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You're reading: Ukraine falters in Crimean Tatar relationship

The report lists the practical steps to improve the situation than can be taken by the national Ukrainian and local Crimean authorities, by other former Soviet states (particularly in Central Asia, where at least 50,000 Crimean Tatars still live), by the international community, and by the FDPs themselves. The report makes uncomfortable reading for the Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine was of course not responsible for the 1944 Deportation (Lavrentiy Beria’s NKVD, the Soviet secret police, organized the operation); but its record as host state since 1991 has been mixed.

Even the number of FDPs is disputed. We still await the successor to the 2001 all-Ukrainian census, but our Report accepts a number of 266,000 Crimean Tatars and 4,900 other FDPs (Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans and Greeks). Numbers have increased, albeit not at the rate expected during the early 1990s because of legal and economic difficulties. The FDPs’ share of the population, however, has risen more rapidly, to 13.8 percent, because the overall population of Crimea has shrunk to under two million. Higher birth-rates mean that the Crimean Tatar population is still expanding at +0.9 percent per annum, while the overall population of Crimea is declining by 0.4 percent. 

Crimean Tatars already make up 20 percent of the school population. However, only 3 percent of children are taught in the Crimean Tatar language (though twice as many take it as an elective). After half a century in Central Asia, most Crimean Tatars are highly Russified; UNESCO categorizes Crimean Tatar as an ‘endangered language;’ Crimean Tatar media is under-developed, and the infrastructure of cultural heritage is badly neglected. Place names were changed overnight in 1944 and have not been changed back. Attacks on Crimean Tatar mosques and cemeteries are frequent. The Kebir Cami Mosque in Simferopol has been returned to active use; the building of the future Central Mosque on Yaltinskaya Street has been endlessly delayed.

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