Crimean Tatars

Crimean Tatars or Crimeans (Crimean Tatar: Qırımtatarlar, Къырымтатарлар or qırımlar, къырымлар; Turkish: Kırım Tatarları or kırımlar; Russian: Крымские Татары or крымцы; Ukrainian: Кримськi Татари or кримці) are a Turkic ethnic group, who are indigenous people of Crimea and formed in the Crimean Peninsula during the 13th–17th centuries, primarily from Cumans that appeared in Crimea in the 10th century, with strong contributions from all the peoples who ever inhabited Crimea[10]. Since 2014 Crimean Tatars have been officially recognized as an indigenous people of Ukraine.[11] Crimean Tatars are also listed among the indigenous peoples of Russia.[12]

Crimean Tatars constituted the majority of Crimea's population from the time of its ethnogenesis until the mid-19th century, and the relative largest ethnic population until the end of the 19th century.[13][14] Almost immediately after the retaking of Crimea from Axis forces, in May 1944, the USSR State Defense Committee ordered the removal of all of the Tatar population from Crimea, including the families of Crimean Tatars serving in the Soviet Army – in trains and boxcars to Central Asia, primarily to Uzbekistan. Starting in 1967, some were allowed to return to Crimea, and in 1989 the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union condemned the removal of Crimean Tatars from their motherland as inhumane and lawless. Today, Crimean Tatars constitute approximately 12% of the population of Crimea. There remains a large diaspora of Crimean Tatars in Turkey and Uzbekistan.

Crimean Tatars
Qırımtatarlar, qırımlar
Къырымтатарлар, къырымлар
Flag of the Crimean Tatar people
Flag of the Crimean Tatars
Regions with significant populations
 United States7,000
 Ukraine (excl. Crimea)30,000–60,000
Crimean Tatar, Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Dobrujan Tatars, Nogais, Volga Tatars, Turkish people, Krymchaks


In the latest Ukrainian census, in 2001, 248,200 Ukrainian citizens identified themselves as Crimean Tatars with 98% (or about 243,400) of them living in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.[15][16] An additional 1,800 citizens (or about 0.7% of those that identified themselves as Crimean Tatars) live in the city of Sevastopol, also on the Crimean peninsula, but outside the border of the autonomous republic.[15]

About 150,000 remain in exile in Central Asia, mainly in Uzbekistan. The official number of Crimean Tatars in Turkey is 150,000 with some Crimean Tatar activists estimating a figure as high as 6 million. The activists reached this number by taking one million Tatar immigrants to Turkey as a starting point and multiplying this number by the birth rate in the span of the last hundred years.[5] Crimean Tatars in Turkey mostly live in Eskişehir Province, descendants of those who emigrated in the late 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.[5] In the Dobruja region straddling Romania and Bulgaria, there are more than 27,000 Crimean Tatars: 24,000 on the Romanian side, and 3,000 on the Bulgarian side.

Sub-ethnic groups

The Crimean Tatars are subdivided into three (or sometimes four) sub-ethnic groups:

  • the Tats (not to be confused with the Iranic Tat people, living in the Caucasus region) who used to inhabit the mountainous Crimea before 1944 (about 55%) predominantly are Tatarized Greeks, Goths and other people, as Tats in Crimea also were called Hellenic Urum people (Crimean Greeks) who were deported by the Imperial Russia to the area around Mariupol;[17]
  • the Yalıboyu who lived on the southern coast of the peninsula (about 30%) partially also the Crimean Turks,[17]
  • the Noğay or Mangit[18] (not to be confused with Nogai people, living now in Southern Russia) – former inhabitants of the Crimean steppe (about 15%).[17]
  • the Ortayulak (central Crimean).[17]

Historians suggest that inhabitants of the mountainous parts of Crimea lying to the central and southern parts (the Tats), and those of the Southern coast of Crimea (the Yalıboyu) were the direct descendants of the Pontic Greeks, Armenians, Scythians, Ostrogoths (Crimean Goths) and Kipchaks along with the Cumans while the latest inhabitants of the northern steppe represent the descendants of the Nogai Horde of the Black Sea nominally subjects of the Crimean Khan.[19][20] It is largely assumed that the Tatarization process that mostly took place in the 16th century brought a sense of cultural unity through the blending of the Greeks, Armenians, Italians and Ottoman Turks of the southern coast, Goths of the central mountains, and Turkic-speaking Kipchaks and Cumans of the steppe and forming of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group.[21] However, the Cuman language is considered the direct ancestor of the current language of the Crimean Tatars with possible incorporations of the other languages like Crimean Gothic.[22][23][24][25]

Another theory suggests Crimean Tatars trace their origins to the waves of ancient people, Scythians, Greeks, Goths, Italians and Armenians.[26] When the Golden Horde invaded Crimea in the 1230s, they then mixed with populations which had settled in Eastern Europe, including Crimea since the seventh century: Tatars, but also Mongols and other Turkic groups (Khazars, Pechenegs, Cumans, and Kipchaks), as well as the ancient.[27]

The Mongol conquest of the Kipchaks led to a merged society with the Mongol ruling class over a Kipchak speaking population which came to be known as Tatar and which eventually absorbed other ethnicities on the Crimean peninsula like Armenians, Italians, Greeks, and Goths to form the modern day Crimean Tatar people- up to the Soviet deportation, the Crimean Tatars could still differentiate among themselves between Tatar Kipchak Nogays and the "Tat" descendants of Tatarized Goths and other Turkified peoples.[28]

Goths, Gypsies, and Greeks were assumed to be some of the ancestors of the Tatars on the coast of Crimea, while there were "mixed hill Tatars" and finally "Asiatic" steppe Tatars.[29] Italians and Greeks mixed with the coastal Crimean Tatars.[30]

Today, Crimean Tatars are often considered as the indigenous peoples of the Crimean peninsula.



Crimea has experienced many migratory and conquering races in its history. The Turkic Kipchaks had followed the Goths, Huns, Sarmatians and Scythians in Crimea. The Mongols who invaded the Russian principalities under Batu Khan, conducted the Kipchaks of south Ukrainain plains into their forces in 1240s. This amalgam of Mongols and Kipchkaks which gradually converted to Islam became known as "Tatars". The Tatars of Crimea and the neighboring steppes continued their domination even with the decline of Mongol rule in 1300s. The liberation of Russia from the Golden Horde in 1480 too couldn't end their power and by this time the Tatar Giray dynasty had already established an independent khanate in Crimea and neighboring territory.[31]

Crimean Khanate

Szigetvar 1566
The Ottoman campaign in Hungary in 1566, Crimean Tatars as vanguard, a Persian style miniature

The Crimean Tatars emerged as a nation at the time of the Crimean Khanate, an Ottoman vassal state during the 15th to 18th centuries and one of the great centers of slave trade to the Ottoman Empire. The Turkic-speaking population of Crimea had mostly adopted Islam already in the 14th century, following the conversion of Ozbeg Khan of the Golden Horde.[32] By the time of the first Russian invasion of Crimea in 1736, the Khan's archives and libraries were famous throughout the Islamic world, and under Khan Krym-Girei the city of Simferopol was endowed with piped water, sewerage and a theatre where Molière was performed in French, while the port of Gözleve stood comparison with Rotterdam and Bakhchysarai, the capital, was described as Europe's cleanest and greenest city.[33]

Until the beginning of the 18th century, Crimean Tatars were known for frequent, at some periods almost annual, devastating raids into Ukraine and Russia.[34] For a long time, until the late 18th century, the Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East which was the most important basis of its economy.[35] One of the most important trading ports and slave markets was Kefe.[34] Slaves and freedmen formed approximately 75% of the Crimean population.[36]

Some researchers estimate that altogether up to 3 million people were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate.[37][38] In retaliation, the lands of Crimean Tatars were being raided by Zaporozhian Cossacks,[39] armed Ukrainian horsemen, who defended the steppe frontier – Wild Fields – against Tatar slave raids and often attacked and plundered the lands of Ottoman Turks and Crimean Tatars. The Don Cossacks and Kalmyk Mongols also managed to raid Crimean Tatars' land.[40] The last recorded major Crimean raid, before those in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74) took place during the reign of Peter the Great (1682–1725).[39] However, Cossack raids continued after that time; Ottoman Grand Vizier complained to the Russian consul about raids to Crimea and Özi in 1761.[39] In 1769 one last major Tatar raid, which took place during the Russo-Turkish War, saw the capture of 20,000 slaves.[35]

In the Russian Empire

Carlo Bossoli Khanpalast von Bachcisaraj 1857
The Crimean Khan's Palace in Bakhchysaray, 1857, by Carlo Bossoli

The Russo-Turkish War (1768–74) resulted in the defeat of the Ottomans by the Russians, and according to the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) signed after the war, Crimea became independent and the Ottomans renounced their political right to protect the Crimean Khanate. After a period of political unrest in Crimea, Russia violated the treaty and annexed the Crimean Khanate in 1783. After the annexation, the wealthier Tatars, who had exported wheat, meat, fish and wine to other parts of the Black Sea, began to be expelled and to move to the Ottoman Empire. Further expulsions followed in 1812 for fear of the reliability of the Tatars in the face of Napoleon's advance. Particularly, the Crimean War of 1853–1856, the laws of 1860–63, the Tsarist policy and the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) caused an exodus of the Tatars; 12,000 boarded Allied ships in Sevastopol to escape the destruction of shelling, and were branded traitors by the Russian government.[33] Of total Tatar population 300,000 of the Taurida Governorate about 200,000 Crimean Tatars emigrated.[41] Many Crimean Tatars perished in the process of emigration, including those who drowned while crossing the Black Sea. Today the descendants of these Crimeans form the Crimean Tatar diaspora in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

Крымские татары. Мулла
Crimean Tatars and a mullah c. 1862

Ismail Gasprali (1851–1914) was a renowned Crimean Tatar intellectual, influenced by the nationalist movements of the period, whose efforts laid the foundation for the modernization of Muslim culture and the emergence of the Crimean Tatar national identity. The bilingual Crimean Tatar-Russian newspaper Terciman-Perevodchik he published in 1883–1914, functioned as an educational tool through which a national consciousness and modern thinking emerged among the entire Turkic-speaking population of the Russian Empire.[33] His New Method (Jadid) schools, numbering 350 across the peninsula, helped create a new Crimean Tatar elite.

The educated "Crimean Tatars" during this period refused the appellation of "Tatars" given to them by the Turks (which however in earlier times had also been used natively). They wished to be known simply as "Turks", and their language as "Turkish" (the Crimean Tatar language had indeed been substantially influenced by Ottoman Turkish).[42]

After the Russian Revolution of 1917 this new elite, which included Noman Çelebicihan and Cafer Seydamet proclaimed the first democratic republic in the Islamic world, named the Crimean People's Republic on 26 December 1917. However, this republic was short-lived and abolished by the Bolshevik uprising in January 1918.

In the Soviet Union (1917–1991)

Crimean Tatar 1939-num
Percentage of Crimean Tatars by region in Crimea according to 1939 Soviet census
Crimean Tatar 2001-num
Percentage of Crimean Tatars by region in Crimea according to 2001 Ukrainian census

Soviet policies on the peninsula led to widespread starvation in 1921. More than 100,000 Tatars, Russians, Ukrainians and other inhabitants of the peninsula starved to death,[43] and tens of thousands of Tatars fled to Turkey or Romania.[44] Thousands more were deported or killed during the collectivization in 1928–29.[44] The Soviet government's "collectivization" policies led to a major nationwide famine in 1931–33. During Stalin's Great Purge, statesmen and intellectuals such as Veli Ibraimov and Bekir Çoban-zade (1893–1937), were imprisoned or executed on various charges.[44]

In May 1944, the entire Crimean Tatar population of Crimea was exiled to Central Asia, mainly to Uzbekistan, on the orders of Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Chairman of the USSR State Defense Committee. Although a great number of Crimean Tatar men served in the Red Army and took part in the partisan movement in Crimea during the war, the existence of the Tatar Legion in the Nazi army and the collaboration of Crimean Tatar religious and political leaders with Hitler during the German occupation of Crimea provided the Soviet leadership with justification for accusing the entire Crimean Tatar population of being Nazi collaborators. In actuality, much of this is Soviet denialism as the persecution of "suspect nations" and most of the genocide of the Crimean Tatars preceded the war, while statements justifying it appear after the war – as the threat of war heightened Stalin’s perception of marginal and politically suspect populations as the potential source of an uprising in case of invasion. He began to plan for the preventive elimination of such potential recruits for a mythical “fifth column of wreckers, terrorists and spies.” (Hagenloh, 2000; Shearer, 2003). Tatar historian Alan Fisher has said that between 1917 and 1933, 150,000 Tatars—about 50% of the population at the time—either were killed or forced out of Crimea.[45] According to Yitzhak Arad, "In January 1942 a company of Tatar volunteers was established in Simferopol under the command of Einsatzgruppe 11. This company participated in anti-Jewish manhunts and murder actions in the rural regions."[46]

Some modern researchers argue that Crimea's geopolitical position fueled Soviet perceptions of Crimean Tatars as a potential threat.[47] This belief is based in part on an analogy with numerous other cases of deportations of non-Russians from boundary territories, as well as the fact that other non-Russian populations, such as Greeks, Armenians and Bulgarians were also removed from Crimea.

All 240,000 Crimean Tatars were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment, on 17–18 May 1944 as "special settlers" to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and other distant parts of the Soviet Union.[48] This event is called Sürgün in the Crimean Tatar language; the few who escaped were shot on sight or drowned in scuttled barges, and within months half their number had died of cold, hunger, exhaustion and disease.[33] Many of them were re-located to toil as forced labourers in the Soviet GULAG system.[49]

Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea and to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. Crimean Tatars, having a definite tradition of non-communist political dissent, succeeded in creating a truly independent network of activists, values and political experience.[50] Crimean Tatars, led by the Crimean Tatar National Movement Organization,[51] were not allowed to return to Crimea from exile until the beginning of the Perestroika in the mid-1980s.

After Ukrainian independence

Today, more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland, struggling to re-establish their lives and reclaim their national and cultural rights against many social and economic obstacles.

Yuri Osmanov and NDKT

A huge role in the organization of the life of the Crimean Tatars in the Crimea was played by their national leader, Yuri Osmanov. In September 1991, Yury Osmanov, as representative of the Crimean Tatar people, was included in one of the working groups of the Commission for drafting the Constitution of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Section II “Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities of a Person and Citizen”).[52]

In the fall of 1991, Yury Osmanov founded the newspaper, the information bulletin of the National Movement of the Crimean Tatars “Areket”, which editor was until the last days of his life.

In February 1993, Yury Osmanov published an article in the newspaper "Krymskie Izvestia", “Three Questions That Will Avoid Black Reproduction”, where he predicted an acute problem of providing returning Crimean Tatars with land and suggested ways to prevent the complication of social and interethnic relations in Crimea.[53]

In the autumn of 1993, a certain shift was outlined in the situation around NDCT - a group of NDTC members headed by Osmanov left for Turkey, where they met with representatives of the local numerous and economically strong Crimean Tatar diaspora. According to his relatives, Osmanov returned from a trip happy and inspired by what he managed to find among like-minded people in the diaspora.[54]

In Turkey, however, Osmanov found out about the interviews that shortly before Mustafa Dzhemilev gave two Turkish newspapers “Hurriyet” and “Sabah”. It turned out that while Osmanov and his organization in Crimea were working to eliminate ethnic conflicts of any kind, the leader of the Mejlis told the media about the "inevitability of armed clashes in Crimea between the Crimean Tatars and the Russian population," about the readiness of the Crimean Tatars to take up arms and actually called on the Turkish authorities to intervene. Osmanov went to the editorial offices of the newspapers who interviewed Dzhemilev and protested against such publications. Moreover, he addressed the President of the Republic of Turkey, Süleyman Demirel[55]:

The Mejlis was called upon to aggravate the non-Tatar population in Crimea with hysterical, overtly provocative and absolutely useless "physical" actions and scandals. All these actions are adventures that were played out ... exclusively for the own interests of the empire or plans for great national and political intrigues ... The Mejlis is trade and the arrangement of commercial affairs on the dramatic position of the people

In November of the same year, new trips and meetings of Osmanov in Turkey and the Crimea were planned[56], but they were no longer destined to take place. He was severely beaten at night by order of political opponents, after which he died in hospital. Since then, the Mejlis remained the only representative of the Crimean Tatar people for some years.


In 1991, the Crimean Tatar leadership founded the Kurultai, or Parliament, to act as a representative body for the Crimean Tatars which could address grievances to the Ukrainian central government, the Crimean government, and international bodies.[57] Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is the executive body of the Kurultai.

Since the 1990s till October 2013, the political leader of the Crimean Tatars and the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was former Soviet dissident Mustafa Djemilev. Since October 2013 the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is Refat Chubarov.[58]

Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, Russian authorities declared the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to be an extremist organization, and banned it in 26 April 2016.[59]

New Milliy Firqa

In 2006, a Crimean Tatar party was created, which was supposed to form the opposition to the Mejlis.[60] It took the name of the historical party of Crimean Tatars which was created in 1917 and declared itself to be the successor of the ideas of Yuri Osmanov and NDKT.

2014 Crimean crisis

Following news of Crimea's independence referendum organized with the help of Russia on 16 March 2014, the Kurultai leadership voiced concerns of renewed persecution, as commented by a U.S. official before the visit of a UN human rights team to the peninsula.[61] At the same time, Rustam Minnikhanov, the president of Tatarstan was dispatched to Crimea to quell Crimean Tatars' concerns and to point out that "in the 23 years of Ukraine's independence the Ukrainian leaders have been using Crimean Tatars as pawns in their political games without doing them any tangible favors". The issue of Crimean Tatar persecution by Russia has since been raised regularly on an international level.[62][63]

On 18 March 2014, the day Crimea was annexed by Russia, and Crimean Tatar was declared one of the three official languages of Crimea. It was also announced that Crimean Tatars will be required to relinquish coastal lands on which they squatted since their return to Crimea in early 1990s and be given land elsewhere in Crimea. Crimea stated it needed the relinquished land for "social purposes", since part of this land is occupied by the Crimean Tatars without legal documents of ownership.[64] The situation was caused by the inability of the USSR (and later Ukraine) to give back to the Tatars the land owned before deportation, once they or their descendants returned from Central Asia (mainly Uzbekistan). As a consequence, Crimean Tatars settled as squatters, occupying land that was and is still not legally registered.

Vladimir Putin's meeting with representatives of the Crimean Tatars 02.jpeg
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with representatives of the Crimean Tatars, 16 May 2014

Some Crimean Tatars fled to Mainland Ukraine due to the Crimean crisis - reportedly around 2000 by 23 March.[65] On 29 March 2014, an emergency meeting of the Crimean Tatars representative body, the Kurultai, voted in favor of seeking "ethnic and territorial autonomy" for Crimean Tatars using "political and legal" means. The meeting was attended by the Head of the Republic of Tatarstan and the chair of the Russian Council of Muftis.[66] Decisions as to whether the Tatars will accept Russian passports or whether the autonomy sought would be within the Russian or Ukrainian state have been deferred pending further discussion.[67]

The Mejlis works in emergency mode in Kiev.[68]

During occupation of Crimea by Russian Federation, Crimean Tatars are reportedly persecuted and driscriminated by Russian authorities, including cases of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances by Russian security forces and courts.[69][70][71]

On June 12 2018, Ukraine lodged a memorandum consisting of 17,500 pages of text in 29 volumes to the UN's International Court of Justice about racial discrimination against Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities in occupied Crimea and state financing of terrorism by Russian Federation in Donbass.[72][73]

See also


^ Controlled and administrated by the Russian Federation as Crimean Federal District: Republic of Crimea and federal city of Sevastopol. Recognized as a part of Ukraine by most of the international community as Autonomous Republic of Crimea and city with special status Sevastopol. Northern part of the Arabat Spit is a part of the Kherson Oblast and is not a subject of territorial dispute.


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  57. ^ Ziad, Waleed; Laryssa Chomiak (20 February 2007). "A Lesson in Stifling Violent Extremism: Crimea's Tatars have created a promising model to lessen ethnoreligious conflict". CS Monitor. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  58. ^ "Chairman". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
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  61. ^ "U.N. human rights team aims for quick access to Crimea - official". Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  62. ^ "UNPO: Crimean Tatars: Turkey Officially Condemns Persecution by Russia". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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  64. ^ Temirgaliyev, Rustam. "Crimean Deputy Prime Minister". Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  65. ^ Trukhan, Vassyl. "Crimea's Tatars flee for Ukraine far west". Yahoo. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  66. ^ "Crimean Tatars' want autonomy after Russia's seizure of peninsula". Reuters.
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  68. ^ "UNPO: Crimean Tatars: Mejlis Continues Work in Emergency Mode from Kiev". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  69. ^ "Crimea: Persecution of Crimean Tatars Intensifies | Human Rights Watch".
  70. ^ "UN documents torture and arrests of Crimean Tatars by Russia - 12.12.2017 14:44 — Ukrinform News".
  71. ^ "UN accuses Russia of multiple human rights abuses". The Independent. 16 November 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  72. ^ "UAWire - Ukraine files memorandum with UN Court of Justice containing evidence of Russia's involvement in 'financing of terrorism'".
  73. ^ "Ukraine submits to ICJ evidence of Russian crimes in Crimea, Donbas | UNIAN".

Further reading

  • Conquest, Robert. 1970. The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities (London: Macmillan). (ISBN 0-333-10575-3)
  • Fisher, Alan W. 1978. The Crimean Tatars. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press. (ISBN 0-8179-6661-7)
  • Fisher, Alan W. 1998. Between Russians, Ottomans and Turks: Crimea and Crimean Tatars (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1998). (ISBN 975-428-126-2)
  • Nekrich, Alexander. 1978. The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War (New York: W. W. Norton). (ISBN 0-393-00068-0)
  • Quelquejay, Lemercier. "The Tatars of the Crimea, a retrospective summary." Central Asian Review 16#1 (1968): 15-25.
  • Uehling, Greta (June 2000). "Squatting, self-immolation, and the repatriation of Crimean Tatars". Nationalities Papers. 28 (2): 317–341. doi:10.1080/713687470.
  • Williams, Brian Glyn. "The hidden ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Soviet Union: The exile and repatriation of the Crimean Tatars." Journal of Contemporary History (2002): 323-347. in JSTOR
  • Williams, Brian Glyn. "The Crimean Tatar exile in Central Asia: a case study in group destruction and survival." Central Asian Survey 17.2 (1998): 285-317.
  • Williams, Brian Glyn. "The Ethnogenesis of the Crimean Tatars. An Historical Reinterpretation" Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2001) 11#3 pp. 329–348 in JSTOR
  • Williams, Brian G., The Crimean Tatars: The Diaspora Experience and the Forging of a Nation, Leyden: Brill, 2001.

Other languages

  • Vozgrin, Valery, 2013, Istoriya krymskykh tatar ((in Russian) Valery Vozgrin "Исторические судьбы крымских татар"), Simferopol (four volumes).
  • Smirnov V D, 1886, Krymskoe khanstvo
  • Campana (Aurélie), Dufaud (Grégory) and Tournon (Sophie) (ed.), Les Déportations en héritage. Les peuples réprimés du Caucase et de Crimée, hier et aujourd'hui, Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2009.

External links

Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire

The territory of Crimea, previously controlled by the Crimean Khanate, was annexed by the Russian Empire on 19 April [O.S. 8 April] 1783. The period before the annexation was marked by Russian interference in Crimean affairs, a series of revolts by Crimean Tatars, and Ottoman ambivalence. The annexation began 134 years of rule by the Russian Empire, which was ended by the revolution of 1917.

After changing hands several times during the Russian Civil War, Crimea was part of the Russian Soviet Republic from 1921 to 1954, and then was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR, which became independent Ukraine in 1991–92. The Russian Federation annexed Crimea in March 2014, though that annexation is not recognised internationally.


Bakhchysarai (Ukrainian: Бахчисарáй; Crimean Tatar: Bağçasaray; Russian: Бахчисарáй; Turkish: Bahçesaray; Persian: باغچه سرای‎ Bāghche Sarāy) is a city in central Crimea, a territory recognized by a majority of countries as part of Ukraine and annexed by Russia as the Republic of Crimea. It is the administrative center of the Bakhchysarai Raion (district), as well as the former capital of the Crimean Khanate. Its main landmark is Hansaray, the only extant palace of the Crimean Khans, currently opened to tourists as a museum. Population: 27,448 (2014 Census).

Crimean People's Republic

The Crimean People's Republic (Crimean Tatar: Qırım Halq Cumhuriyeti) (Russian: Крымская народная республика) existed from December 1917 to January 1918 in the Crimean Peninsula, a territory currently disputed between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Crimean People’s Republic was the first Turkic and Muslim democratic republic in the world. In its founding, the Crimean People's Republic was one of many short-lived attempts to create new states after the Russian Revolution of 1917 had caused the Russian Empire to collapse.

Crimean Tatar cuisine

The Crimean Tatar cuisine is primarily the cuisine of the Crimean Tatars, who live on the Crimean Peninsula.

The traditional cuisine of the Crimean Tatars derives basically from the same roots as the cuisine of the Volga Tatars, although unlike the Volga Tatars they do not eat horse meat and do not drink mare’s milk (kymyz). However, the Crimean Tatars adopted many Uzbek dishes during their exile in Central Asia since 1944, and these dishes have been absorbed into Crimean Tatar national cuisine after their return to Crimea. Uzbek samsa, laghman, and plov (pilaf) are sold in most Tatar roadside cafes in Crimea as national dishes. Uzbek flatbread, nan (or lepyoshka in Russian), is also a staple among Crimean Tatars.

Crimean Tatar diaspora

The Crimean Tatar diaspora dates back to the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783, after which Crimean Tatars emigrated in a series of waves spanning the period from 1783 to 1917. The diaspora was largely the result of the destruction of their social and economic life as a consequence of integration into the Russian Empire.

The Soviet Union brought about the final dispersal of Crimean Tatars in 1944, in the midst of World War II, when it deported all Tatars remaining in the Crimea to Central Asia. This population is considered an exiled community rather than a diaspora.

Crimean Tatar language

Crimean Tatar (qırımtatar tili, къырымтатар тили), also called Crimean Turkic or simply Crimean (qırım tili, къырым тили), is a Kipchak Turkic language spoken in Crimea and the Crimean Tatar diasporas of Uzbekistan, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as small communities in the United States and Canada. It should not be confused with Tatar proper, spoken in Tatarstan and adjacent regions in Russia; the languages are related, but belong to two different subgroups of the Kipchak languages and thus are not mutually intelligible. Crimean Tatar arrived in the 13th century with the Mongol Golden Horde, succeeding the Crimean Greek and Crimean Gothic Principality of Theodoro, and continued through the 15th–18th century Crimean Khanate period. Though only distantly related, it has been extensively influenced by nearby Oghuz Turkic languages such as Azerbaijani, Turkish and Turkmen.

Crimean Tatars in Turkey

Crimean Tatars in Turkey refers to citizens and denizens of Turkey who are, or descend from, the Tatars of Crimea.

Deportation of the Crimean Tatars

The deportation of the Crimean Tatars (Crimean Tatar Qırımtatar sürgünligi; Ukrainian Депортація кримських татар; Russian Депортация крымских татар) was the ethnic cleansing of at least 191,044 Tatars from Crimea in 18-20 May 1944. It was carried out by Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Soviet state security and secret police, acting on behalf of Joseph Stalin. Within three days, Beria's NKVD used cattle trains to deport women, children, the elderly, even Communists and members of the Red Army, to the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, several thousand kilometres away. They were one of the ten ethnicities who were encompassed by Stalin's policy of population transfer in the Soviet Union.

The deportation ostensibly was intended as collective punishment for the perceived collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi Germany. Soviet sources indict the Tatars as traitors; Tatar nationalists dispute this, maintaining the program was part of the Soviet plan to gain access to the Dardanelles and acquire territory in Turkey where the Tatars had ethnic kinsmen. Although the Nazis initially viewed the Crimean Tatars negatively, their policy changed in face of determined Soviet resistance. Many of the Soviet prisoners of war were recruited by the Wehrmacht as support units. Meanwhile, 15,000 to 20,000 Crimean Tatars were persuaded to form self-defence battalions to protect Crimean Tatar villages from attacks by Soviet partisans as well as hunting them down, though these units typically sided with whoever was stronger in an area. In addition, Muslim Committees were also formed, giving them limited self-governance. This increased the suspicion despite a similar number as the self-defence volunteers also having joined the Red Army and thousands still serving when the Soviets attacked Berlin, with numerous Crimean Tatars also joining the partisans. Majority of hiwis and their families, along with those associated with Muslim Committees eventually were evacuated. Although many Soviet officials recognised that the guilty segments of the population had been evacuated, the demand to collectively punish the Crimean Tatars grew louder.

Nearly 8,000 Crimean Tatars died during the deportation, while tens of thousands perished subsequently due to the harsh exile conditions. The Tatar exile resulted in the abandonment of 80,000 households and 360,000 acres of land. Stalin sought to eradicate all traces of the Crimean Tatars and, in subsequent censuses, forbade any mention of the ethnic group. In 1956, the new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, condemned Stalin's policies, including the deportation of various ethnicities, but did not lift the directive forbidding the return of the Crimean Tatars. They remained in Central Asia for several more decades until the Perestroika era in the late 1980s when 260,000 Tatars returned to Crimea. Their exile lasted 45 years. The ban on their return was officially declared null and void, and the Supreme Council of Crimea declared on 14 November 1989 that the deportations had been a crime.

By 2004, sufficient numbers of Tatars had returned to Crimea that they comprised 12 percent of the peninsula's population. The local authorities did not assist their return or compensate them for the land they lost. The Russian Federation, the successor state of the USSR, did not provide reparations, compensate those deported for lost property, or file legal proceedings against the perpetrators of the forced resettlement. The deportation was a crucial event in the history of the Crimean Tatars, and has come to be seen as a symbol of the plight and oppression of smaller ethnic groups by the Soviet Union. On 12 December 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament issued a resolution recognizing this event as genocide and established 18 May as the "Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Crimean Tatar genocide".

Henichesk Raion

Henichesk Raion (Ukrainian: Генічеський район) is one of the 18 administrative raions (districts) of Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine. Its administrative centre is located in the city of Henichesk. Population: 59,870 (2015 est.)The raion has a 10% Crimean Tatar minority, with the Tatar population reaching 50% in two villages. This minority is a result of a 1967 Soviet decree that restored Tatar rights lost during the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Because de jure they were not allowed to return to their Crimea homeland, some Tatars settled in nearby places, including Henichesk Raion.

Index of articles related to Crimean Tatars

Below is the list of articles related to Crimean Tatars

Islam in Ukraine

Islam is the fourth-largest religion in Ukraine, representing 0.6%–0.9% of the population. The religion has a long history in Ukraine dating back to the establishment of the Crimean Khanate in the 15th century.

Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school is the largest non-Christian religion in Ukraine, and the majority of Ukrainian Muslims are Crimean Tatars. Other Turkic peoples indigenous to Ukraine, predominantly found in South and south-east Ukraine, practice other forms of Islam. These include Volga Tatars, Azeris, North Caucasian ethnic groups and Uzbeks. In 2012 an estimated 500,000 Muslims lived in Ukraine, including 300,000 Crimean Tatars. In February 2016 Said Ismagilov, the mufti of Ummah, counted one million Muslims in Ukraine.While there is no general governing structure for Muslims in Ukraine, mono-ethnic communities in multi-ethnic regions are served by their ethnic institutions and supported by their international counterparts. The major Islamic institutions supporting communities are found in Kiev, Crimea, Simferopol and Donetsk. Independent Salafi communities are also found in Kiev and Crimea, as well as Shia communities in Kiev, Kharkiv and Luhansk.

Izyum Trail

Izyum Trail or Izyum Warpath (Russian: Изюмский шлях) is a historic route used by the Crimean Tatars in the 16th and 17th centuries to penetrate into Sloboda Ukraine and then invade Muscovite Russia. The route branched off the Muravsky Trail in the upper reaches of the Orash River and, after crossing the Seversky Donets at a convenient ford near Izyum, continued north in the direction of the Great Abatis Border. In the mid-17th century, the route fell into disuse owing to the establishment of Kharkiv and other Cossack forts in the Sloboda Ukraine.


The Krymchaks (Krymchak: sg. кърымчах – qrımçah, pl. кърымчахлар – qrımçahlar) are Jewish ethno-religious communities of Crimea derived from Turkic-speaking adherents of Orthodox Judaism. They have historically lived in close proximity to the Crimean Karaites, also Turkic but who follow Karaite Judaism.

At first krymchak was a Russian descriptive used to differentiate them from their Ashkenazi Jewish coreligionists, as well as other Jewish communities in the former Russian Empire such as the Georgian Jews, but in the second half of the 19th century this name was adopted by the Krymchaks themselves. Before this their self-designation was "Срель балалары" (Srel balalary) – literally "Children of Israel". The Crimean Tatars referred to them as zuluflı çufutlar ("Jews with pe'ot") to distinguish them from the Karaites, who were called zulufsız çufutlar ("Jews without pe'ot").

Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People

The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (Crimean Tatar: Къырымтатар Миллий Меджлиси, Qırımtatar Milliy Meclisi; Ukrainian: Меджлiс Кримськотатарського Народу, Medzhlis Krims'kotatars'koho Narodu; Russian: Меджлис

крымскотатарского народа, Medzhlis Krimskotatarskogo Naroda) is the single highest executive-representative body of the Crimean Tatars in period between sessions of the Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People.

The Mejlis is a member institution of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

The Mejlis was outlawed by Russia in 2016 for "the use of propaganda of aggression and hatred towards Russia, inciting ethnic nationalism and extremism in society" and listed as an extremist organization two years after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.

Russo-Crimean Wars

The Russo-Crimean Wars were fought between the forces of Muscovy and the Tatars of the Crimean Khanate during the 16th century over the region around Volga River.

In the 16th century, the Wild Steppes in Russia were exposed to the Tatars. During the wars, Crimean Tatars (supported by the Turkish army) invaded central Russia, devastated Ryazan, burned Moscow, and took 150,000 Russians as captives. However, the next year the Tatars were defeated in the Battle of Molodi. Despite the defeat, the Tartar raids continued. As a result, the Crimean Khanate was invaded several times, conquered in late 18th century. The Tatars eventually lost their influence in the over the regions.

The raids began shortly after the establishment of the Muscovy's buffer state, Qasim Khanate, and the domination of Moscow in the Moscow-Kazan Wars of the late 15th century.


The Tatars (; Tatar: татарлар, tatarlar; Russian: татары) are a Turkic-speaking people living mainly in Russia and other Post-Soviet countries. The name Tatar first appears in written form on the Kul Tigin monument as 𐱃𐱃𐰺 (Ta-tar). Historically, the term Tatars was applied to anyone originating from the vast Northern and Central Asian landmass then known as the Tartary, which was dominated by various mostly Turco-Mongol semi-nomadic empires and kingdoms. More recently, however, the term refers more narrowly to people who speak one of the Turkic languages.

The Mongol Empire, established under Genghis Khan in 1206, allied with the Tatars. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan's grandson Batu Khan (c. 1207–1255), the Mongols moved westwards, driving with them many of the Mongol tribes toward the plains of Kievan Rus'. The "Tatar" clan still exists among the Mongols, Hazaras and Uzbeks.The largest group by far that the Russians have called "Tatars" are the Volga Tatars, native to the Volga region (Tatarstan and Bashkortostan), who for this reason are often also simply known as "Tatars". They compose 53% of population in Tatarstan. Their language is known as the Tatar language. As of 2002 they had an estimated population around 5 million in Russia as a whole. There is a common belief that Russians and Tatars are closely intermingled, illustrated by the famous saying "scratch any Russian just a little and you will discover a Tatar underneath" and the fact that a number of noble families in Tsardom of Russia and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had Tatar origins; however, genetics show that majority of Russians form a cluster with Northern and Eastern Europeans (especially Belarusians, Ukrainians and Poles), and are relatively far from Tatar peoples. In modern-day Tatarstan, however, Russian-Tatar marriages are very common.Owing to their diverse heritage, Tatars have a vast range of appearances, ranging from East Asian to European.

Tatars of Romania

Tatars (Romanian: Tătari, Tatar: Cyrillic Татарлар, Latin Tatarlar), a Turkic-speaking ethnic group, have been present on the territory of today's Romania since the 13th century. According to the 2011 census, 20,282 people declared their nationality as Tatar, most of them being Crimean Tatars living in Constanţa County. They are the main factor of Islam in Romania.


Vetovo (Bulgarian: Ветово, pronounced [ˈvɛtuvu], locally [ˈvjatuvu]) is a town in northeastern Bulgaria, part of Ruse Province. It is the administrative centre of Vetovo Municipality, which lies in the eastern part of the area, and ranks third in population in the province after Ruse and Byala. The town is located 40 kilometres away from the provincial capital - Ruse. As of December 2009, Vetovo has a population of 4,777 inhabitants.The population of Vetovo mainly consists of Bulgarians, Turks, Crimean Tatars and Romani (both Christian and Muslim). Besides Eastern Orthodox Christians and Muslims, Vetovo also has an Evangelical congregation.[1]

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