Mustafa Dzhemilev, the Ukrainian President’s Special Commissioner on Crimean Affairs, dropped by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation on May 21, 2018 to discuss the plight of Russian-occupied Crimea.  Participating in the discussion were Orest Deychakiwsky (USUF Board member), Nadia K. McConnell (USUF President), Valeriy Chaly (Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S.), Tamila Tasheva (Crimea SOS), John A. Kun (USUF Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer), William Green Miller (former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine) and his wife, Suzanne.

Mr. Dhzemilev is a revered Crimean Tatar leader.  While he was in the USA he was awarded the Democracy Service Medal by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in recognition of his lifelong struggle to defend the rights of the Crimean Tatars.

As noted by NED: “Dzhemilev, a renowned human rights activist and Soviet dissident, campaigned for the right of return of the Crimean Tatars following their deportation under Stalin. As a result, he spent 15 years in prison camps in the USSR and undertook what remains the longest hunger strike on record – 300 days.”

During the NED awards ceremony Jorgan Andrews, Director of the US Department of State Office of Eastern European Affairs reiterated US support for Ukraine and rejection of the Russian occupation of Crimea.  He said that “the American people stand in solidarity with Ukraine, the people of Crimea, and the Crimean Tatars,” adding that “We continue to bear witness to the horrific violations of human rights and other injustices committed by the Russian occupiers in Crimea” and “[w]e look forward to the day when Crimea can be returned to Ukrainian control and its residents can live in peace.”  The program also featured a biographical documentary movie titled Mustafa.

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev (center) with Sen. Roger Wicker (L) and Amb. Valeriy Chaly. (Credit: Embassy of Ukraine in USA FB page).

Mr. Dzhemilev’s Washington visit also included a meeting with Senator Roger Wicker, Chairman of the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, during which the Kremlin’s human rights violations in Crimea and the importance of continued sanctions on Russia for its occupation of Crimea were discussed.  Mustafa Dzhemilev also participated in the Embassy of Ukraine screening of the documentary film “Prisoners of the Kremlin,” about Ukrainian and Crimean activists that are unjustly imprisoned in the Russian Federation or Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

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