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Ukrainian Officials Bar Mass Gathering By Crimean Tatars

A Crimean Tatar in Simferopol in May attends a ceremony marking the anniversary of the people's deportation from the peninsula to distant parts of the Soviet Union
KYIV -- Kyiv city authorities have prohibited mass gatherings and meetings by Crimean Tatar organizations, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The Kyiv Mayor's Office explained the decision in terms of the "need to prevent religion-based conflicts during the visit of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to Ukraine."

Representatives of the Crimean Tatar organization Avdet told journalists on July 28 that the decision was made on July 26.

Avdet representatives also said that Patriarch Kirill's visit was used as a pretext to ban mass protests by Crimean Tatars. They added that "Patriarch Kirill would be very surprised if he learned that his name was being adduced as justification for taking antidemocratic and anticonstitutional decisions."

The Crimean Tatars have been trying for the past month to obtain legal permission to hold a mass gathering in front of the presidential administration to draw attention to land problems in Crimea.