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Crimean Tatars Mark 60th Anniversary Of Deportation

18 May 2004 -- Tatars in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula mark today the 60th anniversary of their deportation on the orders of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Security was tight in the Crimean capital of Simferopol ahead of a rally planned for the afternoon.

On 18 May 1944, more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars were deported to Siberia and Central Asia on suspicion of having collaborated with Nazi Germany.

Nearly half of them died in the first two years of deportation.

For decades, the Tatars were prevented from returning to Crimea. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 250,000 Tatars moved back to the Black Sea Peninsula.

But Crimea now is mostly Russian and tensions recently have risen over Tatars' claims to land they say was confiscated from them when they were deported. (AFP)