Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov has transferred building of Simferopol kenesa -- Karaite synagogue -- to Karaite ‘Cholpan’ religious community. Karaites sought for the kenesa for almost a quarter of a century.
“Religious community of Karaites has sought for the kenesa for a long time. The decision has been made. I want to hand over the keys of the kenesa”- Aksyonov said, delivering the speech.
The Kenesa, designed in Mauritanian, Byzantine and Gothic style, was built at the expense of local Karaites in 1891-1896. During Soviet era, in 1930, the kenesa was turned to radio station. During the Nazi occupation it served as stable, then again was turned to radio station.
Crimean Karaites plan to make the building ethnic museum complex.
According to chairman of Crimean Karaites Association ‘Krimkarailyar’ Vladimir Ormeli there are about 2 thousand Karaites in the World, with 800 Karaites living in Crimea.
Crimean Parliament June 25 approved a decision to appeal to Russian Parliament to Crimean Karaites to the list of small indigenous peoples of Crimea. Crimean Tatars were not put in the list.
Meanwhile Ukraine on March 20, 2014, recognized Crimean Tatars indigenous people of Crimea.
Note: Crimean Karaites, nowadays population 2,000, are an ethnic group derived from Turkic-speaking adherents of Karaism in Eastern Europe, especially in the territory of the former Russian Empire. Defined themselves as originally centered in Crimea, Crimean Karaites were established in Trakai, Lithuania and Eastern Galicia since late medieval times.