While trying to take over Crimea militarily, Russia, which saw the Mejlis as a major opposition force on the peninsula, tried to make all kinds of deals with the organization, making it very generous offers, Mustafa Jemilev said in interview with ONLINE.UA.

“They made all kinds of generous offers trying to negotiate a deal with the Mejlis. On March 11, 2014, they even held an extraordinary session of the Crimean Parliament, approving a decision called ‘On guaranteeing the rights of the Crimean Tatars’. Under the decision, national governing bodies of the Crimean Tatars, such as the Qurultai and Mejlis, as well as local and regional Mejlis branches, gained official recognition, while a quota of no less than 20% was established for Crimean Tatars to hold offices at all Crimea’s government bodies. They also made all kinds of other promises, including the ones they would not even dream of making previously,” Jemilev said.

However, Russia’s attitude changed abruptly after the Crimean Tatars made their position clear on the occupation, and the so-called ‘referendum’ on joining the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to Russia held in March 2014, Mustafa Jemilev said.

“Moscow launched a large scale campaign aimed at splitting the ranks of the Crimean Tatars, persecuting and deporting Crimean Tatar activists, establishing anti-Mejlis Crimean Tatar puppet organizations, intimidating the entire nation by mostly kidnapping and killing individuals and so on and so forth. They have not made much progress yet but they have been trying very hard,” Mustafa Jemilev said.

According to Jemilev, the banning of the Mejlis and a preposterous decision to declare it ‘an extremist organization’ is undoubtedly part of the same crackdown campaign.

“However, the Crimean Tatar national movement has an extensive experience operating under all kinds of prohibitions, so I do not think the occupants have achieved much by taking this step,” Mustafa Jemilev said.

Jemilev went on to say that Crimean Tatars’ ‘defiance bug’ has been highly contagious and other nations have caught it as well. Unfortunately, this has led to Russia resorting to traditionally tough measures of crowding out indigenous nations from the peninsula.