Virtual museum of Russian aggression.

Virtual museum of Russian aggression.



History of the struggle

Ever since the establishment of the Mejlis, the post-communist authorities and pro-Russian political forces in Crimea have been regularly accusing it of "extremism" and "incitement of ethnic hatred".


Even the Crimean regional and (later) republican press was filled with propaganda directed against the Crimean Tatars in general and against the Mejlis in particular. One could often hear that the Mejlis did not represent the entire Crimean Tatar People, but was rather “speculating” on the issue of their return to Crimea. All activities of Crimean Tatar activists and the Mejlis aimed at restoring the rights of the people in Crimea were branded as "extremism" - be it the fight against sabotaging of the repatriation process or the fight for land or cultural rights.


In addition, the Crimean post-communist authorities have been seeking to garner the support of loyal Crimean Tatar organizations, individual figures and organizations of other peoples in order to demonstrate that the demands of the Mejlis do not represent the interests of the entire people and are nothing but a struggle for privileges in Crimea that would infringe on the rights of other peoples.


The Mejlis in Crimea has traditionally cooperated with the national and patriotic Ukrainian forces. During any elections in Crimea, the Mejlis would consistently support pro-Ukrainian forces or those who were less harmful to the interests of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Therefore, the Mejlis and the pro-Russian forces in Crimea were in constant confrontation.


Since the mid-1990s, representatives of the Crimean Tatars have been finding their way to the power structures on the peninsula. For example, Ilmi Umerov, deputy chairman of the Mejlis, was deputy prime minister in the government of Crimea from 1994 to 1997, and deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC from 2002 to 2005. In the 2000s, representatives of the Mejlis were quite a presence in the power structures of the ARC, as well as in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. In the executive branch, the number of representatives of the Mejlis would reach 10%.

Attacks and accusations of extremism

In 2014, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People supported the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv. Persecution of the Crimean Tatar activists who supported the protests began around the same time.

It was the Mejlis that gathered many thousands to a rally on 02/26/2014 by the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC, which, albeit for a short time, thwarted the plan to seize the power on the peninsula. The Mejlis and some of its representatives publicly called for a boycott of the so-called referendum and rejected its results.

After the seizure of Crimea by the Russian troops, the occupation authorities tried to negotiate with the leaders of the Mejlis a possible non-resistance to the occupation. The negotiations failed.

On 04/21/2014, a group of unidentified men dressed in military fatigues broke into the Mejlis building in Simferopol to tear down the Ukrainian and the Crimean Tatar flags. As a result of the attack, several people inside the building sustained injuries. The persecution did not end there.

On 09/16/2014, the Mejlis building was surrounded by armed Russian police officers, and a search began inside, which went on for 12 hours. Parallel searches were going on in the homes of Eskender Bariev and Mustafa Asab, members of the Mejlis.

Premises of the head office of the Mejlis were attached on 09/17/2014 by decision of the so-called "Central District Court of Simferopol", and the entire building was illegally seized on 03/07/2016.

On 05/06/2014 and 07/05/2014, the so-called prosecutor of Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, issued several warnings to representatives of the Mejlis, demanding to desist from “extremist activities”. Also on 07/05/2014, Refat Chubarov was banned from entering Crimea for 5 years.

The ban

After the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the ban of the Mejlis was only a matter of time. The invaders would never have tolerated the activities of a powerful coordination center of the Crimean Tatar people, which openly opposed the Russian aggression.


Like the entire process of the occupation of the peninsula, the process of banning the Mejlis was supposed to appear a "democratic procedure". To this end, the occupation authorities of Crimea had to demonstrate that the Mejlis did not represent the interests of the Crimean Tatars and that the initiative to ban it allegedly came from the Crimean Tatars themselves. For this, they needed Crimean Tatar organizations that were loyal to the invaders. Such as, for example, Qirim, an organization that "forbade" the Mejlis to represent the Crimean Tatar People on 12/19/2015.


On 10/23/2015, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation petitioned the General Prosecutor's Office to check the activities of the Mejlis for extremism.

On 02/15/2016, Natalia Poklonskaya was already addressing the so-called "Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea", demanding to qualify the Mejlis as an "extremist organization". She also gave a copy of the statement of claim to Ayder Adzhimambetov, the first deputy chairman of the Mejlis.


On 04/13/2016, Natalia Poklonskaya issued a resolution to suspend the activities of the Mejlis until the so-called "court" rules on the case. On 04/26/2016, the so-called Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea qualified the Mejlis as an extremist organization.


On 09/29/2016, the Supreme Court of Russia rejected the appeal of the representatives of the Mejlis and upheld the preliminary decision of the so-called Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was illegally and conclusively banned on the territory of Russia and in Crimea.


On every stage of the Mejlis banning process, Natalia Poklonskaya kept referring to "numerous requests", ostensibly submitted by Crimean Tatars and leaders of the Crimean Tatar organizations.


By way of trumped-up political accusations, the occupation authorities would ban the activities of the Mejlis and effectively squeeze its leaders out of the territory of Crimea. The Crimean Tatar People would be deprived not only of a coordination center, but also of leaders capable of organizing the concerned public.


The ban of the Mejlis would be accompanied by formally unrelated processes, such as criminal cases against members and leaders of the Mejlis.

Refat Chubarov and Mustafa Dzhemilev have been banned from entering Crimea since 2014. The occupation authorities opened criminal cases against both leaders of the Crimean Tatar People.

On 05/29/2015, a criminal case was initiated against Refat Chubarov for public calls to violate the territorial integrity of Russia for his vocal public stance on the Ukrainian affiliation of Crimea. On 01/20/2016, the so-called "Kyivsky District Court of Simferopol" arrested Mustafa Dzhemilev in absentia on charges of "terrorism" and "undermining the foundations of statehood of Russia".

On 01/29/2015, Ahtem Chiygoz, deputy chairman of the Mejlis, was arrested. The occupation authorities charged him with organization of mass riots by way of participation in the rally on 02/26/2014 and sentenced him to 8 years in prison.

On 05/12/2016, the Russian FSB in Crimea arrested Ilmi Umerov, deputy chairman of the Mejlis. He was charged with public calls to change the territorial composition of the Russian Federation. Later, Ilmi Umerov was subjected to a compulsory psychiatric examination. He spent about three weeks in a psychiatric hospital. On 09/27/2017, the so-called Simferopol District Court sentenced him to 2 years in a penal colony. And in 2017, with the mediation of Turkey, he and Ahtem Chiygoz were released.



On 03/29/2017, the Mejlis filed a claim with the ECHR.


Under the procedural management of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea a pre-trial investigation is underway in criminal proceedings on the facts of illegal persecution of the representatives of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and the illegal ban on its activity as constituting the criminal offenses under Part 1 of Article 438, Part 1 of Article 353 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).


During the pre-trial investigation on 10/10/2018, the prosecutor's office of the autonomy indicted Natalia Poklonskaya on committing a criminal offense under Part 1 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Violation of the laws and customs of war).



Accusations of extremism and banning of the Mejlis fit the established pattern of methods and propaganda narratives of the Crimean post-communist authorities, pro-Russian politicians of the 1990s, as well as the policies of the Soviet totalitarian regime in relation to the Crimean Tatars. The extremist and aggressive occupant accused its victim of extremism and presented itself as a champion of "democracy" and "inter-ethnic peace".

Published on 2021-09-01

Maksym Sviezhentsev



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