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Crimean Tatars Call On Kyiv To Restore Their Rights

12 December 2005 -- Members of the Crimean Tatar Congress gathered in the main Crimean city Simferopol said yesterday that Ukraine's integration with the West should not go forward until Kyiv restores Tatar rights.

Congressional delegates, issuing a statement at the end of the three-day session, accused Ukrainian authorities of disregarding the rights of Crimean Tatars, who were deported en masse by Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1944.

RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported that congress member Timur Dagci was among the voices calling for Kyiv to recognize the deportation as genocide:

"Our problem -- the problem of Stalin's genocide of the Crimean Tatar people -- is an undeniable fact, so I believe all countries, the United Nations, and the European Union will recognize it and will decide that it was indeed genocide," Dagci said.

Many Tatars have since returned to Crimea, but have been unable to reclaim valuable land and property that was theirs before the deportations.

The Tatar Congress delegates called on the Council of Europe and the European Union to make Ukraine's possible membership in the EU and World Trade Organization contingent on their recognition of Crimean Tatar rights.

(RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service/Interfax)