Crimean Tatars vote to seek autonomy

The Majilis of Crimean Tatars on March 29 voted to seek "a national autonomous territory." The assembly of 200 Tatar delegates in the Crimean Tatars' historic capital of Bakhchisaray voted in favor of the proposal put to them by assembly leader Refat Chubarov. "I ask you to approve…the start of political and legal procedures aimed at creating ethnic and territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatars of their historic territory of Crimea," Chubarov said. "In the life of every nation there comes a time when it must make decisions that will determine its future." The session was started with the anthem of Crimean Tatars, after which Crimean Muslim Mufti Haji Emirali Ablayev blessed the congress' work, saying: "Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland after years of deportation. Despite the fact that Crimea is having hard times today, we should not leave Crimea."  (DW, Interfax, March 29)

The Council of Muftis of Russia has meanwhile sent a delegation to Crimea to meet with local Tatars and to work out mechanisms on involving them in Russia's Muslim community. Co-chair of the council, Nafigulla Ashirov, said: "It is important to start the dialogue with Crimean Tatars. We're glad to know that Crimean Tatars have started receiving Russian passports. We'll continue to strengthen friendship with Crimean Tatars. We have a common faith and common roots. We're glad the process has started." (ITAR-TASS, March 28)