The Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office for Crimean Affairs in Kyiv stated that it had gathered evidence of the involvement of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and People's Commissar of the Interior Affairs of the USSR Lavrentiy Beria in the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people and representatives of other national groups from the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1944. A corresponding message was published on the official website of the Ukrainian supervisory authority.
As the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday, May 18, the Agency has been investigating the deportation case since 2015. The prosecutor for proceedings has already officially suspects Stalin and Beria as organizers of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people in 1944.
"And it is not just an act of historical justice. We are going to search and bring to justice the living executors of those criminal orders," Lutsenko stressed.
At the end of 2015, the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea continued to work in Ukraine after the accession of the peninsula to Russia and is currently based in Kyiv. During that year, it began an investigation into the criminal case "of the forcible resettlement" of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 in order to determine the number of victims and witnesses of that initiative of the Soviet leadership.
Prosecutors turned to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia for help. They also sent requests to Ukrainian state archives, libraries and higher educational institutions. What they found was that there were more than 1,000 potential victims or more than 250 families. 63 of those people still alive today, 45 of whom are residents of Crimea. They were questioned as witnesses and victims.
The Agency added that the conclusion of the expert of the Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, received by the prosecutor's office on May 16 indicates that "it was exactly the forcible resettlement in 1944 of more than 225,000 representatives of the Crimean Tatar people and other national groups from the peninsula's territory to live in unsuitable areas of the USSR, committed by representatives of the Soviet Union state power authorities, that led to their partial physical extermination."
According to the Prosecutor for Crimean Affairs, Gunduz Mammadov, the Agency has collected "enough evidence to report suspicion, and that draft reports on suspicion of committing a criminal offense specified by Part 1 of Article 442 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (genocide) by Stalin and Beria Lavrentiy Pavlovich have already been prepared."
During the events of May 19-20, 1944, the indigenous population of the Crimean ASSR was sent in small groups from Crimea to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, the Mari ASSR and other remote regions of the USSR. The Soviet leadership justified its actions by pointing out the participation of the Crimean Tatars in collaborationist formations that sided with fascist Germany during the occupation of Crimea. Later, the highest state bodies of the USSR, and then of Russia and Ukraine, recognized this deportation as illegal.
After the Crimea’s entry into Russia following the referendum of 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatar people and other nationalities that had been affected by Stalin’s repressions on the peninsula.
In 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine recognized the deportation of 1944 as genocide and officially announced Memorial Day on May 18.