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Crimean Tatars Seek Criminal Case Against Ukrainian Interior Minister

Crimean Tatar leaders want Anatoly Mogilev to be charged with inciting hatred.
Crimean Tatar leaders want Anatoly Mogilev to be charged with inciting hatred.
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Crimean Tatars have protested what they say are inflammatory comments by new Ukrainian Interior Minister Anatoliy Mogilev, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the unofficial national parliament of the peninsula's indigenous Tatar population, wants the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office to open a criminal case against Mogilev.

Mejlis leader Mustafa Dzhemilev told RFE/RL that the Mejlis's legal experts are drafting a request for an expert evaluation of statements and articles by Mogilev. Dzhemilev said those statements incite hatred against Crimean Tatars and undermine political stability in Crimea.

Mogilev has claimed in public statements and published articles that Western powers are inciting a repeat of the Kosovo scenario in Crimea and thus endangering the local Russian population.

He also said Crimean Tatars collaborated with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler during World War II. Soviet leader Josef Stalin used that alleged collaboration as grounds for deporting the Crimean Tatars to Central Asia in May 1944.

"Not only Crimean Tatars, but all people of good will, should protest the promotion of such chauvinism," Dzhemilev said. "The future of a state where such fascists are named to top state posts is quite clear."

Dzhemilev added that if courts fail to condemn Mogilev's statements, the Crimean Tatar Mejlis will consider filing a complaint with the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mogilev served briefly as head of the Crimean police force. He was dismissed from that post in 2007 by then-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Tatar activists say that as police chief he condoned the use of excessive force by police against Tatar protesters.

On March 17, Dzhemilev will attend hearings at the European Parliament on the situation of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine following the election of Viktor Yanukovych as president. He told RFE/RL he plans to raise the issue of Mogilev’s statements at those hearings.