Natalya Belitser, senior expert on – among other topics – Crimean Tatar affairs at the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Kyiv-based partner organization, the Pylyp Orlyk Insitute for Democracy (POID), was recently awarded a medal in recognition of her long-term “Services to The Crimean-Tatar People.”  Ms. Belitser, who prior to joining POID served as director of the laboratory of electronic microscopy at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, is one of Ukraine’s leading authorities on this often-neglected community which is currently experiencing an increased level of persecution and repression following Russia’s illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea.  Ms. Belitser is the author of the definitive study on the history of the Crimean Tatar struggle for recognition as the major indigenous people of Crimea from a legal perspective.  The book’s popularity led to a second edition of “Crimean Tatars as an Indigenous Peoples” being issued in 2018.  “I was very moved by this award,” said Ms. Belitser, “and I feel inspired to continue working on and promoting an issue that has significance not onlý for Ukraine but also for the international community and anyone concerned with questions of the rule of law, adherence to minority rights and peaceful conflict resolution.”

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