World Bulletin / News Desk
Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev has successfully entered his homeland after a brief scare at a checkpoint on Saturday.
The former head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, who is now a Ukrainian lawmaker based in Kiev, feared that he would not be allowed to enter Crimea after Russia produced a blacklist of individuals barred from the peninsula.
Ukrainian lawmakers who openly decried the annexation of Crimea by Russia were all blacklisted. Since Jemilev was among those lawmakers, it was feared that he too would be denied access.
However, after he was briefly stopped for 40 minutes at an entry checkpoint while the authorities checked whether or not his name was on the list, Jemilev was finally granted access to his homeland.
As he entered Crimea accompanied by current Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov, dozens of Crimean Tatars greeted him unfurling sky-blue Crimean Tatar flags.
His arrival in Crimea marks his first visit to the peninsula since Russia produce the blacklist of 321 individuals on March 27.
On March 16, the majority ethnic Russian population of Crimea voted in a referendum to split from Ukraine and join Russia after the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich was forced to flee the country in late February following months of violent uprising against his rule by pro-EU protesters.
The annexation was completed in early April, much to the dislike of the 300,000 native Turkic-speaking Muslim Crimean Tatars, who were reduced to a minority in their homeland after they were forced into exile by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944.
The Crimean Tatars at large boycotted the referendum, deeming it illegal under Ukrainian and international law as it was held while Crimea was under the occupation of armed pro-Russian militiamen.
FEAR OF EXILE
Speaking to the Hromadske.tv internet channel, Jemilev claimed that most in the Russian Kremlin supported another exile of the Crimean Tatars and were creating conditions that would force Crimean Tatars to leave.
Ever since Russia annexed the peninsula, he said that Crimean Tatars were being provoked by ethnic Russians in the region, who have been marking their homes with signs.
'''When are you going to leave? They are going to exile you anyway. We want to move into your home,' they ask. The people who say this used to visit us as our good neighbors,'' Jemilev explained.
''The same situation exists in the schools. Crimean Tatar children have been attacked for speaking their own language,'' he said.
According to the Qirim News Agency, Jemilev also claimed that Crimean Tatars were being forced to accept Russian citizenship and those who refused were being fired from their jobs.Last Mod: 19 Nisan 2014, 16:23