Dzhemilev: Ukraine gave us freedom, we will not get used to Putin’s regime

The leader of the Crimean-Tatar people, member of the Ukrainian Parliament Mustafa Dzhemilev expressed his hope that the statement made by the new President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko regarding the return of Crimea to Ukraine becomes reality. However he assured that the Crimean Tatars would not resort to violence over their unwillingness to live on the peninsula annexed by Russia. Mustafa Dzhemilev also stated that currently the Crimean Tatars have lost their most important achievement under Russian occupation – freedom. 

In Prague Mustafa Dzhemilev, a Soviet prisoner of morale and dissident of many years, received the European Platform of Morale and Memory award. This is his second international award after receiving the “Solidarity” award in Warsaw in the presence of US President Barack Obama last week.

In an interview to Radio Svoboda Dzhemilev shared his worries that currently, when the east of Ukraine is burning, there is a threat of America and Europe “forgetting” about Crimea, saying that they have to calm Donbas down first!

“Yes, we have this worry and, by the way, several days ago in Warsaw, I had a meeting with Obama and I told him about these worries directly. For Crimea not to become an object of negotiation: for the Russians not to move further into continental Ukraine, they may “forget” about Crimea,” says Dzhemilev. “Obama assured me that this will not happen and before the last square metre of occupied land is not freed, the sanctions of the West will not stop.”

The leader of the Crimean Tatar nation stated that currently there are about ten thousand refugees from Crimea, the vast majority of which is constituted by Crimean Tatars which are temporarily inhabiting Western Ukraine. However the Mejlis leadership is calling for the Tatars not to leave Crimea and try to adapt to the temporary realities of the Russian occupation.

“We did not fight for our return to flee Crimea because of some Putin,” says Dzhemilev.

What did Ukraine give the Tatars?

Crimean Tatars hope that President Petro Poroshenko will create a special Ministry for Crimean affairs, and Dzhemilev already discussed this with the new Ukrainian leader after the inauguration.

He said that the Tatars may feel some dissatisfaction with the fact that Ukraine could have done more for them in the 23 years of independence, but he understands that the economical situation in Ukraine was complicated, and the government in Kyiv did not include national-democrats whom the Crimean Tatars voted for in every elections.

However Ukraine has given the most important thing to the Tatars – freedom, which Putin’s Russia has now taken away from them.

“Whatever happened there, we lived in a free country after all, and freedom cannot be exchanged for any material goods. All the talk that we, Russia, will do more – we did not put our Motherland up for sale. We have made our choice: we see our future as a national-territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian state – period!” Says the politician.

His wife in Crimea is asking for freedom

As to the time it will take to return Crimea back to Ukraine, Mustafa Dzhemilev, whom Russia had prohibited entry to Crimea for five years this April, talks vaguely but with optimism. But he is, possibly, under the most pressure from his own wife.

“Our every phone call,” he admits, “begins with an argument! My wife is constantly asking me: what are you, then men, doing there? When will you come liberate us?”

Source: Radio Svoboda

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina


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