The Ukrainian Parliament [official website] approved a resolution [press release, in Ukrainian] Thursday that recognizes the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944 as genocide. On May 18, 1944, under orders from Josef Stalin, more than 180,000 indigenous people were deported from Crimea on the grounds that the Tatar people had allegedly collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. Tatar activists in Ukraine spent years lobbying [RFE/RL report] Ukrainian authorities to recognize the Russian Federation’s actions that led to the death of an estimated 40 percent of the deportees during the journey or within a year of being exiled as a genocide. The resolution acknowledged [Ukraine Today report] that the deportations were a “conscious policy of ethnocide of the Crimean Tatar people” and named May 18 as the Ukrainian Day of Remembrance of the victims.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has continued to be a prevalent topic ever since the Crimean Annexation [JURIST backgrounder]. In September Ukrainian officials accepted [JURIST report] increased International Criminal Court jurisdiction in their territory to investigate war crimes that may have occurred since February of last year. In August a Russian military court sentenced [JURIST report] two Ukrainian activists to substantial jail time for the charge of conspiring to commit terror attacks. In March the EU committed to stand by [JURIST report] its policy of refusing to recognize Crimea’s annexation, as they purport the illegality of Russia’s referendum. In February Russian liberal political activist Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times [BBC report] in the middle of busy downtown Moscow. Nemtsov was openly politically opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its role in Ukraine, and many believe Vladimir Putin ordered [JURIST report] the killing.