MOSCOW, March 19 (UPI) -- Ethnic Tatars in Crimea will be asked to vacate their land for resettlement elsewhere in the region, a top Crimean government official said.
Crimean Tatars, native to the region and largely Sunni Muslims, were deported to Central Asia in the last years of World War II but were unable to reclaim their land in Crimea after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many have taken over unclaimed land as squatters. Crimean residents voted Sunday to cede the area from Ukraine to Russia.
"We have asked the Crimean Tatars to vacate part of their land, which is required for social needs," said Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev in Moscow Tuesday, "but we are ready to allocate and legalize many other plots of land to ensure a normal life for Crimean Tatars."
Temirgaliyev told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti members of the Tatar community could receive senior political positions in Crimea's new government.
Tatars comprise about 15 percent of Crimea's population and remain staunch supporters of the Ukrainian government.