Grigorenko’s 1968 address to the Crimean Tatars

See “Survey of samizdat in 1968”
(Chronicle of Current Events, 31 December 1968, 5.1, item 11)

Let me express the views of Kostyorin and myself on the immediate problems of your movement.

It will soon be twenty-five years since your people were cast out of their homes, were expelled from the land of their forefathers, and were exiled onto reservations where such dreadful conditions reigned that the annihilation of the entire Crimean Tatar people appeared inevitable. But the hardy and hard-working Crimean Tatar people survived to spite their enemies.

After having lost forty-six percent of their numbers in the forced exile disaster, they began to gather strength and to enter into battle for their own national and human rights. This struggle led to certain successes: the status of exiled deportees was lifted and a political rehabilitation of the people was achieved. True, this rehabilitation was carried out quietly … which in significant degree rendered it valueless. The majority of the Soviet people, who previously had been widely informed that during the war the Crimean Tatars had sold the Crimea [to the enemy], never did learn that this “sale” was transparent fabrication. Worst of all, the decree on political rehabilitation… legalized the liquidation of the Crimean Tatar nationality. Now, it appears, there are no Crimean Tatars, there are just Tatars who formerly lived in Crimea.

This fact alone serves as the most convincing proof that your struggle not only did not achieve its goal but has led to a backward movement. You were subjected to repressions as Crimean Tatars, but now, after your “political rehabilitation”, there is no such nationality in the world.

A nationality has disappeared. But discrimination has remained. You did not commit the crimes for which you were expelled from the Crimea, but you are not permitted to return there now.

Why have your people been so discriminated against? Section 123 of the Soviet Constitution reads: “Any direct or indirect limitation on rights… of citizens because of their racial or national membership… is punishable by law.”

Thus the law is on your side. [Stormy applause]

But still your rights are being flouted. Why?

We believe that the main reason behind this is the fact that you underestimate your enemy. You think that you are dealing with honest people. But this is not so! What has been done to your people was not done by Stalin alone. And his accomplices are not only alive – but they occupy responsible positions. You are appealing to the leadership of the Party and the State with conciliatory written requests. But that which belongs to you by right should not be asked for but demanded. [Stormy applause and cries of agreement.]

So begin to demand. And demand not just parts, pieces, but all that was taken from you unlawfully – demand the reestablishment of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic! [Stormy applause and cries of “Hail the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic”.]

Don’t limit your actions to the writing of petitions. Fortify them with all of those means which the Constitution provides you – the freedom of speech and of the press, of meetings, assemblies, of street marches and demonstrations.
A newspaper is published for you in Moscow. But the people behind that newspaper do not support your movement. Take the newspaper away from them. Elect your own editorial board. And if people hinder you in doing this, boycott that newspaper and create another one – your own! A movement cannot develop normally without its own press.

And in your struggle do not shut yourselves in a narrow nationalist shell. Establish contacts with all the progressive people of other nationalities of the Soviet Union. Do not consider your cause to be solely an internal Soviet matter. Appeal for help to the world progressive public and to international organizations. What was done to you in 1944 has a name. It was genocide.

The agreement adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948, referred to genocide as follows: “…actions carried out with the intent of destroying fully or in part some national, ethnic, racial or religious group…” by various means and in particular by intentional establishment “for them of conditions of life which have as their purpose its complete or partial physical extermination” [of the group]. Such actions, that is, genocide, “from the point of view of international law are a crime which is to be condemned by the civilized world and for committing which the principal persons guilty and their accomplices are subject to punishment.” As you can see, international law is also on your side. [Stormy applause.]

And if you fail to solve this question inside the country you have the right to appeal to the U. N. and to the International Court.

Stop asking! Get back that which belongs to you by right but was unlawfully taken from you! [Stormy applause. People jumped up and cried: “The Crimean ASSR! The Crimean ASSR!]

And remember: In this just and noble struggle you must not allow the enemy to seize with impunity the warriors who are marching in the first ranks of your movement.

In Central Asia there has already been a whole series of trials at which fighters for the national equality of the Crimean Tatars have been illegally convicted of false charges. Right now in Tashkent a trial of the same stature is being prepared against Enver Mametov, Yuri and Sabri Osmanov, and others. Do not permit them to be judicially repressed. Demand that the trial be public in accordance with the law. Demand and get a public trial, go to it en masse, and do not permit the courtroom to be packed with a specially chosen audience. Courtroom representatives of the Crimean Tatar people must be seated in the courtroom.

To the brave and unbending fighters for national equality, to Alexei Kostyorin, to the successes of the Crimean Tatar people, and to a reunion in the Crimea, in the reestablished Crimean Autonomous Republic!

17 May 1968, Moscow

Source: The International Committee for Crimea