Crimean Tatars: Leader Announces Boycott Of Crimea Autonomy Referendum
The leader of Crimean Tatars, Refat Chubarov, has announced that the Crimean Tatars will boycott the upcoming referendum regarding Crimea’s autonomy status, arguing that it is unconstitutional, particularly because of rising tensions and Russia’s occupation of the peninsula. Chubarov has also urged the United Nations to send its peacekeeping forces to come to the region, before the crisis escalates any further.
Below is an article published by the World Bulletin:
Crimean Tatar Mejlis (parliament) leader Refat Chubarov has announced that the Crimean Tatars will boycott the upcoming referendum [scheduled for 16 March 2014] regarding Crimea's status.
The new Crimean parliament, which came to power after former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted from the presidential palace in Kiev in late February, announced that Crimea would hold a referendum on March 16 regarding whether or not it should breakaway from Ukraine and join Russia.
Both the Crimean Tatars, who are the native Turkic-speaking Muslim population of Crimea and the new Kiev government have condemned the referendum and unconstitutional, especially as it is being held in a climate of tension in which gunmen in unmarked uniforms are occupying the peninsula.
Chubarov has also accused the new Crimean parliament of not consulting the Crimean Tatar community, which prefers to stay with Ukraine, and therefore stated that he did not recognize its authority.
Despite the planned referendum in 10 days time [16 March 2014], the Crimean parliament earlier today voted in favor of joining Russia. As Crimea has been predominently Russian since Soviet dictator exiled the Crimean Tatars in 1944, the referendum is expected to produce a similar result.
Describing the parliament decision and referendum as an 'illogical' and 'illegal' provocation, Chubarov called on United Nations forces to come to the region.
"The United Nations should have already arrived here. If they come later it will make no difference. We do not possess the strength to stop this on our own," he said.
The decree making Crimea part of Russia is already in force and Ukrainian troops still on its territory will be treated as occupiers and forced to surrender or leave, the Russian-controlled region's deputy prime minister said.
"The only lawful armed force on the territory of the Crimea is the Russian armed forces," Rustam Temirgaliev said.
"Armed forces of any third country are occupiers. The Ukrainian armed forces have to choose: lay down their weapons, quit their posts, accept Russian citizenship and join the Russian military. If they do not agree, we are prepared to offer them safe passage from the territory of Crimea to their Ukrainian homeland."
Photo by World Bulletin.