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Pro-Russia Groups Want Crimean Tatar Bodies Disbanded

Russian bloc leader Oleg Rodivilov

Russian bloc leader Oleg Rodivilov

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Several pro-Kremlin political groups in Crimea are calling on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to ban the Crimean Tatars' autonomous bodies, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Oleg Rodivilov, a member of the Crimean parliament and the leader of Crimea's Russian bloc, told RFE/RL today that he considers the Crimean Tatars' Mejlis (parliament) and its Kurultai (congress) to be organized criminal groups and said their activities are unconstitutional.

He said both bodies should be disbanded in order to prevent terrorist attacks similar to those taking place in Russia from occurring in Ukraine.

Other pro-Russia groups in Crimea, including the Russian Community of Crimea and the Tavria Union, have also sent open letters to Yanukovych urging him to ban the Mejlis and the Kurultai.

The Crimean Tatars first established their own Mejlis and Kurultai in 1917. But they were abolished by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, who ordered the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars to Central Asia in May 1944.

In 1991, the Crimean Tatars received official permission to return to Crimea and the Mejlis-Kurultai structure was revived.

Ali Khamzin, an active member of the Mejlis, told RFE/RL that the statements by Crimea's pro-Kremlin organizations are provocations. He said the Mejlis functions within the framework of Ukrainian law.

Khamzin said pro-Russian groups in Crimea are destabilizing the situation on the peninsula with their statements about abolishing the Crimean Tatars' self-governing organs.

"They are trying to create a situation similar to the South Ossetian scenario in Georgia," Khamzin said.

"The closure of the Mejlis will only lead to destabilization in the region. It will not frighten the Crimean Tatars, just as the Soviet repression did not frighten them. The abolition of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing system would mean that Ukraine is creating a racist regime similar to the communist system," Khamzin added.