Peninsula of Fear: How Russia makes Crimean Tatars 'happy'
Opinion16:54 Sep. 15, 2016
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How Russia makes Crimean Tatars 'happy'

Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine's First Deputy Minister of Information Policy and a former Crimean resident, sits down with UT to talk about Russia's two-faced policy

The beginning of the week was supposed to be very special for Crimean Tatars living on the peninsula. On Monday they were to begin the celebrations of the Muslim holiday, Kurban Bayram. Usually, dozens of thousands of people would take part in these festivities.

However, after Russia occupied the territory, many locals have said they feel insecure and despondent, and the previously solemn day has turned into a simple reflex . Russian media, in turn, report that the holidays went as planned.

"Russian propaganda laboriously makes everything it can to show their own picture of Crimea, and they do the same with the Crimean Tatar holidays. They gather people at locations and make reportages and TV information (news) pieces, manipulating the information to show to the entire world that Crimean Tatars are happy", Emine Dzheppar says in an interview with UT.

She adds, the indigenous people feel, in fact, ‘canned' and deprived of their voice, because Russia's criminal law forbids criticism of the annexation which is seen by Moscow as a violation of the country's territorial integrity.

It was even worse for many Crimean Tatars reps, who had publicly condemned the annexation. Several Mejlis members, such as Ilmi Umerov, were imprisoned and even forced into a psychiatric ward for 'mental evaluation' all because of his views and thoughts.

"The level of fear is so high that people are afraid to discuss political issues even in their own kitchens at home", Ms Dzheppar, whose relatives still live in Crimea, says.

In another attempt to try to demonstrate who owns the peninsula, Russian politicians are campaigning in Crimea ahead of the Parliamentary elections, scheduled for September 18.

Dzheppar compares the upcoming elections with the so-called 2014 referendum, which was declared staged by Ukraine and not recognized by the absolute majority of the countries, despite Russia's allegations.

"I think that today we have a lot of kangaroo courts in Crimea, with kangaroo elections. We do not recognize these elections, and the whole world shouldn't either. Crimea is occupied, it's not recognized by hundreds of UN states. Whatever elections could happen in Crimea, it has no part in a democratic world", the Deputy Minister claims.

Watch the full interview on Ukraine Today.

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