Staunton, October 29 – Even though only 12-15,000 Crimean Tatars were able to participate in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections and as a result only one of their number, Mustafa Cemilev, has been elected, the Tatars in occupied Crimea have great expectations from the new Verkhovna Rada, according to Nariman Celal, the deputy chairman of the Mejlis.
Not only were the elections conducted extremely well given the difficulties Ukraine now faces, he says, but the results of the vote mean that for the first time there will not be any communists in the new parliament and its majority will favor integration with Europe rather than Eurasia.
But if Crimean Tatars are overwhelmingly pleased with the outcome, Celal continues, they expect that the new Verkhovna Rada will give priority to issues related to their national community and recognize that the Crimean Tatars must be better represented in the parliament than the recent elections allowed.
Celal says that “Ukraine must review the role in general of Crimean deputies in the parliament and in particular that of the Crimean Tatars and of Mustafa Cemilev personally in Ukrainian politics.” President Petro Poroshenko has sent good signals; now, the real work needs to begin.
The deputy leader of the Mejlis says he is “certain that in the current situation it is not so much that Cemilev needs the Verkhovna Rada as the Verkhovna Rada and Ukraine need Mustafa Cemilev because we understand that the resolution of the Crimean Tatar question can occupy a worthy place in the future activity of parliament and the leadership of Ukraine in general.”
Had Crimeans and Crimean Tatars been able to take part in the elections, both would have had more representatives than they do, but the Russian occupation authorities did everything they could to prevent people from travelling beyond the peninsula to vote and would have affected outcomes inappropriately if voting had been allowed in Crimea, Celal said.
Cemilev, who was in fifth place in the Poroshenko Bloc, will be in the new parliament, but unless special arrangements are made, Refat Chubarov, who was 71st on that list, will not.
Both should be involved in the work of the Verkhovna Rada in the future, especially when it takes up Crimean Tatar issues, Celal says.