31.13 Statement on the Crimean question (1971)

No 31 : 17 May 1974

Statement of the Crimean Tatar people on the Crimean question in connection with the 24th Party Congress (1971, 9 pages).

The present-day national movement goes back to the struggle of the Crimean Tatars against tsarist colonialist policies. “Blessed will be the minute”, – the statement quotes Russky Vestnik [the “Russian Herald” periodical] for December 1860 – “when the Crimea parts company with the native Tatars and is settled by a more approved species!” “This belch of chauvinism was to resound as a triumphant battle-cry 84 years later.”

Figures are listed on the participation of Crimean Tatars in the Fatherland War and in the partisan movement in the Crimea, with Mokrousov and Martynov in charge, fabricated evidence of betrayal of the Motherland and produced some through provocations, and that this was a treacherous blow to the partisan movement and the population of partisan villages. The action of 18 May caught the people unawares, although preparations for a deportation had become know. The majority of the men were at the front and the rest were mobilized into a labour-army (in reality – exiled to labour camps). The deportation of the Crimean Tatars was also planned by the Germans: a speech is quoted by a Soviet prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and also the book by V. Krai Crime against Europe (Prosveshchenie Publishing House, 1968).

Besides the charge of treason, older history too is falsified to justify the deportation of the Crimean Tatars; here the statement quotes Essays on the History of the Crimea, edited by A. Nadinsky:

“The Crimea can in no way be ranked as a colony, for the Crimean land was from ancient times Russian land and the annexation of the Crimea to Russia was not the seizure of foreign land.”

The statement talks about the destruction of books, monuments and cemeteries, and about changes of name.

“The village Buyuk-Ozenbash (more than 1,000 homesteads) having been a base for the partisan movement, was razed to the ground by the fascist vandals. In 1945 the name ‘Happy Village’ was conferred on the smouldering ruins. Really, can greater happiness be imagined for a member of the chauvinist black-hundreds [pre-1917 extreme right-winger]?!” (Earlier examples have been listed of plans by Hitler’s ideologue Rosenberg to rename towns in the Crimea according to German forms.)

The statement sums up the national movement by formulating four “truths” which are clear to the supreme organs “which are holding our people in exile”.

The deportation of small peoples:

1)         “Was a calculated crime by enemies of socialism” …

2)         “trampled to shreds the guarantees of the revolution” …

3)         “was a convenient means of confiscating national property and personal belongings, and a way of destroying cultural monuments” …

4)         and “trampled on principles of international law and the Declaration of Human Rights, and is a very grave crime against humanity, of the sort which has no statute of limitation” …

“These truths”, says the statement, “are documented in the 160 volumes of material concerning our struggle” …

“In this way the national movement has created the conditions for the solution of the problem.” Three “non-negotiable” demands are put forward:

  1. a) an organized return to the homeland,
  2. b) settlement in a coordinated pattern which will guarantee the nation’s existence and sovereignty,
  3. c) the restoration of the Crimean ASSR.

The disorganized return which took place after the decree of 1967 has been meeting a hostile reception from the local authorities. Repeated deportations are being carried out by “brutal methods”. The statement also sharply criticizes resettlement under the organized labour recruitment scheme, which “has the aim of deceiving the people, giving it hope, and distracting it from …  a fundamental solution”.

The statement denies the existence of any objective impediments, e.g. legal or ideological, to the restoration of the pre-war status of the Crimea and warns of the inevitability of “retribution for the seizure of the native land, property and rights of a people”.

The statement with appendices (see this issue, 31.15) was signed by 55,000 people and handed in to the Party Central Committee.