Crimean Tatar Mejlis holds important election as repression continues


Update:  Ilmi Umerov was questioned on Monday March 23 about the demonstration on Feb 26.  His testimony totally refuted the charges about the Deputy Head of the Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz.  “When they asked me questions about Akhtem, I repeated that I caught sight of him several times on Feb 26, and each time he was trying to calm people, not escalating the situation”. 

Nariman Dzhelyal has been elected First Deputy Head of the Mejlis, or Crimean Tatar representative assembly against which the occupation regime in Crimea has been relentlessly waging an offensive since shortly after annexation.  At the same meeting, another member of the Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov was elected Deputy Head just hours after receiving a summons to appear for questioning on March 23 at the Investigative Committee’s ‘department for particularly important cases’.  

It is unclear as yet why Umerov has been summonsed, and whether he will really be questioned only as ‘witness’.  With the Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov banned by Russia from his homeland and his First Deputy Akhtem Chiygoz imprisoned since Jan 29 on surreal charges laid under Russian law although pertaining to a demonstration held before Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, there seem few if any limits to the lawlessness demonstrated by the occupation regime.

Nariman Dzelyal explained to QHA that he will be coordinating the work of the Mejlis in Crimea.  He stressed that the Head of the Mejlis remains Refat Chubarov, but since the latter is in forced exile, he has been elected as person coordinating the activities of the Mejlis, and regional mejlis “so that there is a specific person for preparing various kinds of decisions, carrying them out, etc.”

As reported here, the occupation regime has resorted to repressive measures against the Mejlis in general and specific members, including veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev, the first to be banned from his native Crimea.  It has also been trying to replace elected members of the Mejlis and Qurultay or congress with ‘reliable’ – pro-Kremlin – people. 

Having banished or imprisoned leading figures in the Mejlis, the occupation regime was clearly hoping to be able to slip their man in as head of the Mejlis.  This person, Remsi Ilyasov, is currently deputy speaker of the Crimean parliament.  Other ‘malleable’ Crimean Tatars would also receive posts in an attempt to seize control of the Mejlis and Qurultay. 

Refat Chubarov issued a statement as head of the Mejlis in which he spelled out both the aims and the methods being applied by the Russian occupation authorities. 

“The most brutal punitive policy carried out against the Crimean Tatar people since March 2014 is ultimately aimed at totally crushing the will of the Crimean Tatar people and their struggle for their rights in their native land”.

Efforts have been made, presumably to test the water, in Feodosiya, with the pro-regime movement Kyyrym, led by Remzi Ilyasov, trying to change the leaders of the regional Mejlis.  The Qurultay Central Election Commission pointed to flagrant infringements in the procedure for such elections and said that they will not recognize the supposed result.

The regime has failed at central level, but is likely to continue trying to take over regional mejlis, and Nariman Dzhelyal’s coordinating role will be important in countering such attempts.

Halya Coynash

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