Ukraine to broadcast to Crimean Tatars

Crimean Tatar protest, Kiev, 2016 Image copyright GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Crimean Tatars protest in Ukraine against the Russian annexation

Ukraine plans to start broadcasting news in the Crimean Tatar language to the native population of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed three years ago.

The state radio company's general producer Dmytro Khorkin said regular broadcasts should start next year. "These people, who are facing persecution for their nationality, religion, and political views, will be able to listen to broadcasts in their own language," he told the Crimean service of Radio Liberty.

Russian troops seized Ukraine's Crimean peninsula during the turmoil after the flight of pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

The Muslim Crimean Tatars, who make up about 12% of the population, enjoyed considerable cultural autonomy under Ukrainian rule, but Russia has since banned their Mejlis national council as an "extremist organisation".

Mr Khorkin said Radio Ukraine has been broadcasting in Russian to get its message across to the mainly Russian-speaking Crimea for the last three years, but now wants to recruit "presenters and announcers with a good knowledge of Tatar, as the language needs to be protected and encouraged".

He acknowledged that experienced Crimean Tatar broadcasters "are hard to find", but once they are in place Radio Ukraine will use Kherson Region, just north of Crimea, to broadcast analogue and digital radio coverage.

The State Broadcast Committee has been making determined efforts to boost Ukrainian-language television signals to Crimea over the last year, and Dmytro Khorkin said regular medium-wave radio broadcasts are audible in parts of the peninsula after sunset, according to the Suspilne Movlennya media news portal.

The Russian authorities in Crimea have not yet reacted to Radio Ukraine's announcement, but Dmitry Poklonsky, the local official in charge of communications, told Russia's Sputnik website last week that "only Russian TV and radio will be broadcast to Crimea - all states have to take certain measures to defend their territory and information space".

Image copyright Aleksander Kaasik/Wikimedia Commons
Image caption Crimean Tatar culture defines much of the peninsula's popular image

Reporting by Martin Morgan

Next story: Gambia denies hosting Russian imperial revival bid

Use #NewsfromElsewhere to stay up-to-date with our reports via Twitter.