KIEV/MOSCOW/BERLIN (Own report) – Leaders of the Crimean Tartars, who have been blocking the supply of electricity to Crimea for the past few days, have good contacts to the German political establishment. Years ago, Mustafa Jemilev and Refat Chubarov, who were involved in the sabotage action, had held talks on closer ties between Crimea and the West with officials of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the German government’s Representative for ethnic German immigration to Germany. Just two and a half weeks ago, they discussed with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Federica Mogherini, the “de-occupation of Crimea” and the necessary “peaceful actions, in particular with respect to power supply.” The Crimean Tartars, who are currently cooperating with fascist organizations and ultra-rightwing battalions, have been elected to the Ukrainian parliament on the electoral list of President Petro Poroshenko’s party. According to an expert, Poroshenko is “instrumentalizing” them for “his foreign policy” objectives. Jemilev also has good contacts to the US political establishment. Among the Crimean Tartars, he and Chubarov, who in Berlin enjoy exclusive recognition, are competing with Tartar Salafists – some of whom are currently fighting on the battlefields of Syria – and with Russia-oriented Tartar organizations.
Instrument of Foreign Policy
As “Ukraine-Analysen,” a publication of the University of Bremen, points out, actions such as the blockade of the Crimea, could not have been carried out without the “quiet acquiescence” of the administration in Kiev. In fact, already a year ago, President Petro Poroshenko – whose dockyard had been nationalized, when the Crimea was integrated into Russia – had “entered cooperation with the Crimean Tartar leaders.” In the October 26, 2014, Ukrainian parliamentary elections, Jemilev and Chubarov, the two last chairs of the Mejlis, the executive council of the Crimean Tartars, were elected to parliament on President Poroshenko’s party list. September 26 – with the blockade already in full swing – Poroshenko designated Jemilev to head the National Council for Anti-Corruption Policies, a presidential advisory commission. The Crimea blockade “clearly” demonstrates, writes the editor of the “Ukraine-Analysen,” that “in the Ukraine, paramilitary organizations are unofficially engaged in penal functions, permitting President Poroshenko to instrumentalize the co-opted Crimean Tartar leaders for his foreign policy objectives.”
Jemilev’s close cooperation with the West’s foreign policy establishments, where he has made strong pleas against Crimea being integrated into Russia, may have been what caused Russian repression. A good example is Jemilev’s trip to Washington in early April 2014, immediately following Crimea’s integration into Russia. The Crimean Tartar leader also had an appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he responded to the question of a threat of radicalization on the Crimean peninsula saying that he may “not be able to control younger Tartars and Islamist factions.” One of the “Islamist factions” being referred to is the Tartar organization Hizb ut Tahrir, which has sent militia to fight in Syria. When the US press asked if he can imagine “a road back to Ukraine for Crimea,” Jemilev ambiguously responded, “everyone talks about the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Where is it?” Among his interventions, also spoke at an informal session of the UN Security Council – boycotted by Russia – and April 4, 2014, held talks with Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the US State Department. He recommended that relations to Crimean Tartars be intensified – for example with scholarships, but also with direct support. The exact nature of Jemilev’s plea for “direct support” is unknown.
Partner for EU Rapprochement
Berlin, in particular, maintains close relations to leaders of pro-western Crimean Tartars. The Crimean Tartar’s Mejlis, with Refat Chubarov as chair, is a member of the ethnicist organization Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), sponsored by the federal government, as well as various regional governments in Germany. Another ethnicist organization, the Society for threatened Peoples (SFTP), awarded its “Victor Gollancz Prize” to Mustafa Jemilev in 2005. Erika Steinbach (CDU) – at the time the chair of the German League of Expellees (BdV) – held the laudatory address. The SFTP was one of the organizers of the first “German – Crimean Tartar Dialogue,” held in the summer of 2011 in Berlin. Mustafa Jemilev, chair, at the time, and his successor Refat Chubarov were among the Mejlis representatives, who traveled to Berlin for the occasion. Viktor Yanukovych had won the Ukrainian election eighteen months earlier. Berlin was searching for a means for keeping Kiev on its pro-western course. According to one report, the German – Crimean Tartar Dialogue had a double objective: on the one hand, to draw attention to the Crimean Tartars and their living conditions, and, on the other, to “search for partners …, who, at an international forum … would discuss the Crimean Tartar issue as an element … of the rapprochement to the EU structures.”