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Tatars fear for the future in Crimea

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 01:51

March 11 - Tatars in Ukraine defy Russian actions in Сrimea, worry about their future. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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The call to prayer in Crimea. Here in this Tatar enclave memories run deep. They were nearly wiped out on Moscow's orders, first by the czars and then by the Soviets. With bitter memories of their treatment by Russia, this Muslim community has long prided itself on loyalty to Ukraine With Russia moving in on Crimea -- they are worried. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD OF TATAR AUTHORITY BODY IN BAKHCHISARAY, CHIIGOZ AKHTEM, SAYING: "We have serious concerns, given the experience of similar operations conducted by Russia before. They are always marred with ethnic cleansing. So we are have let the international community know that we have great concerns of similar methods being repeated. We feel it very strongly, this internal tension. But I think with the help of Allah we will survive this as well." It is clear that none of the Tatars here plan to vote for annexation to Russia at the March 16 referendum. Tatars make up about 12 percent of Crimeas population. Leaders say they will boycott the vote. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) REFAT CHUBAROV CRIMEAN TATAR LEADER SAYING: "If we follow the Moscow plan, it would mean that the whole world has become powerless in the face of injustice and the power of arms. That the whole international rights order has fallen. That the power of international decrees, multi-sided agreements, memoranda, declarations, the power of the dual agreement between Russian and Ukraine - that all that has collapsed instantaneously." Moscow has promised safety to all ethnic minorities in the peninsula. But Tartars are taking few chances -- setting up night watches hoping that history won't repeat itself.

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Tatars fear for the future in Crimea

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 01:51