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Photo: The British Ukrainian Society (c) 2014

“Dream Land” by Lily Hyde: Presentation in Kyiv

The British Ukrainian Society co-organised and financially supported a presentation of the Ukrainian language edition of ‘Dream Land’, a novel by British writer and journalist Lily Hyde about the Crimean Tatar people, which was held in Kyiv on 14 May 2014 in partnership with Duliby Publishing House.

May 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of deportation of the Crimean Tatar people from their historic homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Even though the late 1980’s saw the beginning of a massive return of the Crimean Tatar people to Crimea (Ukraine), their repatriation has not gone painlessly, and it took a lot of patience and hard work for their people to get back on their feet in the land of their ancestors. With the events of the present day in Crimea, the history appears to repeat itself once again, as many Crimean Tatars are again forced to leave their homeland.

Lily Hyde spent a decade working in Ukraine and took dozens of interviews about the deportation and repatriation of Crimean Tatars. Based on those interviews, she wrote a novel called ‘Dream Land’, which was published in the UK by Walker Books in 2008. The novel was later translated and published in French (Na?ve livres, 2011) and Crimean Tatar (Thesis, 2013) languages.

The Ukrainian edition of the book was published in 2014 by Duliby Publishing House, co-organisers of the presentation, with financial support from a prominent Ukrainian diplomat, politician and civic activist Igor Ostash.

The event had received governmental support from Ukraine’s Ministry for Culture and the Kyiv City State Administration, as well as by Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and the Community of Crimean Tatars in Kiev. The presentation was held at the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Cultural-Art and Museum Complex.

The event drew major interest from the general public, the media, diplomatic corps, politicians and civic activists. Around 300 people attended the presentation, including representatives of Georgian, Slovenian, Turkish, Iraqi, Palestinian, Italian, German and Polish diplomatic missions, as well as the Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Ukraine, and prominent figures from the literature and arts scenes. It was also attended by representatives of 46 media outlets.

Igor Ostash anchored the presentation, while its various speakers included Lily Hyde, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Fatherland party faction Sergiy Sobolev, Chairman of the Kyiv City State Administration Volodymyr Bondarenko, Deputy Minister for Culture of Ukraine Oles Zhuravchak, Member of the Advisory Board of the British Ukrainian Society Anthony Fisher, and Acting Chairman of the Community of Crimean Tatars in Kyiv Alim Veliullah.

Mustafa Dzhemilev, a prominent Crimean Tatar leader, was another distinguished guest who appeared at the very end of the presentation. The audience were also treated to Crimean Tatar songs of the Distinguished Artist of the Republic of Crimea Lenara Osmanova, and Lenmar Abdulayev.

The ‘Dream Land’ presentation was also a charitable cause, as the majority of proceeds from sold copies of the book were donated towards establishing a workshop of the Crimean Tatar arts and crafts under the leadership of Rustem Skybin, a prominent Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar artist.

‘Such major interest in this presentation is the testament to the growing concern among the Ukrainian public about the threats facing the Crimean Tatar people,’ outlined Igor Ostash. ‘All of us should unite in this difficult moment. By publishing this book by Lily Hyde and holding this charitable action in support of Crimean Tatar initiatives we express our solidarity with the Crimean Tatar people, as well as our protest against human rights abuse’, stressed Maryna Grymych, Director of the Duliby Publishing House.

Anthony Fisher, Member of the Advisory Board of the British Ukrainian Society, underlined that Ukraine celebrates all of its various ethnicities, and respects different views. ‘And it is through the experience of the Crimean Tatar people that we can see in Ukraine a modern country that is united in shared values. A country protecting the rights of all of its citizens.’

Mr Fisher also delivered the following final message to all Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians. ‘You are not alone. You have literally millions of friends around the world that will do everything in our power to make sure that the international community gives you its full support. And we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the Crimean Tatars have a voice and are heard.’