Crimean Tatar Scholar Attacked, Library Shut As Pressure Mounts
A Crimean Tatar scholar says masked assailants dragged him from his car and took his passport in an attack meant to prevent him from attending a UN conference in New York.
The attack on Nadir Bekir late on September 18 came hours after Russian authorities moved to seize the Crimean Tatar assembly, the Mejlis, piling pressure on the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group that largely opposed Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine.
On September 19, the main Crimean Tatar library in the regional capital, Simferopol, announced that it is being shut down in accordance with an August government resolution to replace libraries on the peninsula with Russian state entities.
Bekir, an expert on indigenous peoples, told RFE/RL he was attacked on his way from Simferopol to the city of Dzhankoi, where he planned to board a train for Kyiv and then fly to New York.
He said a white minibus abruptly blocked his car on the highway. Four masked men emerged, pulled him from his car, forced him to the ground, and took his Ukrainian passport and mobile phone. He said one of the attackers opened his passport and told the others: “Yes, that ’s him!”
Without his passport, Bekir said he cannot leave Crimea. He believes the attack was meant to prevent him from participating in the September 22-23 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, part of the UN General Assembly.