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Crimean Tatars Mark Anniversary Of Stalin-Era Deportations

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SIMFEROPOL — Dozens of Crimean Tatars have marked the anniversary of the Stalin-era deportations from the Black Sea peninsula, with police warning participants that the event was unauthorized but otherwise not interfering.

The May 18 event, held in the peninsula’s capital city Simferopol, took place without incident or any reported detentions, even as some participants argued with law enforcement officials.

Around 100 people recited prayers at a city park where a small monument stands to the tens of thousands who died during the 1944 deportations.

Some participants dressed in traditional garb, while others carried the flag of the Crimean Tatar community. Several elderly survivors recalled their experiences from the deportations.

?he Black Sea peninsula was annexed by Russia in March 2014.

The Crimean Tatar community has refused to recognize Russia’s assertion of authority over the region, and many activists have been harassed or detained.

In May 1944, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the community deported, accusing them of collaboration with the Nazis.

Tens of thousands died during the operation and during the first severe months in Kazakhstan and other remote parts of the Soviet Union.

They were only allowed to begin returning to Crimea in the late 1980s.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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