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Poland, in snub to Kremlin, awards prize to Crimea

Published on May 7, 2014 7:25 PM
 
Mustafa Dzhemilev, historical leader of the Crimean Tatar National Movement and former Soviet dissident speaks to journalists during his interview for AFP in Kiev on May 6, 2014. Poland on Wednesday awarded a prize for championing democracy and human rights to Mustafa Dzhemilev, a leader of the Tatar community in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula who says he was barred from the region after Russia annexed it. -- PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW (REUTERS) – Poland on Wednesday awarded a prize for championing democracy and human rights to Mustafa Dzhemilev, a leader of the Tatar community in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula who says he was barred from the region after Russia annexed it.

The choice of laureate for the inaugural “Solidarity Prize”is likely to irk Russia, which is locked in a stand-off with Ukraine that has sunk relations with the West to their lowest level since the Cold War.

“He is a defender of Ukraine’s integrity,” said Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, as he announced Dzhemilev had been awarded the prize.

“He is someone who, together with his people, has demonstrated that democracy is possible.”

The Tatars are a Turkic-speaking Muslim community who make up about 12 per cent of Crimea’s two million-strong population.

 
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