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'Disappearances' under Russian rule in Crimea

Crimean Tatar leader says at least 22 have gone missing since Russian takeover

Can Erözden   | 07.04.2016
'Disappearances' under Russian rule in Crimea

Ankara

KIEV, Ukraine

At least 22 people have gone missing in Crimea since Russia annexed the Ukrainian territory two years ago, the leader of the peninsula’s Tatar people said Wednesday.

Mustafa Dzhemilev, a Ukrainian lawmaker and the former chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, told foreign journalists that the disappearances were part of Moscow’s attempt to pressure Tatars.

Referring to the 22, mostly Tatar, missing, Dzhemilev said Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the FSB, often used the threat of disappearance to intimidate opponents.

“Maybe this figure is higher than we know,” Dzhemilev said. “Law enforcers often use the threat of making people ‘missing’. During their interrogation, the FSB asks people - if they are not co-operating - 'Aren’t you afraid of you or your children going missing?’.”

Dzhemilev said the FSB had raided nearly 200 homes, schools and mosques belonging to Tatars since Russia took over Crimea in March 2014.

He insisted on greater international support for Crimea and Ukraine, criticizing countries for not speaking out against Russian aggression.

“What annoys us is why many states abstained by not participating in the vote,” he said, referring to the UN resolution vote on the annexation of Crimea two years ago. “A country invades and occupies another one and annexes it in the 21st century just like in the Middle Ages. This does not concern and worry them.”

The Russian takeover of the Crimea has been widely condemned. Last year, a Turkish delegation detailed grave human rights violations against Crimean Tatars since the annexation.

Tatars make up around 13 percent of Crimea’s 2.1 million people. They were deported en masse to Central Asia in 1944 before returning in the late 1980s as the Soviet Union began to collapse.

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