Ukraine Live Day 580: Tatars Block Land Route To Crimea

September 20, 2015

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.

Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs.

For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

Tatars Block Land Route To Crimea

The Crimean Tatars started a land blockade today of the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed by the Russian government last March. The Muslim minority group has been the subject of significant discrimination at the hands of the Russian-installed government, and today representatives of the group who now live in mainland Ukraine took action, blocking key roads which supply the peninsula. RFE/RL reports:

The Crimean Tatars, backed by activists of the Ukrainian ultranationalist group Right Sector, blocked the roads on September 20, saying they were aiming to prevent supplies from reaching the region to protest “numerous violations of [Crimean Tatar] rights by the Russian authorities.”

“Our goal is to end the occupation of Crimea and to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said one of the Crimean Tatar leaders, Refat Chubarov.

AFP adds additional details:

An AFP journalist at the scene reported that dozens of lorries were backed up at two crossing points into Crimea but drivers and Ukrainian officials said this was due to lengthy custom checks on the Russian side.

The demonstrators said they hoped their actions Sunday would help to ease pressure on the members of the community, secure the release of detained Tatar activists and see restrictions on Tatar media lifted.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko later said on national television that he would raise the issue of “the rights of the Tatars of Crimea” at the General Assembly of the United Nations later this month.

Journalist Oliver Carroll has been covering the events. Carroll says that despite the presence of high-profile Tatar leaders, the majority of the men who are physically blocking the road to Crimea are members of ultranationalist groups:

James Miller