Crimea is bound up with the fate of the Crimean Tatars.
The Crimean Tatars are the native inhabitants of Crimea. They had their own state, the Crimean Khanate, for more than 300 years from the middle of the 15th to the end of the 18th centuries. Catherine the Great then annexed Crimea to the Russian empire but the Tatars kept their culture, language and religion – Sunni Islam.
In 1944, Stalin ordered that all 191,000 of them, all 47,000 families, be exiled to Central Asia. In 1954, Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, but in March 2014 Putin returned Crimea to Russia.
They are now some 300,000 and make up around 13% of Crimea’s population. The Crimean Tatar community did not support union with Russia as they boycotted the referendum in March on joining Russia.
Mosques, schools, community centers, firms and private homes belonging to Tatars have been searched…
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