Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Benevolent Putin rehabilitates Crimean Tatars

Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev

The 250,000 Muslim Tatars in the recently annexed Russian Crimea can sleep soundly at night.

Certainly after Russian troops arrived in February their homes were marked, and they were told to be prepared to move to different areas they were a bit queasy.

But now Russian President Putin has rehabilitated them.

They weren’t included in a 1991 general rehabilitation for all citizens of the Soviet Union.

The Tatars, now accepted by official edict, must have felt like the man who was ridden out of town on a rail for displeasing the community. Abraham Lincoln said the unnamed man was asked how that felt. “If it was not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk."

Russian Television said: “Since gradually returning to the peninsula following their banishment, many have been locked in land disputes, and have struggled with a lack of political representation.”

Although Russia and its media spend much time comparing opponents in the Ukraine to Nazis what happened to the Tatars under Stalin sounds like something Hitler would have done.

Again quoting Russian TV: “A week after the Soviet Army recaptured the peninsula - on May 18, 1944 - those living in Tatar households were woken up by NKVD agents with prepared deportation lists, and according to eyewitness reports, forced to pack their possessions in less than an hour.

“Under armed supervision, Tatars of all ages were escorted to cattle trains – used for most mass transport during the Stalin era - and ordered to board them. The trains were headed to the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan more than 1,800 miles away and other hinterlands.”

The latest Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin suspected the Tatars of disloyalty, but of course he suspected everyone.

The Tatars may even able to gamble in the casinos Putin plans to build in the Crimea, the BBC said.

Crimean Tatars traditional leader, meanwhile, was handed an order barring him from entering Russia because he was considered a threat to public order, he said in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal.

"If in recent time, diplomats and representatives of international organizations have been denied entry into the territory of Crimea and then they hand out this 'decision,' it is nothing more than a sign of how 'civilized' a state we are dealing with," the statement Dzhemilev as saying.

He also was barred from reentering the Crimea after visiting Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the joy of becoming part of Russia is tempered by the fact that many businesses, stores and offices are closed, suddenly cell phones are an hour behind as they are set for Ukrainian time.

Hotels at this time of year usually taken by tourists with foreign exchange are full of Russian bureaucrats.

"Nonsense!” Yelena Yurchenko, the minister for tourism and resorts, told the New York Times, Yurchenko, daughter of a Russian admiral who retired in Crimea, said the problems “lazy people who do not want to make progress.”

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