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National Geographic. A Jewel in Two Crowns

A Jewel in Two Crowns
Russia’s paradise lost belongs to Ukraine—and that’s where the trouble begins.

 

A Jewel in Two Crowns

A Jewel in Two Crowns

… «Conversation about Crimea was constant in my family,» said Rustem Skibin, a 33-year-old Tatar artist with the hooded eyes and intensity of a falcon. We sat in his studio in back of his house in Acropolis, a village northeast of Simferopol, where the green of coastal Crimea gives way to the long horizon of the hot, dry steppes. «I heard the stories,» he said, «but I didn’t feel them.» The family had been forcibly resettled in Uzbekistan. «In 1991 we came back. Crimea was home. I went to Alushta to see the narrow streets with their small Tatar houses. I felt a sense of belonging and understood what it meant to be Tatar in my homeland.»

It is our motherland, I kept hearing, but whose motherland? For Galina Onischenko, the motherland was Russia. For Rustem Skibin, Crimea was the Tatar homeland and had been for at least seven centuries

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