Crimean Tatars are forced to become Russian citizens in order to have the right to work and the right to vote, says Kirimlioglu
BERLIN - Crimean Tatars in Crimea are forced to become Russian citizens, the Crimean leader Mustafa Kirimlioglu told Anadolu Agency (AA) at an interview in Berlin on Wednesday.
Kirimlioglu said that those who do not want Russian citizenship will be treated as foreigner and will have no right to employment or the right to vote. "The biggest issue is that our people are compelled to be Russian citizens, which many do not want to accept."
He added that the Crimean Tatars do not want to be under Russian domination but feel powerless, and he accuses Russia of taking advantage of Ukraine's current political situation to occupy Crimean soil.
"We cannot struggle with Russia as we are few in number, and we know what Russia's aim is," Kirimlioglu said.
On March 16, 98 percent of the voters who turned out, voted to secede from Kiev in favor of unification with Moscow in a controversial referendum.
Crimean Tatars wish to stay as an autonomous republic inside Ukraine, stated the leader and underscored, "There are also problems in Ukraine's democracy which cannot be compared to those in Russia. Therefore, it will be hard for our people to adopt to an authoritative and totalitarian country [referring to Russia]."
Kirimlioglu praised Turkey's policy on its non-recognition of Russia's annexation of the Crimean region and Ukraine. However, he stressed that Turkey has strong ties with Russia on natural gas with a trade volume amounting to $40 billion, but should trade cease with Russia, it would mean a great loss to Turkey's economy.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his support for the Crimean Tatars by stating that Turkey could not remain impartial if the Crimean Tatars face danger.
The Crimean Tatars make up roughly 13 percent of Crimea's 2.1 million population. In 1944, they were deported en masse to Central Asia by Moscow and only returned to Crimea as the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s.
Crimea's indigenous population, the 300,000-strong Tatar community boycotted the referendum that was condemned as "illegal" by Ukraine and the West.
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