Crimean Tatars to swap Uzbek for Ukraine passports


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Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 08:21:08 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Crimean Tatars to swap Uzbek for Ukraine passports

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Sabirzyan <SabirzyanB@aol.com>

Crimean Tatars to swap Uzbek for Ukraine passports


SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Officials in Ukraine's
autonomous Crimea region said on Tuesday they had launched a programme
to ease naturalisation of thousands of Tatar World War Two deportees
who have returned.
 
But only about 800 of the almost 62,000 Tatars living on the Crimean
peninsula who are citizens of Uzbekistan turned up to collect the
forms required to change their citizenship under the simpler rules,
officials said.
 
"On October 19, we accepted the first documents from citizens who
arrived from Uzbekistan," Nadezhda Poyarkova, head of Crimea's
department of visas and registration, told a news conference.
 
"We expected greater activity," she said.
 
Violent Tatar protests rocked the region in the run-up to
parliamentary elections in March, in which many repatriated Tatars
were not allowed to vote.
 
About one third of Crimea's Tatar population are technically
foreigners, testimony to the political and demographic upheavals
caused by the Soviet regime and its collapse in 1991.
 
The Tatars ruled the Crimea before Russian occupation in the 18th
century. But they were accused of collaboration with German troops in
World War Two and deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef
Stalin.
 
About 250,000 have now returned to Crimea, but as citizens of former
Soviet states which declared sovereignty in 1991 or without any
citizenship at all.
 
March's violence provided added impetus to talks between Ukraine and
Uzbekistan, formerly home to the largest number of deported Tatars, on
simplifying the process of changing citizenship.
 
A deal was clinched in August and hailed by Tatar leaders, who
nevertheless say the new programme took too long to work out. They say
many people may not complete the process by the deadline at the end of
next year.
 
Tatar leaders have called for similar simplified processes to be
worked out with other countries where Tatars went to live.
 
-- 
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