31.3 The position of Crimean Tatars in Crimea

No 31 : 17 May 1974

In 1956 the punitive surveillance regime was lifted from the Crimean Tatars. The decree of 5 September 1967, “On citizens of Tatar nationality who used to reside in the Crimea”, lifted the restrictions on their choice of a place of residence (and at the same time, by its title, abolished them as a nation). After the decree, as stated in the “Appeal to the 24th Congress of the Communist Party” (this issue CCE 31.12), thousands of families went to the Crimea but only hundreds were able to stay.

According to another document of the national movement “Irrefutable Facts from the Life of the Crimean Tatars in the Period 1967-1973” (henceforth, for brevity, called “Irrefutable Facts”), in 1968-1969 about 900 families settled in the Crimea, of which roughly 250 came through an official labour recruitment campaign which ceased (for the Crimean Tatars) towards the end of 1969.

About another 600 families, who had come independently, managed to register their residence, some of them after undergoing one or more deportations. In 1967-1969 the family of Fevzi Poska was expelled from the Crimea five times and the family of Asan Chobanov (nine persons) – twice.

The Crimean Tatar who tries to return to his homeland is met with a blank wall of “form-filling”: for his residence permit, his work and his contract for house purchase. How this system works is evident from the personal statements included in the current issue (this issue, CCE 31.4-8). In “Irrefutable Facts” 53 families are named (almost all in villages), who have not been able to acquire residence permits and work, some ever since 1968. More persistent, especially collective efforts to breach this wall are met with repression on the part of the authorities. According to the document “The All-Nation Demand” (CCE 31.20), since 1968 32 deportations under armed escort have been carried out in the Crimea, involving about 6,000 people, and also a series of trials, in particular “for evading residence registration”.

[DEPORTATIONS]

The mass deportations of May-June 1968, which were accompanied by arrests and bodily assaults, were reported in CCE 7. One such deportation is also described in the statement of Mamedi Chobanov which appears in the current issue (this issue, CCE 31.6).

On 12 July 1968 12 families were deported to Tashkent from the “Bolshevik” State Farm (CCE 5). The family of Fevzi Seidalliyev went from there to Moscow to address complaints to the Party’s Central Committee and the Supreme Soviet. In Moscow, KGB officials arrested Seidalliyev, and the other members of his family were sent back to Central Asia. Subsequently it was reported to the family from Dnepropetrovsk Prison that Seidalliyev had died. The circumstances of his death remain unknown.

In “Irrefutable Facts” there is also a report of the deportation on 30 November 1972 from the village of Beshterek (now the hamlets Donskoye and Spokoinoye) of three families living in houses which they had bought, but the purchase of which had not been registered: Dzhemil Kurtseitov with his wife and two children, Esmer Mezinov with his wife and three children, and Fatime Gubanova with her four children (her husband E.P. Gubanov was in prison).

This action provoked a letter of protest (with 585 signatures) to the first secretary of the Crimean Regional committee of the Party, Kirichenko, entitled “A Constitution Day Surprise for the Crimean Tatars”. It is also described in the letter of U. Kurtseitova (this issue, CCE 31.7).

A detachment of 52 men carried out the deportation: militia, volunteer police and bailiffs. The letter of protest says that, despite the indignation and entreaties of the inhabitants of the village, “the keepers of the peace continued to fling children, women and belongings into cars”. Even the pregnant Kurtseitova, and Gubanova, who was in bed with blood pressure of 280, were subjected to brutal treatment. The latter was given an injection and dragged into a bus. Towards midnight the evicted were brought to the //station Partisan (Kherson Region), the inhabitants of which sheltered them, and after assembling the next morning in the square, expressed their indignation at the actions of the authorities. Thanks to this, as Kurtseitova reports, on the following day they were all returned home. A representative of the Regional Party committee, Shabalov, acknowledged the illegality of the action (“it was done by illiterates”) and proposed that they should again “apply for the registration of the houses”. However, as the fate of Kurtseitova shows, the persecutions did not end with this.

TRIAL PROCEEDINGS

(from the document “Irrefutable Facts”)

In 1968, not only M. Chobanov, but also F. Izmailov (6 months) and M. Yusupov were convicted. In April 1969 Gomer Bayev was sentenced to 2 years under Article 190-1 (see CCE 7), in July Eldar Shabanov was given 2 years of banishment from the Crimea under Article 196 of the Ukrainian criminal code for evading residence registration (this issue, 31.4) and Dzhafar Asanov (Article 196).

In 1972, on 18 April, Usein Asanov (Article 196) was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment; on 20 August Mambet Din Ogly to one year (he earlier served a year and a half), and in September, Ismail Akhmetov. The last two trials were carried out secretly, without the relatives knowing, in a police building. On 5 October E. P. Gubanov, a Russian married to a Crimean Tatar, was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, and on 9 October Akhmet Tokhlu was sentenced (Article 196, 2 years of banishment from the Crimea, see below, CCE 31.5).

The trial of Dzhemil Kurtseitov, Eivaz Mustafayev and Ridvan Charukhov, charged with rowdy assault, is described by Kurtseitov’s wife (this issue, CCE 31.7).

[ANTI-TATAR PROPAGANDA]

“Irrefutable Facts”, like other statements by the Crimean Tatars, reports on anti-Tatar propaganda in the Crimea. In particular, such facts as the following are listed.

In the book Stars of Unfading Glory (Krymizdat, 1967) all the Heroes of the Soviet Union from the Crimea are named except for the Heroes who were Crimean Tatars.

An exception is made only for Sultan Akhmetan, twice a Hero. It is known, however, that all the efforts to open a memorial museum in his former house in Alupka (this issue, CCE 31.15) have proved to be in vain.

In July 1972 in Simferopol four Crimean Tatars were convicted who had participated in the atrocities of the occupiers. At the trial, despite the official exculpation of the nation, the State prosecutor Modlenko spoke about the mass treason of the Crimean Tatars and threatened: “Let the traitors remember: they have no Motherland, and let their children remember.” This propaganda was effective: the director of a furniture enterprise in Simferopol, Safronov, refused the worker Server Zeidlayev a place in a hostel with the words: “Your people threw children down wells.”

//If reports that the position of Crimean Tatars who have moved from their places of exile to the Southern Ukraine (mainly to the Kherson Region), is analogous to the position of their compatriots in the Crimea; for example, 13 families are named who are illegally being refused residence registration and work.