After being aired by Ukrainian Radio for more than a year, Vatan Sedası (‘The Voice of Motherland’), a unique Crimean Tatar radio project, has become quite popular with Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian listeners. To report on the progress made over the last year and help the project reach out to a wider audience in Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea, its host Khalise Zinedin, Ukrainian Radio’s Chief Editor Alina Akulenko and Deputy Minister for Information Policy of Ukraine Emine Japarova called a news conference in Kiev titled ‘The reality and challenges faced by Crimean Tatars’.

According to Khalise Zinedin, Crimean Tatars, who were forced to leave Crimea due to Russian occupation, lost touch with their homeland culturally and emotionally. That is why, by coming to the project’s studio, they primarily seek to share with others how they feel.

“Cultural identification is currently undergoing major changes and this is what we are discussing with our guests. This is not a political talk show. People talk about their successes and failures. We have incredibly talented young people who talk about their successes in studying, participating in international conferences and so on. Each guest brings in his own story of the life of the Crimean Tatar people,” says Khalise Zinedin.

Khalise Zinedin claims 120 Crimean Tatars have been guests of the program over the last year. And these are not some celebrities but ordinary schoolchildren, students studying in mainland Ukraine or simply talented people who have a story to share with the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians. If we were to look at the percentage, 50% of the program’s guests account for school and college students, 35% - adults and 15% - prominent individuals.

“This is primarily a platform for adaptation of immigrants. It also provides people with a chance to tell others about themselves and the challenges they face. Ultimately, it provides ordinary Ukrainians with an opportunity to talk about ordinary Crimean Tatars, thus bringing the two nations closer together,” said Emine Japarova, Deputy Minister for Information Policy of Ukraine.

According to Japarova, Soviet propaganda made Ukrainians treat Crimean Tatars negatively, even in times of independent Ukraine.

“It was only after the annexation of Crimea that Ukrainians got to know Crimean Tatars real well. They discovered they could be patriotic, ready to defend their country and national identity, listen and cooperate. Crimean Tatars are a people with a rich cultural heritage and this is what we want to tell the Ukrainian people,” she concluded.

When asked why Ukrainian Radio put the program on the air, Ukrainian Radio’s Chief Editor Alina Akulenko said:

“We have always provided regular and up-to-date coverage of Crimea and Crimean Tatars. Ukrainian Radio was, is and will be a platform for returning temporarily annexed Crimea,” said Akulenko.

It is thanks to Ukrainian Radio that thousands of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars all over Ukraine and Crimea can listen to the Crimean Tatar language being spoken, find out about the problems faced by Crimean Tatars, learn about the culture and traditions of Crimean Tatars.

Vatan Sedası is on air twice a week at 6.10 pm on Ukrainian Radio.