Police have arrested Crimean Tatar demonstrators in the capital of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula allegedly taking part in an unauthorised motorcade to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars during World War II.
Zaur Smirnov, Crimea’s chief of ethnic affairs on Monday said that around 100 people participating in the motorcade were cut off and some men among the demonstrators were arrested.
This year‘s commemoration services were much smaller than the events held before Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, which the majority of indigenous Crimean Tatars stood against.
Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group who controlled the Black Sea peninsula between the periods of 15th century and 18th, until the Russian annexation.
In 1944, 190,000 Crimean Tatars were exiled to various parts of central Asia and the Caucasus by the then Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin over suspicions that the ethnic group were aiding the German Nazis.
Every year on May 18 Crimean Tatars commemorate the victims of deportation.
According to the Euronews website, Crimean Tatar demonstrators who gathered to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the deportation also protested against Russian President Vladimir Putin accusing him of “increasingly restricted life.”
The autonomous government of Crimea, which was dominated by ethnic Russians, declared independence from Ukraine by organising a referendum on Russian annexation on March 16, 2014.
Having gained the approval of the vast majority of the mainly ethnic Russian population of the peninsula in the referendum - which was largely boycotted by the Crimean Tatars - Russia announced the annexation of the peninsula.
Today, there is an estimated 300,000 Crimean Tatars living in the peninsula - making up around 12 percent of the overall population.
However, the recent annexation has seen many Crimean Tatars migrate to mainland Ukraine after they refused to take Russian passports.
Crimean Tatar leaders, Mustafa Abdulcemil Kirimoglu and Refat Chubarov, were also barred from entering Crimea for five years while the Crimean Tatar Assembly was shut down.
The international community has condemned the annexation of Crimea, with economic sanctions slapped on Russia as a result.