Tatar, Crimean in Russia

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Tatar, Crimean
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 2,500
World Population: 610,600
Primary Language: Crimean Tatar
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.50 %
Evangelicals: 0.05 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Crimean Tatars are descendants of the Mongols who swept through eastern Europe in the thirteenth century. They are part of a much greater Tatar population but speak a different language and live in different areas. Large numbers of Crimean Tatars can be found in Turkey, Romania, Uzbekistan, and the Ukraine.
Crimean Tatar history has been both complex and turbulent. For many years they endured hardship, oppression, and injustice. By the end of the 1440s, the Crimean Khanate was established on the Crimean Peninsula. However, Russian rule over them came late in the eighteenth century. When the Russian Empire gave way to the communists between 1917-20, Crimea was the last strongholds of the anti-Bolshevik (communist) forces. Soviet collectivization was especially harsh for the Crimean Tatars, and tens of thousands died because of it. In 1944, Stalin accused the entire Crimean Tatar population of collaborating with the Nazis and had them deported to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. Sadly, almost half of them died in the ordeal. There is only a small remnant of the Crimean Tatars in Russia today.

What Are Their Lives Like?

A yearning to return to their cultural roots gradually formalized into a political process for the Crimean Tatars. This small community of Muslim farmers developed a national identity and a political attachment to a land defined in secular terms as their "homeland." Attempts to return to their historic territory began in 1987, and in 1989 the Soviet Supreme Court adopted a formal decision to allow them to return to the Crimean Peninsula. Although granted some degree of self-determination, the Crimean Tatars who have returned to the Crimean Peninsula still face problems. Crimean Tatar children have no school of their own, and the school system available to them does not teach them about their nationality, history, language, or culture. The vast majority of the people in the Crimean Peninsula are Russian, not Tatar. Though the Crimean Peninsula was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, Russia took it back in 2014. The Russians suspected many of the Crimean Tatars of being Muslim terrorists who were eager to rebel against Russian rule.
Since the Crimean Tatars' massive deportation in 1944, much of their 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 that identity on to their children.
Although food production is the way most people earn a living in the Crimean region, the Tatars work primarily in manufacturing or petroleum industries. They often make extra money by selling leather, ceramic, and metal craft items.
Family ties are very important to the Crimean Tatars. The size of the immediate family ranges from four to five members. However, two or three generations will often live in the same house. The great majority of the Crimean Tatars marry within their culture, unlike some of their Tatar cousins. The family is strongly patriarchal (dominated by the men). The line of descent is through the father and inheritance is passed down through the males. Work is divided along traditional lines with men working outside and women tending to the children and the household duties.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Crimean Tatars have been Sunni Muslims for centuries. Their negative experience with Orthodox Christians makes it very difficult for them to consider the claims of Christ.

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

Pray for the Crimean Tatars to receive justice and mercy so that their needs will be met.
Pray for the Lord to reveal Himself to Crimean Tatars who are willing to seek and find the only Savior.
Pray for Holy Spirit-driven workers to go to the Crimean Tatars.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Crimean Tatars in Russia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project