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75th Anniversary of the Deportation of Crimean Tatars

This panel will address the history of the deportation and the contemporary issues facing Crimean Tatars.

Date & Time

Oct. 24, 2019
2:00pm – 3:15pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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This year marks the 75th anniversary of the forcible deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homes in Crimea by Joseph Stalin in 1944. Crimean Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until the late 1980s. The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 presented the community with new challenges. This panel will address the history of the deportation and the contemporary issues facing Crimean Tatars.

Selected Quotes

Brian Williams


“Crimean Tatars aren’t just Mongols as the Soviet authorities depicted them.  Soviet propaganda depicted Tatars as being newcomers who came in during the Mongol invasions during the 1200s.  In actuality the Tatars go back as far as the Goths who settled in this area in the 4th century […] they have deeper roots in Crimea than Soviet authorities would lead you to believe.”

“The real reason they were deported had more to do with the plans Stalin had to invade Turkey […] his goal was to seize provinces lost from the Russian Empire to Turkey.  In order to do this, he thought he it would be safe to secure the borders and to get rid of non-trusted, pro-Turkish, pro-Muslim groups; cleanse them all preemptively in case of a war in case these small groups rose up in support of Turkey.”

“The Soviet authorities filled Crimea up with Russians, and made it into a resort […] ancient Tatar names were erased, ancient Tatar books were burned, mosques were blown up, everything was destroyed in an Orwellian attempt at “culturecide” – ethnocide.”

Gulnara Bekirova

“The Crimean ASSR was created thanks to the fact that the peninsula had an indigenous people […] in Crimea, the korenizatsiya policy was even referred to as tatarizatsiya (Tatarisation).  In the early days, the ASSR’s leaders were Crimean Tatars […] but this all changed within 5-6 years […] the period known as the ‘Great Terror’ destroyed the leading lights of Crimean intelligentsia, not just the party leaders.”

“Regarding the idea of ‘Russian Crimea’ which you hear of so often today – in actual fact, Russian rule in Crimea was two times shorter than the last period of the Crimean Khanate – around 340 years.”

“The 1944 deportation is the event that unites the Crimean Tatar people today […] For the Jews it is the Holocaust, for the Ukrainians it is the Holodomor.  The deportation touched every Crimean Tatar person, and it is extremely important that we remember this.”



Hosted By

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, and the region through research and exchange.  Read more

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