VILNIUS (QHA) -

In an interview with EspresoTV, Chairman of the Union of Lithuanian Tatars Adas Jakubauskas called on the Crimean Tatars not to leave the Crimea.

“I always say to the Tatars, whenever we meet with the Crimean Tatars here [in Lithuania, - Ed.], in Lviv, and in Kyiv, I say: "1944 will not repeat." The worst is already over, there will be no deportation. Yes, you will be pressed and forced to voluntarily leave your homeland. But try not to leave, try to stay, the occupation is not eternal. If you leave, your descendants will live in conditions of the diaspora in 50-100 years, which means assimilation, loss of language, identity, etc. I'm not sure that they will want to come back," Jakubauskas said.

He also noted that he asked the Lithuanian government to grant Crimean Tatar youth scholarships for studies at local universities.

Jakubauskas went on saying that the Crimean Tatars in Europe are perceived as citizens of Ukraine, not Russia.

“You see, the most interesting thing in our state and our embassy is that, before visa liberalization, if people living in the Crimea applied with Ukrainian passports, they were granted visas for free, usually for several years. With the Russian passport, the documents were not considered at all. That is, they are positioned as Ukrainian citizens, citizens of Ukraine, who have special support," he said.

Yakubauskas also drew attention to the fact that the Lithuanian government is doing a great deal in terms of extending sanctions against the Russian Federation until the Crimea is fully liberated and supporting Ukraine on the international arena.

Earlier QHA reported that over the three years of the annexation of Crimea, the Russian-controlled security forces conducted about a thousand searches in the homes of Crimean Tatars.

QHA