: Crimean Tatar Battalion raises its flag above checkpoint with Russia-occupied peninsula

14:06 Jun. 19, 2016

Crimean Tatar Battalion raises its flag above checkpoint with Russia-occupied peninsula

Photo courtesy - Lenur Islyamov, Facebook

In December 2015, Lenur Islyamov announced creation of Crimean Tatar volunteer battalion 

The Crimean Tatar Battalion named after Noman Celebicihan* has hoisted its flag above the Chongar checkpoint - one of Ukraine's main two land borders with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

This was reported by Crimea blockade main coordinator and Vice-President of Crimean Tatar World Congress Lenur Islyamov on Facebook.

"It is a historical moment for our battalion - we have raised our own flag along with Ukraine's and Crimean Tatar national flags. It took our team a few months to develop and create it", Islyamov reported

In December 2015, Lenur Islyamov announced the creation of the Crimean Tatar Battalion, which will be part of Ukraine's Armed Forced. 

On June 7, Ukraine's Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov said he did not support the initiative of setting up the Crimean Tatar battalion.

"I met with Crimean Tatar leaders and Ukrainian MPs Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov. We discussed how to use those Crimean Tatar patriots, who stay on Ukraine's mainland territory. We came to a conclusion that this is Ukraine after all, and there should be neither Armenian nor Georgian nor a separate Crimean Tatar battalion. It should be the Ukrainian army special forces where Crimean Tatars, Armenians, and many others can serve... I favour a different approach, I know most of these activists. We cooperate with them," Avakov said.

Read also Crimean Tatars want their own autonomy within Ukraine

He said that a large number of Crimean Tatar representatives hold senior positions and serve in Ukraine's National Police.

"In my opinion, a Crimean Tatar, like any other citizen of Ukraine, should serve in a regular division of the Ukrainian army, the National Guard, the National Police," said the Minister.

On December 20, 2015 Lenur Islyamov announced the creation of the Crimean Tatar volunteer battalion named after Noman Celebicihan, which will comprise 560 activists. In April 2016 Chubarov reported on developing the concept of battalion activists which was presented to Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

*Noman Celebicihan (Numan Çelebi Cihan) (1885–1918) was a Crimean Tatar politician, lawyer, Mufti of Crimean Muslims, and writer. He was the first President of the short-lived independent Crimean People's Republic, established on November 26 (December 9 under the Gregorian calendar), 1917. He is known for having written the poem "Ant etkenmen" ("I've pledged"), which became the Crimean Tatar national anthem. His early death at the hands of Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War is still commemorated in the Crimean Tatar nation.

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