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Uzbekistan: Long Road to Exile for the Crimean Tatars

Almost 200,000 Crimean Tatars returned to Crimea following the collapse of the Soviet Union. (Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

Rauf Ibragimov was 15 years old when he emerged from a Soviet cattle car into the searing hot desert of Uzbekistan, exactly 70 years ago this week.

Now 85, Ibragimov still has fresh memories of the day Red Army troops arrived in his village to condemn his family as “enemies of the people,” force them out of their home on the balmy Crimean peninsula, and send family members on a grueling 4,000-kilometer journey into exile in Uzbekistan.

“In the evening some soldiers brought some vehicles – lots of them – to the school,” Ibragimov (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) told EurasiaNet.org in an interview in the small apartment where he lives alone in a suburb of Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent.

“We kids were out and about in the evening and we saw the cars. … In the morning, really early, two soldiers came: Get ready – you’re leaving. Where to? No one knew where.”

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Uzbekistan: Long Road to Exile for the Crimean Tatars

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