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Crimean Tatar leader says Russia is trying to divide his people

Monday, May 05, 2014 - 01:31

May 5 - Crimean Tatar leader angered by Russia's decision to block him from entering the Crimean peninsula says authorities are trying to divide his people. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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Mustafa Dzhemilev is considered the spiritual leader of Tatars. On Saturday he was blocked from entering the Crimean peninsula on suspicion he intends to destabilize the region. Russia promised to give Crimean Tatars leading positions in government. They had hoped to persuade them to take part in the annexation referendum which they largely boycotted saying it was unconstitutional. At a news conference in Kiev Dzhemilev says they will have problems finding recruits. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MUSTAFA DZHEMILEV, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY, FIRST HEAD OF MEJLIS OF THE CRIMEAN TATARS, SAYING: "They are actively recruiting Crimean Tatars right now. But it's not working. That's why the Russians are bringing in Tatars from Kazan - Kazan Tatars. As you know, the main Kazan Tatar is the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kazan Autonomy whose name is Temirgaliev. His father also holds some position. In any case it's difficult to recruit pro-Russian supporters among Crimean Tatars. Yet they are still trying to split us up." Tatar's once made up more than a third of Crimea's population. They were persecuted in the Soviet era and now account for about 12 percent of Crimea's population.

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Crimean Tatar leader says Russia is trying to divide his people

Monday, May 05, 2014 - 01:31

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