A Russian local court in Crimea’s Simferopol (Aqmescit) has issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Abdulcemil Kirimoglu who is the former chairman of National Assembly of Crimean Tatars (KTMM).
Kirimoglu, current KTMM chairman Refat Chubarov, and other leading members have previously been banned from entering Crimea for five years by Russia, which unilaterally annexed the peninsula in 2014.
The peninsula was annexed by the Russian Federation from Ukraine on March 21, 2014, following a referendum which was held on March 17, which was deemed unconstitutional by Ukraine and held against the wishes of the international community and Crimea’s native Tatar population led by Kirimoglu and Chubarov.
Crimea became part of independent Ukraine following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Crimean Tatar leadership was able to found a parliament (Kurultai in Turkish) in 1991.
Crimea’s Russian top prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya has announced that she applied to a court with an accusation that “Kirimoglu has been an organiser for Ukraine’s Crimea blockade,” and the respective Russian court accepted her application.
Vladimir Konstantinov, who is the speaker of the Crimea’s self-proclaimed Russian parliament, previously claimed that Kirimoglu could be arrested after the present Ukrainian government was replaced.
Kirimoglu is currently a Crimean deputy at the Ukrainian Parliament.
Kirimoglu, Chubarov, Tatar ATR TV channel owner Lenur Islamov, and other Tatar community leaders have organised a “long-term blockade” of roads leading from Ukraine to the Crimean peninsula in protest against the export of goods from Ukraine to Russia via Crimea in late September.
Kirimoglu is a former Soviet dissident and spent many years in Soviet prisons because of his struggle for the rights of the Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland from where he was deported with his family when he was just six years old.
The entire Crimean Tatar population of 240,000 people were exiled in May 1944 to Central Asia, mainly to Uzbekistan. The order was given by Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union which was established following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917.
The exile brought further tragedy to the Tatars, who were already hurt by the previous forced mass migrations from Crimea. Half of the Tatar population reportedly died of cold, hunger, exhaustion and disease when the group was deported to Central Asia.
More than 250,000 Tatars have gradually returned to the peninsula and now constitute approximately 13 percent of Crimea’s population after the period of Perestroika [“Restructuring”] launched by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s.
A recent report prepared by an unofficial delegation of Turkish academics determined in mid-June that Crimea’s unrecognised Russian government has purposely and persistently violated the rights and freedoms of the Crimean Tatars following the Russian annexation of the peninsula in March 2014.