Crimean Tatar Resource Center

“Hostages of the Occupation”: Zair Smedlyaev, Head of the Central electoral commission of the Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar people (photo)

10 July 2020

We invite you to get acquainted with the next hero of the "Hostages of the Occupation" project - Zair Smedlyaev. Crimean Tatar activist, Head of the Central Election Commission of the Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar people and one of those who stood at the origin of civil journalism in Crimea. He was repeatedly offered, “recommended ” to leave Crimea, warned of not even dreaming of the former Crimea. He categorically refuses and is confident that Crimea will be free, the statehood of the Crimean Tatars will be restored.

His brother Tair Smedlyaev was detained and sentenced to two years of imprisonment in the case of “May 3” after they met the leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev at the entry to Crimea on May 3, 2014. This was the first criminal case against the Crimean Tatars after the events of 2014. According to Zair Smedlyaev, he had just learned how to “stream”, that is, to broadcast live reports from a site. Then there were more arrests, courts, and Zair, who was at the forefront of civil journalism in Crimea, now taught others how to make video reports and quickly cover certain events on the peninsula.

Zair Smedlyaev always tries to be at the center of events together with the jamaat (people) and believes that preserving national identity, language, culture, and traditions under the current conditions is possible only by unity of actions and thoughts.

“I try to live so that neither my children nor my grandchildren feel ashamed of me so that they can be proud of me. Be proud of our homeland. Crimea is everything to me. Only in Crimea I do feel like a part of our people, I breathe freely. Despite the fact that today they try to forbid us breathing, thinking, they destroy our heritage, we still breathe, think, try to preserve both language and our centuries-old traditions,” Zair Smedlyaev shared his thoughts.

He was repeatedly offered, “recommended ” to leave Crimea, warning of not even dreaming of the former Crimea. He categorically refuses and is confident that Crimea will be free, the statehood of the Crimean Tatars will be restored.

Project manager: Zarema Bariieva
Author of pictures: Lieniara Abibulaieva
Text writer: Alemkhan Sary
Translation into English: Zarema Bariieva

We remind that on February 26 in Kyiv, the presentation of the album and the exhibition “Hostages of the Occupation” took place, which tell us about the fate of 20 Crimean Tatar families after the annexation of the peninsula. On March 10, the exhibition opened in Vinnytsia. The exhibition is expected to be presented in Lviv and Dnipro as well.

The project was prepared by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center with the support of the Democracy Grants Program of the US Embassy to Ukraine.