Russia arrests members of Crimean minority group following protests

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23 August 2021, Ukraine, Kiev: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky holds a speech during the Crimea Summit. Photo: -/Ukrinform/dpa
23 August 2021, Ukraine, Kiev: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky holds a speech during the Crimea Summit. Photo: -/Ukrinform/dpa

More than 50 Crimean Tatars have been arrested following protests in the city of Simferopol against “illegal searches and arrests” by the Russian domestic intelligence service, the Ukrainian parliament’s commissioner for human rights said on Saturday night.

Some of them were brutally forced onto police buses, wrote Lyudmila Denisova on the Telegram messaging app.

Before that, five activists from the Muslim minority community had been arrested by Russian security forces, according to Denisova.

There has been no information available from the Russian side.

Denisova also called on the international community to put more pressure on Russia to end its repression of the minority population indigenous to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

The United Nations most recently accused Moscow of arbitrary arrests and raids against representatives of the Crimean Tatar community.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to Twitter to demand that all those arrested be released.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been in tatters, not least because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces that followed Crimea’s annexation.

Zelensky has proposed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the conflict. A spokesman for the Kremlin on Sunday agreed in principle to a meeting with Zelensky, however, unlike Ukraine, Russia said the Crimea issue was not up for discussion.

Crimean Tatars have been sceptical towards Russia for historical reasons, following the 1944 deportation to today’s Uzbekistan of about 200,000 Crimean Tatars accused of cooperating with the Germans.

Many Tatars boycotted the 2014 referendum on Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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