VoA: Ukraine To Investigate Crimean Tatar Deportation

By Peter Fedynsky

Voice of America
May 18 2009

The State Security Service of Ukraine is establishing a special unit
to investigate Stalin-era crimes against Crimean Tatars, who are
commemorating the 65th anniversary of their mass deportation from
Crimea. The investigation will also look into the forced deportation
of other ethnic groups from the peninsula during World War II.

The head of the Ukrainian State Security Service, Valentyn
Nalyvaichenko, announced the creation of the special investigative
unit in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Nalyvaichenko said Ukrainian
President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the creation of the unit to
investigate crimes involving the repression and destruction of Crimean
Tatars under the Soviet Union.

Stalin-era deportation kills tens of thousands of Tatars, Soviets
deny charges

Deportation of as many as 200,000 Crimean Tatar men, women and children
began on May 18, 1944. They were accused of Nazi collaboration, placed
in train cattle cars and sent to Central Asia. Tens of thousands
perished along the way, and others died of malnutrition or disease
soon after arriving. In 1967, the Soviet government said the charges
were false.

The investigation will cover the deportation era and the years
that preceded it. The Ukrainian State Security Service has also
declassified Soviet documents related to the execution of Crimean Tatar
intelligentsia members. Nalyvaichenko says the forced deportation of
innocent Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans and others from Crimea will
also be investigated.

Mustafa Dzhemilev, Crimean Tatar leader Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa
Dzhemilev told VOA he welcomes the Ukrainian decision, but notes the
purpose of the investigation is not to capture or punish anyone.

Dzhemilev says those directly responsible for the deportation are no
longer alive. But he says it is important to see the full picture of
the crime, and for society to know it was in fact a crime, because
that will help in the overall recovery of society.

Leader says Crimean Tatars should have education in their native

Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to their homeland in the
late 1980s and about a quarter-million have done so. There are now
about 300,000 Tatars in Crimea, about 12 percent of the peninsula’s

But Mustafa Dzhemilev says no laws have been passed to reinstate the
social and legal rights of Crimean Tatars. He also warns the culture
and language of his people can disappear within decades if nothing
is done to revive education in the native language.

Tens of thousands participated in a rally Monday in Simferopol marking
the 65th anniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation.