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INTERNATIONAL > Russia bans Tatar leader from Crimea after Putin signs decree

KIEV - Agence France-Presse

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Russia on Tuesday banned the leader of Crimea's pro-Kiev Tatar community from entering the Black Sea peninsula for five years, the Tatar assembly said.
      
Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoğlu was handed an official order barring him from returning to Crimea as he crossed to mainland Ukraine from the territory that Moscow controversially annexed last month, the assembly said in a statement.        

The move came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree rehabilitating Crimea's Tatars, native inhabitants of the peninsula who were deported under Stalin over accusations of Nazi collaboration and who fiercely oppose the region's new Moscow-backed authorities.

Kırımoğlu, also a member of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada parliament, condemned the decision as "an indication of what a 'civilised' state we are dealing with".
      
Kırımoğlu pledged he would ignore the ban and return to Crimea.
      
Crimea's 300,000 Muslim Tatars, who make up around 12 percent of the peninsula's population, largely boycotted a disputed referendum last month in which nearly 97 percent of voters chose to split from Ukraine and join Russia.
      
In an attempt to appease the community, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday he had signed a decree rehabilitating Crimea's Tatars, who were deported under Stalin over accusations of Nazi collaboration and who fiercely oppose the region's new Moscow-backed authorities.        

The overture looks unlikely to satisfy the Tatars, who eye the Kremlin with distrust and have recently said they will consider holding a plebescite on broader autonomy.

April/22/2014

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