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Crimea Tatars say leader banned by Russia from returning

The notice, which said leader Mustafa Dzhemilev was barred on the basis of federal law, did not include a signature or letterhead

Published: Updated:

Crimea's Tatar community assembly accused Russia on Tuesday of banning one of its leaders from returning to the peninsula for five years.

The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People said that Mustafa Dzhemilev, a member of the Ukrainian government and former chairman of the Mejlis, was handed a notice while traveling back to mainland Ukraine after a weekend in Crimea.

The notice reportedly carried a photograph of a typed sheet of paper that was titled, “Notification of non-permission of entry to the Russian federation.”

The paper, which said Dzhemilev was barred on the basis of federal law, did not include a signature or letterhead.

Russia's Federal Migration Service declined comment. No immediate comment was available from the Foreign Ministry.

The Mejlis did not announce who gave the Tatar leader the notice. Russia has not yet established a comprehensive border for the recently annexed peninsula of Crimea. Ukraine, with international backing, still regards the area part of its territory.

After the overthrow of Ukraine’s Kremlin-backed president in Kiev, local pre-Russian separatists have been monitoring the border between the peninsula and mainland.

The Mejlis statement quoted Dzhemilev as saying the situation reflected “an indication of what kind of ‘civilized’ state we are dealing with.” Last month, he told Putin that annexing Crimea would go against international law.

The assembly also added that the current deputy chairman Aslan Omer Kyrymly was also given a similar banning notice.

A Turkic-speaking, Muslim community, long present on the Black Sea, Tatars make up about 12 percent of Crimea's 2 million population. Deported to central Asia on suspicion of aiding Nazi German invaders, they began to return in the 1980s and in large numbers after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Mejlis was recognized by the Ukrainian state in the 1990s as a representative body for the Tatars.


(With Reuters)