Russian troops reportedly detained 82-year-old Ayse Seytmuratova, a prominent Crimean Tatar activist and journalist, at a checkpoint connecting Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland, a Crimean official said on Friday.
Refat Chubarov, chairman of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly said they are currently taking measures to establish contacts with Seytmuratova, the Crimean News Agency (QHA) reported.
Previously in December, Seytmuratova met with the Crimean Tatar youth in Russian-occupied Crimea for an event.
Saying that despite all the pressures, Crimean Tatars should continue to live in the peninsula, Seytmuratova noted during the event, "Even if the aliens come to Crimea, we will not leave here."
Seytmuratova had also witnessed the Crimean Tatar exile at the age of 7 when she was exiled from her homeland on May 18, 1944, with her mother and six brothers. Graduating from the history department of Samarkand University, Seytmuratova lived in exile for years in Uzbekistan and then moved to the United States where she continued her works regarding the Crimean Tatars.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine after an independence referendum in 2014, following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as a result of the pro-EU Euromaidan protests. The U.N. General Assembly later voted to proclaim the Russian action illegal, and along with an overwhelming majority of U.N. member states, Turkey does not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
Crimean Tatars are a Muslim community indigenous to the Black Sea peninsula.
Under Joseph Stalin's rule, they were sent into exile to Uzbekistan and the Urals and did not return until the fall of the Soviet Union.
Most Crimean Tatars opposed Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and subsequently Russian authorities have cracked down on the community, banning their assembly and television channel as well as detaining and jailing dozens of activists.