Staunton, November 16 Muslims living in Kyiv assembled in a mosque there to commemorate the 71st anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of the Meskhetian Turks or Meskhi from their ancestral homeland in what is now the Republic of Georgia and to call attention to their continuing suffering.
Marat Rasulov, representative in Ukraine of the World Council of Meskhetian Turks, said there are only 15 families of that nationality in Kyiv, but that there are about 10,000 of them in Ukraine as a whole, with many of that number in the occupied territories of Crimea and the Donbas.
Stalin deported 115,500 Meskhetians from the Georgian SSR on November 14, 1944, apparently to get them out of the way of what he planned to be the Soviet Union’s invasion route into Turkey. They were sent as special settlers to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Only in 1956 were any allowed to return.
At that time, part of the Mesketian Turks settled in Kabardino-Balkaria and elsewhere in the North Caucasus. But most remained in Uzbekistan. That changed after 1989 when there was a pogrom of the Meskhetian Turks in the Fergana Valley who then fled from there to the RSFSR, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Later, and still unable to return to their ancestral lands, some of them resettled in Turkey. In February 2004, the Russian and American governments, working with the International Migration Organization, agreed to resettle the Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar Territory in some 60 cities of the US.
Approximately 5,000 were able to do so before that program was stopped.
The total number of Meskhetian Turks in the world is currently estimated at just over half a million.