WARSAW: A group of 32 Crimean Tatars has requested refugee status in Poland following Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, Polish border guards said Friday.
The eight families, or 32 Tatars in total, requested refugee status late Thursday at the border crossing with Ukraine in the southern Polish village of Medyka, Polish border-guard spokeswoman Agnieszka Golias told AFP.
“They justified their act by the situation in Crimea. We received their requests and launched the appropriate administrative procedures. In the meantime, they may be sent to a refugee centre, without being required to go,” she said.
The Muslim ethnic group, which makes up between 12 to 15 percent of the Crimean population, has protested against Russia’s intervention on the peninsula and mostly stayed away from a disputed referendum in which the Russian-speaking majority overwhelmingly voted in favor of breaking away from Ukraine.
Following last weekend’s vote and Crimea’s subsequent absorption into Russia, the government in Kiev now fears Moscow has its sights set on southeastern parts of Ukraine.