“My father was deported to Uzbekistan by Stalin’s soldiers in 1944, when he was eleven, and died when Putin’s soldiers invaded Crimea in March 2014”, recalls Refat Chubarov, in an interview with Luigi Spinola aired by Radio3Mondo on Italian public radio RadioRai3.
The leader of the Crimean Tatar National movement evokes the tragic fate of its people, evicted from its historical homeland during Soviet times, and its plight after Russian annexation. “We had difficult relations with the Ukrainian authorities, that showed little interest for the minorities’ situation, but we knew that we were slowly building a future together”, he explains. “Even in the worst of times, under Yanukovich’s rule, there was a freedom unknown to the Russian regime. Now we are the target of an escalating campaign of repression. They are trying to scare us to force us to flee the peninsula”
Chubarov accuses Moscow-backed militias to have kidnapped young Tatars. “Some of them have then been found dead”, he says. “The message to the families is clear: take your kids and go away”. According to Chubarov, the Tatars are targeted because it is the only community that has openly demonstrated against occupation when Russian troops entered Crimea.
Refat Chubarov himself and the Tatars ruling body he chaired have been banned from Crimea. Chubarov lives in Kiev and is a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament. He is confidant that he will be back home soon to visit his 83 year-old mother, “because sooner than the Kremlin expect it, Crimea will be free again”.
The report was first broadcasted on20 October 2016 on Radio3.rai.it and can be listened to in the Italian original here (starting min. 13’56”).
Interview with Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar People and Member of Ukrainian National Parliament.