May 18, 2014 8:08 am

Ukraine marks 1944 deportation of Crimea’s Tatars from region

Crimean Tatars hold a Ukrainian and Tatar flags as they attend a memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Tatars from Crimea, near a Mosque in Simferopol on May 17, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV


KIEV, Ukraine – Several hundred people have marched in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, to commemorate the brutal deportation 70 years ago of Crimea’s entire population of Tatars.

Many Tatars later returned to Crimea. They strongly supported the new Ukrainian government and opposed Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in March.

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While the Kyiv rally proceeded without incident, the new Kremlin-backed leaders of Crimea banned Sunday’s main rally in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Some Tatars instead gathered near a mosque on the city outskirts.

In May 1944, shortly after Soviet troops drove German forces from Crimea, Josef Stalin accused the Tatars of collaborating with the enemy and ordered their deportation. About 250,000 Tatars were shipped in freight trains to Central Asia, where more than 40 per cent died of hunger and disease.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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