The Crimean Tatars make up about 12 percent of the population of Crimea. The Tatars have been in Crimea since at least the late 14th century. But they have a long and difficult relationship with the area. They faced mass deportations under Stalin and much of the Tatar population in Crimea was wiped out. After the Soviet Union broke apart many Crimean Tatars began to return to their homeland in the early 1990’s. Most have said they plan to boycott any referendum which would return Crimea to Russia. Peace Corp volunteer Barbara Wieser spent four years working with the Crimean Tatar community on cultural preservation initiatives. She was forced to leave Ukraine in December when the Peace Corps evacuated all its volunteers from the region. She’ll explain why the Tatar community would rather remain a part of Ukraine.
(Photo: AP/Darko Vojinovic)