On May 18, 1944, the Soviet government initiated a special operation in Crimea: the deportation of Crimean Tatars (Kirimli) to the Urals and Central Asia.1 More than 183,000 Crimean Tatars were forcibly deported from Crimea to Siberia, the Urals and Central Asia as a form of collective punishment.2 This is called the Sürgünlik.3
A “neo-Stalinist frame” has played a major role in denying the rights of Crimean Tatars for self-determination and preservation of their ethnic identity in both pre and post annexation Crimea. The Crimean Tatars counter-framed by demanding their rights as “indigenous people.”4
In 1989 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev recognized the Crimean Tatars as a repressed people who were illegally deported. Over 250,000 returned. However, in the years since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, life for the 250,000 Tatar Muslims of Crimea has disintegrated. 5
Since the the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 out of 3000 registered media outlets only 232 managed to survive "re-registration”. They had to succumb to the occupation administration censorship. All 12 independent Crimean Tatar media outlets left the peninsula due to persecution.6
In 2021 the Committee to Protect Journalists explored the persecution of civic journalists among Crimean Tartars:
Journalist Nariman Memedeminov was the first to go to jail. He was one of the founders of [civic journalism in Crimea and] Krymskaya Solidarnost. Memedeminov was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for “propaganda of terrorism” in 2018.7
The control of journalists in the Crimea has been explored by Zeveleva.8
Uehling, Greta Lynn. 2004. Beyond memory: the Crimean Tatars' deportation and return. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
“On Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatar People from Crimea by the Soviet Regime” as delivered by Ambassador Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, to the 1268th meeting of the Permanent Council, 21 May 2020.
Within three days cattle trains were used to deport Crimean Tartars to Uzbek, part of Stalin’s policy of population transfer in the Soviet Union. (see Uehling, Ibid.)
Aydin, Filiz Tutku, and Fethi Kurtiy Sahin. 2019. "The politics of recognition of Crimean Tatar collective rights in the post-Soviet period: With special attention to the Russian annexation of Crimea". Communist and Post-Communist Studies. 52 (1): 39-50.
Bayrasli, Elmira (2019). Who Will Speak for the Tatars? When Russia seized Crimea in 2014, a crackdown on the Muslim minority ensued. Foreign Policy (May 18).
President of PEN Ukraine Andrei Kurkov, Crimean Tatar blogger and activist Nariman Memedeminov, RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly, and Ukrainian activist and founder of Media Initiative for Human Rights Maria Tomak for a discussion of current free expression issues in Crimea and the international response. YouTube: Free Expression in Crimea: Seven Years After Russian Occupation. (May 19, 2021). Pen America.
Mite, Valentinas (2020) “Crimean Tatar civic journalists risk persecution to cover their community in Russian-annexed Crimea.” (sept.15).
Zeveleva, O (2019) How states tighten control: A field theory perspective on journalism in contemporary Crimea. British Journal of Sociology 70: 1225–1244.