KIEV (AA) - Ukraine called on the international community to pressure the Russian Federation to prevent any repetition of the notorious 1944 deportation and ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tatars by the then-Soviet regime.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday in a written statement marking the deportation’s anniversary that more than a quarter-million Crimean Tatars were the victim of the Soviet Union's unmerciful policies on May 18-20, 1944.
"We want basic human rights violations in Crimea brought to an end, the occupiers of the peninsula to withdraw, and Ukraine's territorial integrity to be re-ensured within the country’s international borders," the statement said.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Since then, the region’s Tatar minority has complained of repression, including arbitrary arrests and detentions.
On May 18, 1944, tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet regime, which accused them of having collaborated with occupying Nazi forces.
Around 180,000 people were deported to various regions within Soviet territory, in particular Siberia and Uzbekistan. Almost half of the exiles, who endured long months of dire living conditions, are thought to have died of starvation and disease.
This 30-year exile of Crimean Tatars continued until 1987, when the Soviet government allowed 2,300 Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland. Another 19,300 people followed in 1988.