: Telegraph: Crimea Tatars endure second tragedy under Russian rule

11:03 Jul. 7, 2016

Telegraph: Crimea Tatars endure second tragedy under Russian rule

A Crimean Tatar man holds the Tatar flag at a protest against the country's breakup outside Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Images)

'There are kidnappings and murders,' Dzhemilev says

The knock on the door came at 7.30am and the brutal interrogation lasted for almost eight hours. After being taken from his home in Crimea to a police station, Weldar Shukurdiyev was threatened and assaulted.

"Two men were beating me," he remembered. "There were constant threats: they said they would make me eat the Ukrainian flag. Every five minutes somebody would enter and shout more insults."

Mr Shukurdiyev is a Crimean Tatar, one of the original inhabitants of the Black Sea peninsula. Two years after Russia seized their historic homeland from Ukraine, the Tatars are now the target of an escalating campaign of repression mounted by their new overlords.

Read also OSCE slams Russia's violations of human rights in Crimea

The suspicion of them is based on a painful truth: no-one has a more viscerally powerful reason to oppose the return of Russian rule over Crimea than the Tatars. Like most of his brethren, Mr Shukurdiyev was born not in Crimea, but in what was then the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan.

His father was among 210,000 Tatars deported from Crimea in the penultimate year of the Second World War. In the space of three days from 18 May 1944, every last Tatar – man, woman and child – was rounded up in towns and villages across Crimea and herded onto sealed trains, which transported them for 2,000 miles to the barren steppe of Uzbekistan.

This mass expulsion, amounting to Stalin's vengeance for the Tatars' alleged collaboration with Nazi invaders, was commemorated in the unlikely setting of the Eurovision song contest in Stockholm in May. Jamala, a Ukrainian performer of Tatar origin, won the prize with "1944", a song about her ancestors' tragedy.

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