File photo taken on April 2, 2014 shows two men speaking inside of Kenasa-karait prayer houses in the town of Bakhchisaray in Crimea. (AFP/OLGA MALTSEVA)
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Crimea's tiny 800-strong Karaite minority -- Turkic-speaking, not entirely Jewish and overwhelmingly pro-Russian -- hopes that Moscow's takeover of the peninsula will help them preserve their ancient culture.Hidden in the middle of a dense oak forest is the ancestral cemetery of Crimean Karaites: 7,000 ancient limestone graves, some covered with moss or lichen, some with still visible Hebrew inscriptions.Svetlana Shergene, a tiny and energetic 74-year-old, is among the few people in Crimea's main city of Simferopol who still attend Karaite services on Saturday mornings.A Karaite synagogue, or kenassa, is typically a two-storey building, with one floor designated for men, the other for women, which the faithful may enter only after washing their hands and faces and removing their shoes.This is why the Crimean Karaites have welcomed the new Russian rule in the peninsula.
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