“If you are a Crimean Tatar….”, 14 October 1973 (31.8)

<<No 31 : 17 May 1974>>

A letter from Anafi Nafeyev to the editorial boards of Soviet newspapers and journals and to the USSR Supreme Soviet (14 October 1973, Dzhankoi)

Nafeyev was born in the village of Yanyseli and now lives in Uzbekistan (town of Gulistan, Engels Street 33), works as a driver, is married, has three children.

Nafeyev writes that unlike many of his countrymen he does not consider the decree of 1967 to be a mere piece of paper calculated to deceive Soviet and foreign public opinion, but regards it as the first step on the path to a solution of the national question.


In September 1973 he travelled with his family to the Crimea and stayed with his cousin, who had come in 1968 under the organised recruitment scheme, in the State farm “Lighthouse” in Dzhankoi district.

After a visit to the district Soviet executive committee, during which the secretary said to him that the Crimean Tatars could live in the Crimea, Nafeyev went to see the director of the farm, I.B. Novogrebelsky, but the latter demanded to see the executive committee’s permission in writing (“I have a family and children too,” he said to Nafeyev). Nafeyev recounts the story of the farm’s accountant, a Crimean Tatar married to a Russian; Novogrebelsky had referred to this story in order to dissuade Nafeyev from a hopeless enterprise.

For a month Nafeyev haunted the thresholds of soviet and police institutions where he was sometimes redirected to another body but sometimes just openly driven away. A department head in the military registration office (according to the rules, military registration should precede residence registration) said right out:

“What nationality are you? A Tatar aren’t you? Go back, you bastard, where you came from.”

Although in country localities the village soviets issue residence permits, it is impossible for a Crimean Tatar to register without the permission of the police. Nafeyev was told this by the chairman of the Roskoshinskoye village soviet (“We are warned at every meeting not, by ourselves, to register Crimean Tatars….”). After approaching every office which, according to the published laws, should handle registration, Nafeyev went to the Dzhankoi municipal police station. The chief was receiving people in groups. Along with Nafeyev another eight people went into the office. For almost all of them a permit was authorized, including for a recidivist criminal. On the application of Nafeyev the chief silently wrote “refused” and kept it, without deigning to answer the question: “On what grounds?” In addition, a Tadzhik who was registered in the Crimea was refused a visa for his wife, who was a Crimean Tatar.

On 8 October Nafeyev addressed a complaint to the chairman of the Dzhankoi district Soviet executive committee, from whom he received the advice to leave the Crimea before the weather turned cold, and to Procurator Shabanov, who again referred him to the police, declaring that the Crimea, as an all-union health resort, was under special residence regulations.

But, replied Nafeyev, “I have come to you with a complaint about the actions of the police chief and the town executive committee. I have already been living in places //of exile for 30 years. How much longer must I serve in order to live in my homeland? ”

“You can live in exile for hundred years. What does it matter to me?” replied the Procurator.

After describing the end of the conversation, Nafeyev writes:

“… I nevertheless believe that I will live in my homeland together with my people…I regret only that up to the present time I have not taken an active enough part in the national movement of the whole people.”