Weekend attacks fuel inter-ethnic friction in the Crimea
Two attacks at the weekend may exacerbate inter-ethnic tension in the Crimea, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People fear. Late Friday night, around 2 a.m. around 100 people, including some in Cossack uniform, forcibly dismantled buildings erected without official permits (which are almost impossible to get) by Crimean Tatars near Simferopol. The “Russian Unity” Party has issued a statement that they were involved in the incident. They claim that they were responding to requests from local residents who have plots of land on the territory occupied.
A few hours later there was an arson attempt at the site of the future Soborna (Assembly) Mosque on Yaltynska Street in Simferopol. A guard was attacked and 3 Molotov cocktails thrown into the building he was in.
The Religious Information Service of Ukraine [RISU] reports that the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of the Crimea has condemned the attack calling it a provocative act by those forces in the Crimea who do not want stability and peaceful coexistence.
The Deputy Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov told the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle that they believe the two incidents were linked and that they aim is to exacerbate the inter-ethnic situation in the Crimea.
He calls on people in the Crimea to resist attempts to cause trouble.
Chubarov says that there are various possible explanations for the attacks. He believes the pogrom on the buildings in the settlement of Molodizhne may be an attempt to raise popularity among non-Crimean Tatar residents on the eve of elections due for a new head of the settlement council. The role acknowledged by “Russian Unity” is likely, he believes, to be an attempt by that party to raise their profile in the Crimea.
The fact that this pogrom was so swiftly followed by an arson attempt on the territory of the future Soborna Mosque was aimed at causing deep offence to Muslims and perhaps designed at destabilizing the situation.