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13.03.2008

Possible breakthrough in finding those who desecrated a Crimean Muslim Cemetery

   

In a shocking attack just over a month ago, all 220 gravestones in the central Muslim cemetery of the Nizhnyohirske settlement in the Crimea were destroyed.  There was widespread outrage and the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine issued a statement expressing sympathy with the Muslims of the Crimea and suggesting that the scale of the assault suggested careful planning.

A full investigation and maximum efforts to find the culprits were promised.

On Wednesday 12 March, a Crimean newspaper “Krymska Pravda” reported that the police had detained people they suspected of the crime. The police are clearly still reluctant to give any official statement but it would seem that they suspect 10 people living in different cities of the Crimea who had gathered to celebrate a friend’s birthday. They apparently had a lot to drink and the police are still trying to ascertain what happened next.

The outfit in question is a pro-Russian “Cossack” organization “The Ataman Sotnia [military company] “Sobol” also figuring as the security firms “Canon” and “Aspect”. It is known for its seizure of a sanatorium, regular beatings of passers-by and residents at places seized and provoking fights with Crimean Tatars. The structure apparently enjoys the support of the head of the “Russian Community” of the Crimea and Deputy Oleg Rodiivilov, as well as of the Department of Internal Security of the Central Headquarters of the Crimean Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

It may therefore be worth noting that of 10 suspects only two have been detained.

The situation is as yet unclear. It is probably also worth pointing out that the Crimean newspaper’s tone and wording makes it very clear that it  would be delighted to prove the Mejilis of the Crimean Tatars wrong. The latter is convinced that the attack was planned as an act of provocation.

The reasons for such conclusions from the Mejilis, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine and other organizations are in part based on practical considerations: not only did the perpetrators of this act destroy a very large number of gravestones, but they also partially brought down the fence and killed the dog guarding the cemetery. 

Based on information from http://www.kp.crimea.ua/ and www.maidan.org.ua

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