Ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea in early 2014, thousands of minority Muslim Crimean Tatars have fled the peninsula, many to the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Lviv. Official estimates say there are 25,000 internally displaced Crimean Tatars in Ukraine—unofficially, that number could be far higher. The Tatars are living embodiments of the uncertainty and confusion that has been actively promoted since Russian forces took over Crimea in February and March 2014.
As internally displaced people, they are trapped in a form of exile from a home where authorities are erasing signs of their unique identity and casting expressions of Tatar culture as a dangerous separatist threat to the annexation. Crimean Tatars feel they have more to fear from the annexation than most. For many, there is no distinction between modern Russia and the old Soviet Empire, which inflicted a trauma on the Crimean Tatars from which their society is yet to recover.
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