Russia's President Vladimir Putin has the same plan for Crimean Tatars as the Soviet Union's former dictator Stalin did, when he wanted to expel them from the peninsula, Refat Chubarov, president of the Worldwide Congress of Crimean Tatars and a member of Ukraine's Supreme Rada, said in Vilnius on Monday.
Refat Chubarov
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

"The actions taken by the Russian empire in the last century are virtually identical to the ones taken by Putin's Russia today. It is the 21 st century now, and Putin does not dare to address the 'problem' of Crimean Tatars in a way that Stalin did – put more than 220,000 people on trains within a few days and take them away. He has not dared to do this yet. However, the Moscow goal is identical to the one pursued by Stalin – Crimea without Crimean Tatars," said Chubarov.

In his words, the current administration is using various forms of repressions against the Tatars residing in Crimea. Young Tatars are recruited to the army of invaders, homes of Tatars are searched under the disguise of counter-terrorism efforts, people are being arrested, and their local government body Mejlis has been banned.

"Free press and freedom of gathering is a phenomenon Crimean Tatars have forgotten about," Chubarov said at a conference at the Lithuanian parliament on Monday.

In his words, the fate of Crimean Tatars depends on how long the peninsula remains occupied.

Adas Jakubauskas, chairman of the Union of Tatar Communities of Lithuania, said the occupying power had achieved that various intimidations caused about a tenth, about 30,000 of Tatars, left Crimea.

"But we are saying to the Crimean Tatars – you have survived through a far worse time, you have survived deportations, deaths, so don't leave Crimea and stay. The situation and the occupation is temporary, it is yet another test," said Jakubauskas.

Russia occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

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