Crimea's Muslim Tatars worry about Russia referendum
Friday, March 07, 2014 - 01:30
March 7 - As the situation in Ukraine's Crimea escalates, the region's ethnic Muslim minority Tatars worry about a referendum to join neighboring Russia. Mana Rabiee reports.
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In Ukraine's Crimea, Muslim Tatars, an ethnic minority, gather for Friday prayers.
Mosques like this are scattered around the Crimean peninsula, where ethnic Russians are the majority.
The Tatars are upset because Crimea's parliament has decided to hold a referendum to secede from Ukraine and join neighboring Russia.
Moscow wrested control of the peninsula last week and Tatars have a deep-seated hatred for Russia that dates to World War II.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) FATIME, SAYING:
"We are sure the results will be rigged. We will support our Tatar parliament and boycott that referendum."
SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DILYAVER, SAYING:
"I don't know, they may want to be in Russia but I want to be in Ukraine."
The Tatars support the new pro-Western government in the capital, Kiev.
On Friday, Crimean TV showed images of Tatars whose homes had been marked with an X.
Residents said it was done by men working from lists.
A move, they said, designed to provoke and to frighten.
SOUNDBITE (Russian) RESIDENT OF BAKHCHISARAY (NAME UNKNOWN) SAYING:
"They walked down the streets and everywhere where Crimean Tatars live they made those marks. On every home, every gate and every fence….They had lists with them."
The Tatars were deported by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis.
They were allowed back into their homeland in the 1980's and they continue to hold a fierce hatred for Russia to this day.
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