Crimean Tatars support Russia’s war against Ukraine, which the Kremlin has dubbed “a special military operation”, reads a false narrative disseminated by Russian state media. In fact, Tatars have opposed Russian aggression ever since 2014, when Moscow occupied and captured Crimea.
NEWS: “Crimean Tatars have expressed their full support for the foreign policy decisions of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which are designed to protect the sovereignty and ensure the security of Russia and its citizens, the Assembly of municipal deputies and representatives of civil society has announced. The city of Simferopol on Saturday hosted the National Assembly of Crimean Tatars. Over 300 representatives of Tatars from Crimea attended the event.
“[…] We are willing to volunteer for the special operation in Ukraine. We believe in our leader, we believe in victory. We are grateful for clear and peaceful skies”, the release also reads.
Participants in the National Assembly named Russia a leader-state, with a great economic and defensive potential, led by a powerful and determined commander-in-chief”.
NARRATIVE: Crimean Tatars support Russia’s military actions on the territory of Ukraine.
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: In fact, Crimean Tatars have repeatedly criticized the aggressive politics of the Russian Federation, condemning the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Due to public unrest and protests, Crimean Tatars face political persecution, are imprisoned, while numerous cultural associations were shut down.
The Mejlis is the representative body of Crimean Tatars, which has the same prerogatives as any Parliament. After Crimea was occupied by Russia, the leaders of this national council started being persecuted, while the Mejlis chairman, Refat Chubarov, was banned from entering the peninsula.
The false propaganda launched by Kremlin-linked media was criticized by Refat Chubarov on his Facebook page. He said Russian authorities have forcefully rounded up students of the Crimean Engineering Pedagogical University and employees from the public education system and forced them to vote a decision drafted by Moscow.
“The sole reason why the Russian FSB organized this event was to mimic support from the Crimean Tatars for Putin’s policies and the special operation against Ukraine. By means of these actions, the Russian secret service is again trying, without any success, to deceive the world, and to prove Tatars are allegedly loyal to the policy of the occupying state and president Putin”, Chubarov said.
The leader of Crimean Tatars said Russia continues to persecute the members of the community he represents, substituting them through artificial gatherings and made-up leaders.
On April 17, another leader of the Crimean Tatars, Emil Ziadinov, was sentenced to 17 years in prison in an investigation where he stands accused of staging terrorist attacks on the territory of the peninsula. The Mejlis says this was a fabricated investigation. Ukraine has on more than one occasion raised the issue of human rights violations in the occupied peninsula at the level of the UN.
Also worth noting is that Russia launched this propaganda narrative after the Mejlis requested the restitution of Crimea at the end of March, saying this was “a mandatory prerequisite” for peace negotiations with Russia.
“The Tatar Mejlis believes restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine in accordance to its internationally recognized borders, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, must be a mandatory prerequisite with a view to organizing official negotiations between Ukrainian representatives and the Russian Federation, the aggressor state”, the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars announced.
Starting 2014, Tatars as well as other ethnic minorities in Crimea were forcefully enrolled in the Russian army. Veridica has already written about notifications submitted to the International Criminal Court, also signed by the Crimean NGO Human Rights Group. They contain evidence of the involvement of Russian state officials and its administration in the organization and unfolding of illegal conscription campaigns in the peninsula. The Russian authorities actually opened 14 criminal investigations in Crimea targeting civilians who evaded forceful drafting.