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Crimean Tatars Continue Protest, Demand Land

KYIV -- A group of Crimean Tatars is continuing a protest action in front of the government building in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Some 120 Crimean Tatar activists have been staging the protest since mid-April, demanding land for Tatar repatriates in Crimea.

Leaders of the action -- Nariman Potelov, Dilyaver Reshitov, Rinat Shaymardanov, and Reshat Seydaliev -- told RFE/RL that seven of the protesters are on hunger strike. They say one of the hunger strikers is close to death.

The protesters' major demand is for the government to ease the process for Tatar repatriates to acquire land for ownership.

Currently, the Defense Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, and Academy of Agriculture control the land on the peninsula.

The indigenous people of Crimea -- Crimean Tatars -- were deported to Central Asia by the Soviets in 1944. They started returning to their historic homeland after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Since then, they have been demanding their ancestral land from local authorities.