Crimean Tatars Test Russian Power
With energy blockade, minority opposed to annexation demands political changeBy Laura Mills, WSJ
Dec. 2, 2015 8:38 p.m. ET
KIEV—When the lights went out last week in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea, one group of local residents celebrated: The region’s Crimean Tatar minority.
Over three days in late November, four transmission towers in the Ukrainian region of Kherson were blown up, leaving much of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, in the dark.
Since then, Crimean Tatar activists have blocked repair workers from fixing all but one of the damaged towers, demanding that Russia first release nine political prisoners and expand democratic freedoms in Crimea.
Much of the peninsula remains without electricity, despite Russia’s delivery of 300 power generators last week. A state of emergency declared by local authorities is still in place. Public transport was halted and schools have been closed for more than a week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has accused Kiev of “silent consent” to the power outage, visited the peninsula Wednesday. He announced that an undersea cable from mainland Russia would start delivering one-fourth of Crimea’s energy needs beginning Thursday, though he warned “there might be some glitches” before the cable is completed Dec. 20.