Crimean Tatars say they will establish their own autonomous region on the Black Sea peninsula.
According to a Saturday vote by the Crimean Tatars’ assembly, the 300,000-strong Muslim minority will seek “ethnic and territorial autonomy.”
“In the life of every nation there comes a time when it must make decisions that will determine its future,” assembly leader Refat Chubarov told over 200 delegates.
Chubarov made the announcement during the second extraordinary session of the assembly in the city of Bakhchisaray in central Crimea.
“I ask you to approve … the start of political and legal procedures aimed at creating ethnic and territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatars of their historic territory of Crimea,” he said.
Head of Russia’s semi-autonomous republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov and head of Russia’s Muftis Council Ravil Gaynutdin also attended the meeting.
“I think we should get closer together, be together,” Minnikhanov said at the meeting.
Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia. This came on the heels of a referendum a day earlier, in which 96.8 percent of Crimeans voted for reunion with Russia.
On March 21, Putin signed into law documents that officially made the Black Sea peninsula part of the Russian territory despite condemnation from the West and the new Ukrainian government.
The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.
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