Introduction [Crimean Tatars], May 1974 (31.0)

<<No 31 : 17 May 1974>>

This issue of the Chronicle appears exactly thirty years after the tragic and shameful night of 17-18 May 1944 [mass deportation from Crimea] and consists entirely of materials relating to the movement of the Crimean Tatars. It is a movement unique in our country for its mass character, embracing definitely more than a half of the adult Crimean Tatar population, and for its duration, having been operative since 1956.

With the exception of two short addenda (items 25 & 26), which do not require additional commentary, the texts in this issue have been individually numbered for convenience of cross reference. The issue has been compiled from items made available by representatives of the Crimean Tatar movement.

PART ONE (texts 1-9)

includes several individual appeals to the press, to the USSR Supreme Soviet and to international organizations. They describe in the main the events of the last year and a half.

PART TWO (texts 10-24)

The second retrospective part of the issue summarizes items of the Crimean Tatar movement from 1966 to 1973.

The latter can be roughly divided between

[a] Informational items

They offer accounts of meetings of representatives of the Crimean Tatar people, of activities undertaken by them, and of “legal actions” which the movement has been concerned to oppose.

[b] Collective statements by Crimean Tatars

These carry from between dozens to tens of thousands of signatures, and are addressed to Soviet and international organizations, setting forth and explaining the aims of the movement.

The exposition of all the items is, necessarily, extremely condensed.

It pursues the goal not only of the maximum communication of information about concrete facts but also of a maximally precise reproduction, in content and form, of the movement’s platform.

From the materials of this issue it is evident that this platform, whilst fully maintaining a communist and Soviet basis with regard to its ideas and terminology, has in recent years noticeably broadened to include points of international law (in which connection which the range of addressees has also broadened).

At the same time the Crimean Tatar movement has at all stages, been closely linked with the general thrust of the activities in defence of human rights in the USSR.

This is clear, for example, from the numerous materials published in previous issues of the Chronicle [1]. In particular, activists of the Crimean Tatar movement have repeatedly participated in the work of the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR and have supported its letters and other declarations.

In turn, the Crimean Tatar movement has enjoyed, and enjoys, the support of all in the USSR to whom human rights are important. This spirit of active sympathy and solidarity manifested itself, perhaps, with especial clarity in the life and activities of two people imprisoned precisely because of their statements in defence of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people:

Ilya Yankelevich GABAI [1938-1973],
who died tragically last year [CCE 30.1];


Pyotr Grigorevich GRIGORENKO [1909-1987],
who has already languished for five years in Soviet prisons
and psychiatric hospitals.

[See CCE 12.2 — The Trial of P. G. Grigorenko (February 1970)]

[Commentary No 31]



The relevant materials from issues 1-11 (1968-1969) are collected together in chapter 12, “The Crimean Tatars” (pp 249-270) of Peter Reddaway’s Uncensored Russia (1972). Some, but by no means all, of those reports are listed below:

2.4 (30 June 1968) “An appeal by Crimean Tatars to world public opinion”

7.1 (30 April 1969) “The Trial of Gomer Bayev”

7.7 (30 April 1969) “The ‘resettlement’ of Crimean Tatars in the Crimea”

8.5 (30 June 1969) “The 6 June 1969 demonstration by Crimean Tatars on Mayakovsky Square”

9.2 (31 August 1969) “The trial of ten Crimean Tatars” (Tashkent)


Subsequent issues of the Chronicle containing extensive materials about the Crimean Tatars are:

12.3 (28 February 1970) “The trial of Ilya Gabai and Mustafa Dzhemilev” (Tashkent)

13.10 (30 April 1970) “News in brief”, item 12 (The Crimean Tatar movement)

18.7 (5 March 1971) “The Crimean Tatar Movement”

19.5 (30 April 1971) “An appeal by the Crimean Tatar people”

27.4 (15 October 1972) “The persecution of the Crimean Tatars”


The largest collection of Crimean Tatar documents to appear in book form, Delo 709 [Case No. 709], was published by the Herzen Foundation (Amsterdam, 1975).

About 100 items have appeared in the Samizdat Archive.

The most up-to-date study is Ann Sheehy, The Crimean Tatars, the Volga Germans and the Meskhetians, Minority Rights Group, 36 Craven Street, London W.C.2., 1973. (An earlier version of her work appeared in B. Whitaker ed., The Fourth World, London, 1972).

The study has also appeared in German: Krimtataren und Meschier, Pogrom, 2 Hamburg 13, Parkallee 18, 1973.

[The most recent (2015) volume is Brian Glyn Williams’ The Crimean Tatars – From Soviet Genocide to Putin’s Conquest, Hurst: London.]