Introduction / History The Crimean Tatar of Russia are part of a much greater Tatar population. Large numbers of Crimean Tatars can be found in Turkey, Romania, Uzbekistan, and the Ukraine.
The Crimean Tatars are descendants of the Mongols who swept through eastern Europe in the thirteenth century. Their history has been both complex and turbulent. For many years they have endured hardship, oppression, and injustice.
By the end of the 1440s, the Crimean Khanate was established on the Crimean Peninsula. However, Russian rule came late in the eighteenth century and was very repressive. In 1944, Stalin accused the entire Crimean Tatar population of collaborating with the Nazis, and had them deported to Soviet Central Asia. Sadly, almost half of them died in the process. To this day, the Tatars are still struggling to return to the homeland they were forced to leave almost half a century ago.
What are their lives like? Since the massive deportation of the Tatars in 1944, much of the traditional Crimean lifestyle has been lost. They have undergone an intense process of assimilation into Russian culture. The older people have maintained a strong sense of ethnic identity; however, it has been extremely difficult for them to pass it on to their children.
The northern part of the Crimea is highly suited for agriculture. Winter wheat, corn, and sunflowers are the main crops. However, the climate is very dry, so additional water supplies must be brought in by canal. There are many vineyards on the lower mountain slopes of the southern Crimea. As in the northern areas, many in the south are also farmers, especially in the Volga region. However, in the southern areas they primarily live on "collective farms." There, they raise grains such as wheat, rye, oats, and millet. Chickens and cows are also raised since poultry and milk are important products for market. Extra money can be earned by selling leatherwork, ceramics, and metalwork.
A majority of the Crimean Tatar who live in the cities wear western style clothing. Elderly and rural people wear more traditional dress such as scarves, turbans, robes, and sandals. Modern Tatars live no differently from ordinary Russian families, but in rural areas some pre-revolutionary traditions persist.
Family ties are very important to the Tatars. The size of the immediate family ranges from four to five members; however, two or three generations will often live together in the same house. The great majority of the Crimean Tatar marry within their culture, unlike some of their Tatar cousins. Families are dominated by the men and work is divided along traditional lines, with men working outside and women tending to the children and the household duties.
Tatar children have no schools of their own. The school system publicly denies thousands of young Tatars knowledge of their nationality, history, language, and culture. As a result, about three-quarters of these children cannot read or speak their native language, Krym.
The Tatars have a deep love for songs and music, which are popular at holidays and feasts. They perform popular folk songs, called manes and chin, whenever there is a celebration.
What are their beliefs? The Tatars are Sunni Muslims who belong to the Hanafite branch. However, they have no version of the Qu'ran in their language.
What are their needs? Some evidence suggests that the Crimean Tatars have a thirst for the Word of God. Tentmakers with skills in agriculture and construction are needed, in addition to those who can evangelize and do church planting. Tatars also need job training and help in establishing small businesses.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call full-time Christian workers who are willing to go to Russia and share Christ with the Tatars.
* Pray for those who are leaving comforts behind and risking their lives to return to their homeland.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Crimean Tatar Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of Russia's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Crimean Tatars of Russia.
References See also the following related groups:
The Crimean Tatar of Romania, Uzbekistan, Ukraine.