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With moves to detach Crimea from Ukraine and place it under Russian jurisdiction now accelerated, and frantic diplomatic efforts continuing to deescalate the crisis over Russia's occupation of the peninsula, considerable attention has been rightly focused on the courage and restraint shown by Ukrainian troops there who have found themselves under virtual siege. But there is a much bigger group of people under threat in Crimea from Russian aggression whose predicament needs to be properly appreciated addressed - the Crimean Tatars, who settled there centuries before the arrival of the Russians.While working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees asa senior policy adviser I was involved in the 1990s in themultilateral efforts to bring the Crimean Tatars back to Crimea fromformer Central Asia to which they had been deported en masse by Stalinin May 1944. At that time, together with the CSCE High Commissionerfor National Minorities and the Council of Europe we had to persuadethe authorities of the newly independent Ukrainian state that theCrimean Tatars would not be a potential source of Islamist extremismand separatism, as the Russian media often claimed, that theiracquisition of Ukrainian citizenship should be expedited, and thatthey be helped to integrate.Fortunately, these efforts were successful for official Kyivultimately proved receptive. Some 250,000 Crimean Tatars returned inthe mid-1990s, mainly from Uzbekistan. Many of them if not most ofthem had been born in exile. Despite the hostility of thepro-Russian authorities in Crimea and efforts to keep them politicallyand economically disenfranchised, the Crimean Tatars persevered andquickly re-established themselves socially and as a political factoron the peninsula. Despite severe provocations, they did thispeacefully. In 1998, in recognition of this their leader MustafaDzhemilev, who had been imprisoned several times by the Sovietauthorities for campaigning for the right of his people to return toCrimea, was awarded the prestigious annual Nansen prize by UNHCR.