SIMFEROPOL (Sputnik) — Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group that currently accounts for an estimated 13 percent — or about 260,000 people — of the Crimean population. On May 18, 1944, the Soviet government ordered the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia.
After Crimea decided in a referendum to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia in March 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree rehabilitating ethnic minorities that suffered under the rule of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, including Crimean Tatars.
"A Turkish delegation has arrived in Crimea. It includes 10 representatives of the Crimean Tatar diaspora that live in Turkey. This is their first visit to Crimea after the [region’s] reunification with Russia on the occasion of the memorial day of the victims of the deportation of Crimean Tatars," Smirnov said.
The delegation is headed by Unver Sel, the head of the Federation of Crimean Tatar Communities of Turkey.
During the visit, the delegation is expected to participate in the international conference on Cooperation of Crimean Tatar Public Organizations of the Republic of Crimea With Compatriots Abroad, as well as to take part in the events dedicated to the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from the peninsula.
"We are hoping for development and strengthening of cooperation with the diasporas of Crimean Tatars around the world," Smirnov said.