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Deportation of Crimean Tatars and their National Struggle under Soviet Rule

J. Otto Pohl*

28 November 1917 — Independent Crimean Tatar state declared.

1918-1920 — Control of Crimea disputed by German, Crimean Tatar, Bolshevik and White forces.

November 1920 — Bolsheviks consolidate control over Crimea.

18 October 1921 — Lenin signs decree creating Crimean ASSR.

September - November 1941 — German army captures most of Crimean peninsula.

January 1942 — Germans begin recruiting Crimean Tatars into self-defense battalions. A total of 8,684 recruited into 14 companies by 29 January 1944.

11 May 1944 — Soviets recapture Crimea. Stalin issues GKO (State Defense Committee) decree 5859ss ordering "All Tatars are to be exiled from the territory of Crimea and settled permanently as special settlers in regions of the Uzbek SSR."

18-20 May 1944 — NKVD deports 183,155 Crimean Tatars on 67 train echelons. Another 11,000 Crimean Tatar men mobilized into forced labor brigades. Operation involves 32,000 members of NKVD.

21 May 1944 — Stalin issues GKO decree 5937ss redirecting 31,551 Crimean Tatars bound for Uzbekistan north to the Urals.

20 July 1944 — NKVD massacres Crimean Tatar villagers remaining on Arabat Strip.

14 August 1944 — GKO authorizes settlement of 51,000 people in 17,000 empty collective farms to replace deported Crimean Tatars.

14 December 1944 — Supreme Soviet issues decree to replace all Crimean Tatar, German and Greek place names in Crimea with Russian ones.

8 January 1945 — The SNK (Council of Peoples Commissariats) issues Ukaz no. 34-14s "Regulations on Special Commanders of the NKVD" and Ukaz no. 35 "On the Legal Regulations of Special Settlers."

30 June 1945 — Presidium of Supreme Soviet dissolves Crimean ASSR.

21 November 1947 — Council of Ministers issues decree "On Criminal Sentences for Flight from Places of Special Settlement for Citizens of Crimean Tatar Nationality for Terms of 20 Years of Hard Labor."

26 November 1948 — Presidium of Supreme Soviet issues decree making exile of Crimean Tatars and other deported nationalities permanent.

5 March 1953 — Stalin dies.

1954-1956 — Soviet government dismantles "special settlement" regime.

28 April 1956 — Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issues Ukaz 136/142 releasing remaining Crimean Tatars from "special settlement" restrictions.

September 1956 — First appeals by Crimean Tatar activists to Soviet government.

24 November 1956 — Soviet government establishes policy of preventing Crimean Tatar return to Crimea in response to appeals.

5 January 1957 — Meeting between 50 Crimean Tatar Communist Party members and Central Committee of Communist Party Uzbekistan.

July 1957 — Petition with 6,000 signatures sent to Soviet leadership.

17 March 1958 — Crimean Tatar delegation meets with Mikoyan and presents him with petition bearing 16,000 signatures.

10-11 October 1961 — First post-Stalin political trial of Crimean Tatars takes place in Tashkent. Defendants receive 7 and 5 years in strict regime camp.

December 1961 — Union of Crimean Tatar Youth formed in Tashkent.

10-13 April 1962 — Marat Omerov and Seit-Amza Umerov of the Union sentenced to four and three years imprisonment respectively.

1964 — Crimean Tatars establish permanent lobby in Moscow.

4 August 1965 — Crimean Tatars stage demonstration in Bekabad, Uzbekistan.

11 September 1965 — Two participants in Bekabad demonstration sentenced to a year imprisonment each and a third receives six months.

1966-1967 — Uzbek courts sentence 59 Crimean Tatar activists to imprisonment.

28 March 1966 — A delegation of 65 Crimean Tatars delivers a 33-page petition with over 130,000 signatures attached to the 23rd Congress of the CPSU.

12 May 1966 — Mustafa Jemilev sentenced to 18 months in a camp.

8-18 October 1966 — Crimean Tatars stage mass demonstrations in Andijan, Fergana, Margilan, Yangiyul, Tashkent, Angren and Bekabad Uzbekistan.

22 April 1967 — Crimean Tatars stage demonstration in Andijan, Uzbekistan.

21 July 1967 — KGB chief Andropov, Procurator Rudenko, Minister of Interior Schchelokov and Secretary of Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Georgadze meet with delegation of 20 Crimean Tatars.

5 September 1967 — Presidium of Supreme Soviet issues decree 493 "On Citizens of Tatar Nationality Formerly Living in Crimea" lifting charges of treason leveled against whole Crimean Tatar population in 1944.

5 September 1967 - 15 July 1968 — Over 12,000 Crimean Tatars return to Crimea. Soviet authorities only grant 18 families and 13 individuals residency permits. Rest expelled and 17 tried for violating passport laws.

24 February 1968 — First appeal outside the USSR on Crimean Tatars sent to Presidium of the Consultative Conference of Communist Parties in Budapest.

17 March 1968 — Aleksei Kosterin's 72nd birthday party at Altai Restaurant, Moscow, where Petro Grigorenko delivered his important speech.

21 April 1968 — Crimean Tatars stage demonstration in Chirchik, Uzbekistan.

15-17 May 1968 — KGB rounds up and expels over 300 Crimean Tatars from Moscow.

14 November 1968 — Aleksei Kosterin's funeral, 23 Crimean Tatars attend.

21-22 April 1969 — Crimean Tatars stage large demonstrations in Samarkand, Margilan, Fergana and Bekabad Uzbekistan. Over 3,300 people participate.

6 June 1969 — Five Crimean Tatars hold demonstration in Mayakovsky Square, Moscow on second day of World Conference of Communist and Workers Parties.

12-16 — January 1970 — Mustafa Jemilev and Il'ia Gabai tried in Tashkent and sentenced to three years in "strict regime" camps.

March 1971 — Crimean Tatars gather over 60,000 signatures for appeal to 24th Congress of the CPSU.

January 1974 — Sakharov writes appeal to Waldheim on plight of Crimean Tatars.

May 1974 — Fikret Yurter, Mebeyyin Batu Altan and Emmanual Stein conduct five day Hunger strike in front of the UN.

22 June 1974 — Mustafa Jemilev sentenced to one year in camp.

14-15 April 1975 — Mustafa Jemilev tried and sentenced to 2.5 years in strict regime camp in Omsk.

August 1975 — Crimean Tatars gather over 20,000 signatures for appeal to 25th Congress of the CPSU.

18 May 1976 — First document issued by the Moscow Helsinki Group condemns incarceration of Mustafa Jemilev.

10 November 1976 — Moscow Helsinki Group issues first report on the Soviet government's discrimination against Crimean Tatars.

4 November 1977 — Moscow Helsinki Group issues second report on Soviet discrimination against Crimean Tatars. The report describes the deportations as genocide and compares Moscow's refusal to allow the Crimean Tatars to live in their homeland to apartheid.

8 February 1978 — Mustafa Jemilev again arrested.

22 March 1978 — Soviet court confirms new sentence of 1.5 years imprisonment and four years exile for Mustafa Jemilev.

28 June 1978 — Musa Mamut commits suicide by self-immolation.

4 July 1978 — Sakharov writes appeal to Brezhnev regarding Crimean Tatars.

11 - 12 April 1987 — Crimean Tatars hold mass meeting in Tashkent.

3 and 23 July 1987 — Over 2,000 Crimean Tatars demonstrate in Red Square, Moscow.

29 April-2 May 1989 — OKND (Organization of Crimean Tatar National Movement) founded and Mustafa Jemilev elected chairman.

14 November 1989 — Supreme Soviet issues decree "On Recognizing the Illegal and Criminal Repressive Acts Against Peoples Subjected to Forcible Resettlement and Ensuring their Rights."

1989-1994 — Over 220,000 Crimean Tatars, nearly half the population, return to Crimea from exile in Uzbekistan.

April 2004

*J. Otto Pohl, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, is the author of two books, The Stalinist Penal Sstem: A Statistical History of Soviet Represion and Terror, 1930-1953 (1997) and Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949 (1999), and numerous articles on related topics. E-mail:

See also: "And this Must be Remembered!" Stalin's Ethnic Cleansing of the Crimean Tatars by the same author.

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