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Crimean Tatars Mark Anniversary Of Deportation

People gather for the day of mourning for victims of the deportations in the Crimea in Simferopol on May 18.
Some 15,000 people gathered in Simferopol, capital of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea, to mark the 68th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars.

Participants called on the Ukrainian authorities to recognize the deportation as genocide and to allow the creation of an autonomous Crimean-Tatar province.

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea, in May 1944 on grounds that they had allegedly collaborated with Nazi Germany, during World War II.

More than 180,000 were deported to Central Asia and Siberia.

An estimated 40 percent of these died during the journey or in the first year of exile.

The Crimean Tatars were rehabilitated by the Kremlin in 1957.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS