“Infrastructure of care” is a term we introduce drawing on critical infrastructure studies. We take an infrastructure of care to be a material system consisting of human beings, animals and objects which allows these actors to coexist with one another. “Actor” is a term borrowed from actor-network theory, allowing us to speak of objects as capable of action and taking the exclusivity for such capability away from humans. Infrastructures of care, created by Crimean Tatars, can be viewed rather literally – as supplying the reclaimed land areas, devoid of communication lines, with running water and electricity, or as aiding with sustaining infrastructure in families of political prisoners. Infrastructures of care could take a less literal form as systems of ecological protection, solidarity with other peoples suffering from Russia's colonial oppression, and movements in support of victims of political repressions.
The settlements on the reclaimed land lacked communication lines and these had to be laid down by the returning people – self-restoration presupposed not only the capture and defence of land, but also construction of houses and communication lines with almost no available funds, as savings lost their value rapidly after the fall of the Soviet Union. This construction was possible literally because of a tradition of mutual care - “talaka”. This care allows to create infrastructure today, as is the case with the family of the political prisoner Medzhit Abdurakhmanov. Activists have helped the family to complete the construction of their house so that they would not be forced to keep living in a trailer due to losing their breadwinner.
Crimean Tatars have on multiple occasions been faced with a choice between their own benefit and supporting the infrastructure of care for subjects suffering from Russia's colonial violence. The Russian and Soviet governments have made multiple attempts to buy the loyalty of Crimean Tatars and draw them to their side in the fight for colonial power. In the Soviet Union, the project for establishing the Mubarek Republic was one such attempt. Instead of a permission to return to Crimea, which according to the government was entirely occupied by holiday centres and spas providing medical services, it was proposed to enact an indigenisation of Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan, granting them lands. Such a decision not only would have gone against the demands of Crimean Tatars to return to Crimea, but it would also jeopardise the relations with local inhabitants, which were established with great difficulty after deportation. In response to the Mubarek proposal, Crimean Tatars replied with protests. The next choice was put before them upon return to Crimea – the KGB attempted to enlist them, offering help with repatriation in return for a pro-Russian stance. They refused, taking a pro-Ukrainian stance. They did not abandon this stance after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, when the Russian government had literally attempted to buy the Crimean Tatar people.
“Crimean solidarity” can also be understood as an infrastructure of care. This movement supports political prisoners through legal help and media exposure, also uniting the families of prisoners and organising events with their children.