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Ukraine commemorates Soviet deportation of Crimean Tatars

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A woman waves a Crimean Tatar flag as she attends a rally to mark 72 years since Crimean Tatar deportation from Crimea on the order of the Soviet authorities on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv on May 18.

Hundreds came to Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv to commemorate the day when all the Crimean Tatars were deported from Crimea on the order of the Soviet authorities in 1944.

The Soviet authorities’ official reason for the deportation was the Crimean Tatars’ cooperation with the Nazi occupants during the World War II. That accusation stood even though thousands of Crimean Tatars served in the Red Army.

Over 180,000 Crimean Tatars were forcefully deported from the peninsula in less than two days. The deportation was unexpected: the Crimean Tatar families were given up to half an hour to pack their belongings before they had to go.

From Crimea, they were sent to live in Central Asia. They were allowed to return to their native region only in 1989.

This year’s commemoration of the deportation is special: Just days before it, on May 14, Crimean Tatar singer Jamala won the Eurovision Song Contest with a song about the Crimean Tatars deportation while representing Ukraine. The song was called “1944,” by the year of the deportation.

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