the Crimean Tatars.

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Crimea was part of Ukraine until Russia designated it for its federation in 2014 based on a controversial referendum. The Russians, who make up the majority of the 2.3 million people in Crimea, broadly supported Russian annexation, but the Crimean Tatars, who make up roughly 15 percent of the population, opposed it. Since 2014, almost 30 thousand Crimean Tatars have fled the Crimea. Some of those who remained faced interference from the Russian authorities. According to Amnesty International for human rights, the Crimean authorities have indicted about 80 Crimean Tatars on various charges and 15 activists have gone missing.