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Crimean Tatars with a "self-preservation" patrol warm themselves around a fire on a night shift on the outskirts of Simferopol.
For more than a month, Ruslan Dzhepparov has come home from work, rested, then headed back outside for a night patrolling the streets of Akhmechet, a neighborhood of Simferopol that is home to some 8,000 Crimean Tatars.

"We do this peacefully. We don't have any weapons," Dzhepparov tells RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. "We simply do this to prevent provocations. If there is some kind of provocation, we communicate with our headquarters, and with the police, of course."

The headquarters, located inside the courtyard of the local mosque, stays brightly lit all night, as members of the Crimean Tatar community wait for news from the street patrols, which have operated since the first day the Russian military entered Crimea on February 27.

Dulyaver Reshitov, a representative of the local Ashmechet council, says the patrols' main strength is vigilance. "We're not a self-defense force," he says, referring to the informal vigilante units, often pro-Russian, who sometimes resort to violent tactics. "No one is attacking us. We're more of a self-preservation group. It's not the authorities we're fighting against, just hooligans trying to make trouble."

WATCH: Tatar Night Patrols In Simferopol (In Russian)
Tatar Night Patrols In Simferopol's Akhmechet Neighborhood
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Such "self-preservation" groups have sprung up in a number of Tatar communities throughout the Crimean peninsula. Despite being the territory's native inhabitants, Crimean Tatars are vastly outnumbered by ethnic Russians, a result of World War II-era deportations. Now they fear Russia's military takeover may mean a fresh round of ethnic repressions and rights violations.

The Crimean Tatar assembly, or Mejlis, serves as the main coordinator of the patrols. Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy head of the Mejlis, said the night watch isn't aimed at monitoring the activities of professional troops.

"Primarily, this is meant to work against those who want to take advantage of the situation by consciously attempting to create a conflict or turn things into an open confrontation here in Crimea," he said.

-- Daisy Sindelar
Supporters of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah wait for the start of an election rally in Parwan Province.
The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.

Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

MONDAY, March 31:

Belgium: Brussels hosts an international conference on genocide prevention (to April 1).

Kazakhstan: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal visits Astana and Almaty (to April 2).

Kyrgyzstan: Pakistani writer and journalist Ahmed Rashid holds lectures in Bishkek on security issues in Central Asia.

Moldova/Canada: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird makes an official visit to Chisinau.

Moldova/Romania: Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean makes a working visit to Chisinau on the occasion of the second session of the Moldovan-Romanian Intergovernmental Commission for European Integration.

Serbia/Kosovo: Brussels hosts another meeting between Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Tajikistan/China: Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan visits Dushanbe (to April 1).

Ukraine: Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev is scheduled to speak at a UN Security Council meeting in New York.

World: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes its report on climate change.

TUESDAY, April 1:

Azerbaijan: The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) holds a meeting in Geneva to review Azerbaijan (to April 2).

Iran: The 35th anniversary of the official affirmation of Iran as an Islamic republic.

NATO: Brussels hosts the NATO Foreign Ministerial meetings (to April 2).

NATO/Ukraine: Brussels hosts a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting (to April 2).

Tajikistan: Dushanbe hosts a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Defense Ministers meeting (to April 3).

Turkmenistan: Ashgabat hosts a regional meeting on the legal status of the Caspian Sea (to April 2).

World: The 10th anniversary of Google's Gmail free email service.


Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal visits Bishkek (to April 4).

UN: World Autism Awareness Day.

THURSDAY, April 3:

Azerbaijan: An annual international travel and tourism fair opens in Baku (to April 5).

Czech Republic: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits Prague (to April 4).

Russia: Moscow hosts a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.

U.S./Eastern Europe: Atlantic Council in Washington hosts a discussion with Anne Applebaum titled "Between East and West."

FRIDAY, April 4:

EU: Athens hosts an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union member states, known as the “Gymnich” (to April 5).

NATO: The 65th anniversary of the foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Russia: Moscow hosts a CIS Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.

Ukraine: The deadline for registration of candidates for the May 25 presidential election.

UN: Mine Awareness Day.

SATURDAY, April 5:

Afghanistan: Presidential election.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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