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Zelensky urges Erdogan to bring Crimean Tatars back from Russian captivity

by Kateryna Hodunova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 8, 2024 11:00 PM 2 min read
President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the media during a joint press conference on March 08, 2024 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky passed a list of Ukrainian citizens, including Crimean Tatars, captured by Russia to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting on March 8 in Istanbul.

Russia has illegally imprisoned 116 Crimean Tatars as of February 2023, including activist Nariman Dzhelialov, who served as the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, a representative body of the Crimean Tatar people.

"We have to free them all: the soldiers and the civilians, those who were captured while defending their people, and those who are being repressed because of who he or she is," Zelensky said during the joint press conference.

According to Zelensky, the list of captured Crimean Tatars "has only got bigger," and "only a few people" were brought back by exchange procedures before the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Zelensky expressed hope that Erdogan would help to bring more Crimean Tatars back from Russian captivity, stressing that no other world leader has able to do so so far.

"I count on President Erdogan. I am sure that he will be able to do it (to bring Crimean Tatars back to Ukraine), at least he would try," Zelensky said.

Members of the Crimean Tatar community are regularly indicted with trumped-up charges of extremism and terrorism and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in kangaroo courts. Also, over 5,000 human rights violations have been recorded in Crimea since the all-out war started in 2022.

Russia occupied the peninsula in 2014 after the EuroMaidan Revolution ousted the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Since then, the occupation authorities have been carrying out repressions against pro-Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars.

In the shadow of war, Kremlin continues terrorizing Crimean Tatars
They usually come at four or five in the morning. Men in uniform and with guns pull up in large vehicles. The dogs start barking. The family wakes up, knowing exactly what is about to happen. The house is searched. Phones and computers are taken away. And so is the

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