BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW (Own report) – The Mejlis, a Crimean Tatar organization – banned in Russia but supported by Berlin – has announced its plans to open official representative offices in Brussels and Washington this autumn, emphasizing particularly the importance of a seat in Brussels. The Mejlis, presented in the West as the only legitimate representative body of the Crimean Tatars, is actually only representing the pro-western tendency among them, while another tendency, with pro-Russian leanings, has for years explicitly rejected its policy. This split among Crimean Tatars hails back to the final years of the Cold War, when the long-time western ally – and subsequently Mejlis Chairman – Mustafa Jemilev supported radical demands for autonomy, while pursuing a tough anti-Russian course. When, in the 1960s, Jemilev began his campaign for Crimean Tatar autonomy in the Soviet-Union, he was given western support aimed at weakening the Soviet adversary from within. At the same time, Crimean Tatars, exiled in the Federal Republic of Germany, were pursuing the same objective – “Russia’s national decomposition” – as it was referred to at the time. A Crimean Tatar, who had served as a main liaison to the Nazis, subsequently continuing his collaborationist activities in the Federal Republic of Germany, assisted them and, began in the 1950s, to also work for CIA-financed organizations in Munich.
The efforts of the Federal Republic of Germany, along with other western countries, particularly the United States, to use the Crimean Tatars for their foreign policy goals during the Cold War were based on the conditions resulting from the Tatars’ 1941 to 1944 collaboration with the Nazi occupiers. In Mai 1944, in reaction to this collaboration, the Soviet government deported some 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Central Asian regions of the Soviet Union – particularly, what is today Uzbekistan – under deplorable conditions. Numerous Tatars died during or shortly after deportation. There is no reliable count of the number of victims. In the early 1960s, Crimean Tatar activists began demanding the right of return to Crimea, in combination with the demand for political autonomy, which was of particular interest to Western powers. Aiming at weakening Moscow, western powers had already supported Ukrainian nationalists into the 1950s, fighting, with every means, for Ukraine’s secession from the Soviet Union. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Following the Soviet administration’s suppression of the Ukrainian unrest, the Crimean Tatars’ quest for autonomy offered the West a new chance to foment another hotbed of instability on the adversary’s soil.
Appealing to the West
Liaison for the Nazi-Reich
Western governments have always tried to instrumentalize exiled Crimean Tatars for their own policies – for interfering in Soviet affairs or at least for their propaganda. Edige Kirimal, who lived in the Federal Republic of Germany, was one of the most influential exiled Crimean Tatars. Born in 1911, he grew up on the Crimea and fled in the 1930s to Istanbul, where he contacted prominent Crimean Tatar exiled politicians. In late 1941, Kirimal and another exiled Crimean Tatar were passed on to Berlin by the German ambassador to Turkey, Franz von Papen, to assist in planning the collaboration on the Crimea. Kirimal remained in the Reich as the main liaison between the Nazi-regime and Crimean Tatars, headed the “Krimtatarische Leitstelle” (Crimean Tatar Central Office) and, just before the end of the war, was named “President” of a “Crimean Tatar National Committee” by his – probably – most important contact in Berlin, Gerhard von Mende. Von Mende worked in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territory, first as head of the Caucasus/Turkestan division and beginning in 1943, as head of the “Führungsgruppe III Fremde Völker” (Directorate III Foreign Peoples). He was considered the most important strategist for the political instrumentalization of Soviet linguistic minorities. He proposed their recruitment as Nazi collaborators to deploy them as auxiliary forces in the battle against Moscow. After World War II, von Mende once again placed his knowledge and networks at the disposal of the struggle against the Soviet Union – this time for the Bonn government and its new western allies.
The Nazi’s liaison, Kirimal, is one of the people with whom Mende was still cooperating. After the Second World War, Kirimal sought to make a name for himself as a publicist on themes concerning Crimean Tatars. Mende promoted and wrote the preface to his first major work entitled “The National Struggle of the Crimean Turks” that he published in 1952. In late 1952, “Der Spiegel,” reflected in a publicity review of the work, “in his book,” Kirimal, touches on “the ‘timeless’ dilemma of every adversary of Russia: how can this collossus be brought down? (…) Should ‘Moscow’s centralism’ be accepted or rather the centrifugal nationalist forces within the Russian realm be promoted?” Kirimal obviously tended to favor the second approach, as did Mende. “Kirimal’s book was prefaced by Prof. Gerhard von Mende, the advisor of Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories,” “Der Spiegel” continued. “Von Mende was (and evidently remained) a supporter of ‘Russia’s national decomposition,’ which means the dismemberment of this huge empire into as many national mini-states as possible.” Mendes’ protégé, Kirimal, had been working in line with this strategy, since the 1950s for the Munich-based, CIA-financed “Radio Free Europe,” alongside various other activists from Mendes’ “ethnic minorities” networks. Later he worked for the Munich-based – also CIA-financed – “Institute for USSR Studies,” where he published the journal “Dergi.” Munich’s anti-communist exile circles, in which Kirimal was circulating, included Ukrainian fascists  – a milieu with which Crimean Tatars in the Jemilev entourage were recently cooperating to blockade the Crimean Peninsula. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)
The Split among Crimean Tatars
No Longer a Majority
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Mejlis was much more popular than the NDKT among Crimea’s Tatars, but times have changed. The “Ukraine Analysen,” a publication of the University of Bremen, noted that by late 2010, Mejlis “support was dwindling” among Crimean Tatars, and “new actors,” who no longer agree with the Mejlis’ “leadership role” have “appeared on the political stage.” The fact that the organization has “lost its monopolizing position” and “no longer rallies the support of the majority of Crimean Tatars” is “generally ignored in the West.” “Ukraine Analysen” makes reference to the Milli Firqa Party, founded in 2006 under the auspices of the NDKT, which “from the beginning … took a pro-Russian stand” – contrary to Mejlis, which accepts support from Turkey and promoted the forces behind the Orange Revolution. Over the years, this polarization among Crimea’s Tatars has been growing stronger. In May 2013 – even before the Maidan protests began – the Jamestown Foundation in the USA reported on escalating tensions between the two factions.