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HomeCultureLetter From Crimea: Stalin, Putin and the Exile Tartars

Letter From Crimea: Stalin, Putin and the Exile Tartars

This is the twelfth in a series about a journey, by train and bicycle, across Russia to Crimea shortly before the war began.

The Khan’s Palace in Bakhchysarai, once the center of the Tatar civilization in Crimea. In 1944, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin deported the Tatars to Central Asia. Only when Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 did some of the Tatars return to Crimea. Photo: Matthew Stevenson.

I appreciated staying on my train to the next stop, Bakhchysarai, more than I relished disembarking into a heavy rain. Under an awning at the small station, I pulled on my poncho, rain hat, and gloves, and slowly biked into a maelstrom, figuring I had not come to Crimea to hide from the rain in the Bakhchysarai railroad station.

In my traveling bag I had maps and printed pages of guides to Bakhchysarai, but all they helped to do was to point me in the right direction to the Khan’s Palace, which was up a hill…

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