|Refat Kurtiev, 1925 - 2012|
On May 15th, the Gasprinskiy Library hosted an event in the Reading Hall celebrating the transfer to the library of the books, manuscripts and documents of famous Crimean Tatar historian, ethnographer and activist, Refat Kurtiev.
Refat Kurtiev was born in 1925 in Crimea. He received a military education and was a special officer in the Soviet army. In 1944 when his family was deported from Crimea, he was away fighting in the war. It wasn’t until 1951 that he was able to find his parents, “living in a barn in appalling conditions.” He described the conditions of deportation in his book, Life in the Deportation: How it was- 1944-1956.
In Uzbekistan he became an activist in the Crimean Tatar National Movement, resulting in his being fired from the Soviet army. He returned to Crimea in 1985 and began to actively study and write about the history of the Crimean Tatar people. Refat Kurtiev was a delegate to the II, III and IV Kurultay (Congress) of the Crimean Tatar people and a member of the Audit Commission of the Kurultay from 1996 to 2007. Throughout his life, Refat Kurtiev continued to play an active role as a leader of the Crimean Tatar people to revive their native language, culture, and religion, and served as a “demanding and thoughtful” mentor to many young people who entered the national movement in Crimea. He died at the age of 87 on March 3, 2012.
|Refat Kurtiev during interview with library methodologist|
The library event opened with a showing of a recent interview with Refat Kurtiev by library methodologist Elmaz Emerova, taken only a few weeks before his death. His widow and lifelong companion, Leila Belyalova, spoke of his passion for books and that "wherever he was, he always brought home a bag of books, frequently spending his pension on the purchase of new publications." His entire collection of 1575 books was donated to the Gasprinskiy Library.
|Library Director Gulnara Yagaeva opened the event.|
Many Crimean Tatar famous figures attended the event and gave tribute to this beloved Crimean Tatar leader. Vadim Erinyak, First Deputy Minister of Culture of AR Crimea, said “This is a momentous event for all of us…Refat Kurtiev is a man who did much for his people…unfortunately he is no longer with us but his work will live on.”
First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, spoke of the bequeathment of Refat Kurtiev’s personal library as “a great service for scholars and historians and for the younger generation to be aware of the difference he made during his lifetime.”
Other public figures who attended the event and paid tribute to Renat Kurtiev were: Aziz Abdullaev, Vice Chairman on the AR Crimea Council of Ministers; Remzi Ilyasov, AR Crimea Verkhovna Rada Deputy and Chairman of the Standing Committee on International Relations and the Problems of Deportees; Eden Dudakov, Chairman of the National Committee for Relations between Peoples of Crimea; Safura Kadzhametova, AR Crimea Verkhovna Rada Deputy; and Safinar Dzhemilev, Chairman of the League of Crimean Tatar Women.
|Aziz Abdullaev assists Kurtiev's widow, Leila Belyalova.|
Following the speeches, a special ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially open the library collection of Kurtiev’s books and manuscripts.
Three days after this event at the library, on May 18th, was the annual Day of Memory of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatars. In his memoir published in 2007, Refat Kurtiev spoke of this day: “I always go to this rally, and I believe that such events bind together our people. And I want to say again, we are not ethnic minorities…we are the people of Crimea.”
|The library display of Kurtiev books and momentos.|
(Information for this blog came from the Gasprinskiy Library website and the QHA news service.)