On the 25th of April the regular “court” session at the lawsuit for ban activities of the Mejlis took place in Crimea. A week earlier, Russian Ministry of Justice entered Mejlis in the register of extremist organizations. Russian authorities expect that the final ban of Mejlis and the destruction of local mejlises network will force Crimean Tatars to join official organizations actively.
Putting Mejlis out the legal framework is intended to deprive Crimean Tatars from the free possibility to participate in public life. Only some pro-government Crimean Tatar organizations give a chance for it, the base of some of them was created by the ruling Party of Regions before the annexation. However, even using the resources, provided by Crimean government, "manual" movements have not been able to achieve real support of people.
On the 16th of May, 2014, meeting of Crimean Tatars with Russian President Vladimir Putin was held in Sochi. People, who attended the meeting, bowed and scraped before new leadership and thanked for "liberation" of Crimea. Many of them made a meteoric climb career ladder then.
One of participants of this meeting was the head of a little-known organization "New Crimea" Ruslan Balbec. After successfully asked question to Putin he will replace "politically committed by Mejlis" Lenur Islyamov on the post of Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea just in two weeks.
Balbec is a person with criminal record. In 2006, he was detained in custody in Kyiv jail for embezzlement on a large scale (1.5 million hryvnia) from his first employer of the Tez tour company. In 2011, he was arrested for assaulting a police officer, committed in 2007.
Before the occupation Balbec managed to stay as a delegate of the Kurultai ("national parliament" of Crimean Tatars) and deputy assistant of Dmytro Shentsev from the Party of Regions.
Already before the occupation Balbec played on the side of "regionals", who were unable to take control under Mejlis and tried to counteract it in every possible way. Balbec opposed the activities of the representative body of Crimean Tatars and criticized Mustafa Dzhemilev. He created an opposition to the Mejlis NGO "New Generation", which was loyal to the Party of Regions and the authorities of Crimea. In 2011, "New Generation" together with organizations "Sebat" and "Milli Firka" tried to “impeach” Mejlis leaders on behalf of Crimean Tatar people, and then at the initiative of the organization Mustafa Dzhemilev was burned in effigy in Simferopol.
"So who is the enemy of Crimean Tatars and Muslims: Russia, which creates conditions for Crimean Tatars and brings people together, or Dzhemilev, who drifts apart his own people with every subsequent statement? I am sure, he (Dzhemilev – Ed.) will go down in history as a great wretch of ??the international level", – one of typical Balbec’s statements against Dzhemilev, dated by 2015.
Balbec holds the post of the chairman assistant of the "Council of Ministers" of Crimea at the service of the occupiers. His responsibilities include supervising interethnic relations in Crimea and the imaginary representation of interests of Crimean Tatar people in the "government". He makes harsh statements against Ukraine, the Mejlis leaders and Crimean political prisoners regularly.
Former head of the Genichesk District Government Administration of Kherson region Seitumer Nimetullaev was at the landmark meeting with Putin. He supported the occupation of Crimea actively, and placed Russian soldiers and the Crimean "Berkut" in his hotels in Chongar in March 2014.
Since 2003, Nimetullaev headed Genichesk department of the Party of Regions.
Nimetullaev, who is wanted by the Procuracy of Kherson region, and who is in Crimea now, tries to influence the situation in Genichesk district. So Nimetullaev is ascribed to organizing a picket in the village Ataman last week, where activists demanded that the authorities would remove roadblocks of Crimea blockade participants.
In June 2014, Nimetullaev created a public organization "Kyrym birilgi" (Crimean unity), which became one of the first examples of creating of the Crimean Tatar movement, which was loyal to Russian authorities. The organization stated participation in the creation of the Crimean development programs and public control over the implementation of these programs among its tasks. According to the pages in social networks, the organization is not so popular. Usually there are no more than a few hundred people, who are gathered for “crowd scene”, at official events.
Remzi Ilyasov, who is the most influential of Crimean Tatars, was present at the meeting with Putin in 2014.
Since 2001 Ilyasov was the Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, enjoyed great prestige and, in fact, for many years he substituted for Mustafa Dzhemilev during his absence in Crimea. In 2013, at the elections of the Mejlis Chairman Ilyasov lost Refat Chubarov with hair's-breadth election result – 114 votes against 126. After that, the consequence of Ilyasov has fallen sharply in the Mejlis, and he was on the sidelines.
After a trip to Sochi Ilyasov was promoted to the deputy chairman of the "State Council" of Crimea. At first, he did not make sharp statements to the Mejlis, speaking quite diplomatically. In turn, the Mejlis in response to the uncoordinated Ilyasov’s visit to Putin was limited only to warning.
Relations were severed in August 2014, when Ilyasov and Zaur Smirnov were both expelled from the Mejlis.
Zaur Smirnov was one of two Crimean Tatars (together with the organizer of the Crimea Civil blockade Lenur Islyamov), who got the go-ahead from Mejlis to join the occupying authorities. But as opposed to Islyamov, Smirnov was quite accommodating. He was an inconspicuous apparatchik, a member of the Mejlis, and from 1999 to 2013 he worked in the position of the Head Department on Ethnic and Migration Affairs of the Yalta City Council. Then Smirnov headed the Committee on Nationalities and Deported Citizens in Russian government of Crimea, and holds this position until now. On a par with Balbec, Smirnov plays to the audience as an exemplary Crimean Tatar, who made an oath to new authorities, they often participate in official receptions together and make joint statements.
In December 2014, Remzi Ilyasov led the new Crimean Tatar movement "Kyrym". Zaur Smirnov and the head of Bakhchisaray District Council Refat Derdarov (already removed from the post) became his deputies. The constituent assembly was attended by Sergij Aksionov, and the initiators were persons with familiar names, that are Ilyasov, Balbec, Hafarov, Yakubov, Bilialov.
The movement "Kyrym", which was opened pompously, has not been able to achieve real support of Crimean Tatar people. Its activities are limited to the soothing statements and, for example, to call to Turkish President Erdogan not to attend the World Crimean Tatars Congress. The first reception was opened only six months after the creation of the movement. "Q?r?m" began to show more serious vital signs in connection with the blockade of Crimea – Ilyasov criticized the Mejlis leaders sharply and called to stop the action. The most notorious case of "Kyrym" was a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in which they complained about the blockade of the peninsula, and asked "to consider the critical situation and to assume the appropriate measures as soon as possible".
When the Russian authorities have realized the impossibility of creating of Crimean Tatar representative body, which most of Crimean Tatar people would support, they decided to ban the Mejlis. The manual organizations got involved in it. Last December these organizations wrote a letter to the Russian prosecutor's office on behalf of Crimean Tatar people to ban the Mejlis. On the basis of this letter, the Russian "prosecutor" of Crimea opened a criminal case on the recognition of the Mejlis as an extremist organization. Leaders of front organizations hailed it.
"As "Kyrym Birligi" public council leader I support the prosecutor... It is clear, that this is an extremist organization. Crimean Tatars and Crimean residents associate the word "Mejlis" with the name of Mustafa Dzhemilev, That’s why it was necessary to ban the Mejlis. That it did not exist at all!" — Nimetullaev said. Balbec and Smirnov made anti-Mejlis statements too.
On the 15th of April Remzi Ilyasov told figuratively after the statement about banning the activities of the Mejlis. "Our pseudo leaders (Chubarov, Dzhemilev and Islyamov — Ed.) provoked shameful dissensions within the Kurultai delegates and Mejlis members. I found it hard to resist them. They are experienced politicians. They put many veterans out of the national movement easy", — he said about people, whose instructions he followed for years.
Authorities’ attempts to create an alternative to Mejlis were long before the annexation. And they always ended in failure because of inability to reproduce the electoral structure, which the Crimean Tatars representative body is. The only way to create an alternative to the Mejlis is to hold open elections in Crimea, what Russian authorities are not able for.
At the same time, the legitimacy of the Mejlis is also becoming more vulnerable every year. The representative body of Crimean Tatars have to be re-elected at the national congress, and it is impossible in the occupied Crimea. The position of the Mejlis among its fellow-citizens is becoming vulnerable too: it is banned by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, and the leaders are forbidden an entrance to Crimea.
Despite this, the "leaders" imposed by the Russian authorities, have no chance to settle down among Crimean Tatars. The reason is simple: discrimination on the peninsula does not focus on individual representatives of Crimean Tatar people, but on the entire nation. And pocket organizations have neither goals, nor desire to stand up for their compatriots seriously. People understand it. That is why despite all the efforts of the authorities, cardboard organizations can count on cardboard supporters only.