The so-called Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is whipping up tension in Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast. This force seems to be trying to take control over smuggling flows on both sides.
A source from Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service has told EADaily that on Feb 3 the Service stopped two 20-ton trucks attempting to smuggle fruits from Crimea via the Kakhovka check-point. The buyer reportedly was one of the leaders of the Mejlis Lenur Islyamov. The border guards acted according to the Cabinet’s decree on limited trade between Ukraine and Russia.
On Feb 5, Kakhovka was attacked by a group of people who indroduced themselves as activists of the Blockade of Crimea, a force from the Asker Battalion. The attackers searched the check-point and seized official records. The guards rushed to inform the Kiev authorities about the incident but the latter instructed them not to make a row and to “find common grounds with patriots of Ukraine” and “not to provoke ethnic conflicts.”
The border guards say that Mejlis men are acting impudently: covering smuggling activities, terrorizing locals, searching trucks and private cars. They charge $400-600 for one smuggled truck.
Following Kiev’s orders, the Ukrainian border guards met with the Mejlis leaders and agreed to give the “patriots” access to check-points.
As a result, Islyamov announced that from Feb 15 on there will be additional control over citizens and cargoes crossing the check-points on the border between Crimea and Ukraine. The Mejlis border guards will have special check-points but will have to comply with the law on protection of public order and state border.
“The Ukrainian border guards will instruct our men how to guard the border. We will not let sly merchants to use the current problems for just earning money,” Islyamov said.
But in reality the Mejlis leaders are acting in the opposite manner.