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Police Chief slams attempts at provocation by the Simferopol City Council

He says that the decision not to allocate land on Yalynska St to build an Assembly Mosque was unlawful and that the police would not be vacating the protesters

The Acting Head of the Crimean Police Mykola Illichov has condemned the refusal of the Simferopol City Council to allocate specific land for an Assembly Mosque as “pure provocation”

At a press conference in Simferopol on Wednesday, he said that “out of some kind of ill will, the City Council was refusing to allow the allocation of the land on Yaltynska St of a Soborna or Assembly Mosque” even though the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims had gathered all necessary documents. “This is pure provocation. They are now saying that the land has been seized. Do you expect the police to now go in to vacate the land? Never! And that’s because it’s the Council that is behaving lawlessly.

Mr Illichov said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had operational information indicating that there were plans to sell the land.  He explained that it would be premature to give more details, but promised that the Crimea would learn who wanted to sell the land, to whom and how.

The Simferopol City Council had previously given permission to build the Soborna Mosque, yet on 10 January this year, it took the decision to change the location, allocating a different site.

The Crimean Prosecutor registered a protest in support of the Spiritual Directorate’s claim for the site on Yaltynska St. 

On 7 February the Crimean Economic Court ordered the Simferopol City Council to conclude a lease agreement within ten days with the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of the Crimea for the landsite on Yaltynska St

At this site, on 12 February, Crimean Tatars launched an initiative to gather stones for the building. They called on Muslims and other residents of the Crimea to bring one stone each. The organizers explained that their purpose was not to collect material for construction but to demonstrate to the authorities the Crimean Tatars’ unity and determination.

The First Deputy Head of the Mejilis Refat Chubarov has stated that the construction of the Soborna Mosque will commence only after the land is formally allocated to them. The Simferopol City Council has asserted that the stone-gathering initiative is unauthorized.

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