Russian police officers tried to make Zair Smedlyayev, Head of the Kurultay’s Central Executive Committee, put away a Crimean Tatar flag he brought for a today’s football match. During the match, two Crimean Tatar football teams were to vie for a trophy named after Amet-Khan Sultan, a two times Hero of the Soviet Union.
In a video published on Facebook, Zair Smedlyayev is seen holding a Crimean Tatar flag and being surrounded by several police officers.
- A Crimean Tatar flag has never been something banned. I am Crimean Tatar, I love my people, I love my homeland, I love my national flag, so I brought it here, says Zair Smedlyayev.
- Why can’t you just use a Russian flag? Do you really need a Crimean Tatar one? the police officers ask.
- What’s wrong with my flag? You know who I am, so you can fine me. And if you do, I’ll see you in court, Smadlyayev replies.
According to Smedlyayev, the ban on using Crimean Tatar symbols came from ‘the top’.
“The recent events have clearly shown that police have been given an order to stop people from using Crimean Tatar symbols. Take, for instance, all those prohibitions making us give up our right to launch our own investigation into who damaged cars with Crimean Tatar flags inside. Police have not yet found those responsible for that, nor have they found those who set mosques on fire and robbed them, nor have they found those who vandalized Crimean Tatars’ holy places. That is probably being done with the silent consent of the authorities, and primarily those of them who pledged to give their lives for their people when accepting the job,” Smedlyayev wrote in his Facebook account.
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