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Crimean News Issue #2




SIMFEROPOL - On the eve of a mass rally by Crimean Tatars in Simferopol politicians and human-rights activists were on hand to dedicate a monument to General Petro Grigorenko, the dissident who championed the Tatars' cause. The unveiling of the bronze bust on May 17 was an occasion for former dissidents to commemorate their hero and criticize Ukraine's unrepentant Communists.

"Grigorenko possibly did more for the return of our people (from exile] than any Crimean Tatar," said Mustafa Dzhemilev, leader of the Tatar Mejlis (parliament) at the ceremony. "But in Crimea there are still a lot of monuments to people who helped organize our destruction."

- Grigorenko a Soviet general, was one of the USSR's most prominent dissidents. In 1969, after pressing for the release of Dzhemilev and the return of Tatars to Crimea, he was jailed in a psychiatric prison and subjected to years of drugging and torture. His arrest gave renewed momentum to the Soviet human rights movement, and many dissidents were jailed for protesting the use of psychiatry against Grigorenko.

At the opening ceremony, organizers read telegrams of congratulations from human-rights activists across the former USSR.

Tatars have been among Crimea's strongest supporters of Ukrainian statehood, and have sought allies among Ukraine's center-right parties. Leaders from both wings of the splintered Ru party wete present, and Rukh-1 presidential candidate Hennady Udovenko used the occasion to give an anti-Communist speech.

Ukrainian Communists, however, still revile Grigorenko. A source close to the presidential administration told the Post that, at a May 17 meeting. in Kyiv with President Leonid Kuchma, and Crimean Tatar leaders, parliament Speaker Oleksandr Thachenko. called Grigorenko "that spy."

City planners in Simferopol's, Communist-dominated. Government initially nixed the monument pripesal, saying that its foundation interfered with plumbing on the public square. Authorities relented, but the square, incidentally, is. still named Soviet square.


- Nathan Hodge



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