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Crimean Tatar Activist Sets Himself On Fire To Protest 'Lawlessness'


Crimean Tatar Sets Himself On Fire To Protest Building Development
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WATCH: Crimean Tatar Sets Himself On Fire To Protest Building Development (WARNING: Disturbing Images)

A Crimean Tatar activist set himself on fire in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, protesting plans by the Russia-imposed authorities to build apartment blocks on lands where Crimean Tatars houses now stand.

The man -- identified as Vatan Karabash -- doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire on August 3, shouting he was protesting "the authorities' lawlessness."

Several bystanders quickly knocked Karabash to the ground and extinguished the flames.

His condition was not immediately clear.

On August 2, police dispersed activists protesting the plans to build in the Strelkovaya area near Simferopol.

Russia-imposed authorities announced earlier this year that a new district to be called Crimean Rose would be developed there, including new apartment blocks for 9,000 families.

Local Crimean Tatars fear their houses will be demolished to make way for the planned apartments.

Crimean Tatars built homes in the area in the late 1980s and early '90s after returning from Central Asia, where they had been deported in 1944 by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

The return of the Crimean Tatars to their historic homeland was not sanctioned by Soviet authorities, meaning many of the homes were built without official permission.

The construction company Monolit that has been contracted to build the apartments said last month that "issues related to the legality of some houses raised in the area remain."

Russia forcibly occupied and annexed Crimea in March 2014, a move condemned by some 100 countries at the United Nations as a violation of international law.

The takeover of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine prompted the United States, the European Union, and others to impose sanctions on Russia.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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