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Crimean Tatar World Congress Opens

Crimean Tatars commemorate the 65th anniversary of the mass deportation in Simferopol on May 18.
BAKHCHISARAY, Ukraine -- The World Congress of Crimean Tatars (Kurultai) has opened in the Crimean city of Bakhchisaray, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

More than 800 delegates from 12 countries are attending the congress at Bakhchisaray's Khan Palace.

Ali Khamzin, the head of the congress's organizing committee, told RFE/RL that the congress is focusing on ways to consolidate Crimean Tatars.

He said such issues as preserving the group's ethnic identity, and reviving the Crimean Tatar language and culture, are also on the agenda.

The congress's plenary meetings will be held in Simferopol, and panel discussions will take place in the Ukrainian peninsula cities of Bilohorsk, Yevpatoria, Sudak, and Eski-Kirim.

The event ends on May 22.

May 18 was marked as the 65th anniversary of the forced deportation of some 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Central Asia by the Soviet regime. Nearly half of the deportees died en route.