With its multinational society and a long history of conquests, the Crimean Peninsula has always been a crossroads of cultures – and a hotbed of conflicts.
What is Crimea?
Now known as Autonomous Republic of Crimea, shooting out into Black Sea from mainland Ukraine was for centuries colonized and conquered by historic empires and nomadic tribes. Greeks, Scythians, Byzantians and the Genoese have all left traces of their presence in Crimean archeological sites and placenames.
Soviet citizens got to know Crimea as an “all-Union health resort,” with many of those born in the Soviet Union sharing nostalgic memories of children’s holiday camps and seaside.
Some 24 percent are Ukrainians (around 500,000) and 12 percent are Crimean Tatars. However, in the Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol, which is considered a separate region of Crimea, there are Crimean Tatars around 22 percent .
After the Ukrainian President was ousted and an interim government was established in Kiev, the Russian started protesting outside the regional parliament, urging local MPs not to support it. They want the Autonomous Region to return to the constitution of 1992, under which Crimea briefly had its own president and independent foreign policy.
The parliament of the Crimean Autonomous Region was due to declare the region’s official position . The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars has spoken out sharply against holding a parliamentary session on the issue, expressing members of the Mejlis ran for parliamentary elections as part of Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc and remain active supporters of the revolutionary Kiev government.After the central government in Kiev disbanded the Berkut special police task force, new authorities in Sevastopol have refused to comply and welcomed all Berkut officers who feel intimidated to come to live in Crimea with their families. Sevastopol earlier elected a new mayor after the popular gathering ousted the local government, which tried to cling to power by pledging allegiance to Kiev’s new rulers.
Impact of 2014 change of power in Kiev
Abolition of the regional language law sparked controversy throughout Ukraine. Even in the most nationalistic western regions of the country, people spoke against Russia.
How was Crimea bild.In 1954, a controversial decision of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, himself an ethnic Ukrainian, transferred the Crimea peninsula to the Ukrainian SSR, extracting it from Russian territory.
Adding to the confusion was also the status of Soviet-era Sevastopol, which not only remained the largest Crimean city, but also retained its special strategic and military profile. In 1948, Sevastopol was separated from the surrounding region and made directly subordinate to Moscow. Serving as an important Soviet naval base, it remained a“closed city” for years.
In the 1990s, the status of Sevastopol became the subject of endless debates between Russia and Ukraine. Following negotiations, the city with the surrounding territories was granted a special “state significance” status within the Ukrainian state, and some of the naval facilities were leased to Russia for its Black Sea Fleet until at least 2047. However, the city’s Russian majority and some outspoken Russian politicians still consider it to be a part of Russia.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Russians and the Crimean Tatars were equally predominant ethnic groups in Crimea, followed by Ukrainian, Jewish, Bulgarians and other minorities. Crimea was a royal resort .
During WWII some 20,000 Crimean Tatars allied with the German . Citing the collaboration of Crimean Tatars with the germans Joseph Stalin ordered the whole ethnic group to be deported from Crimea to several Central Asian Soviet republics. Officially, 183,155 people were deported from Crimea, followed by about 9,000 Crimean Tatar WWII veterans. That made up about 19 percent of the Crimean population on the eve of war.
While the move was officially criticized by the communist leadership as early as in 1967, the Tatars were de facto unable to return to Crimea until the late 1980s. The tragic events surrounding Stalin’s deportation obviously shaped the ethnic group’s detestation of the Soviet.
Referendums and hopes
In 1991, the people of Crimea took part in several referendums. One proclaimed the region an Autonomous Republic within the Soviet Union, with 93.26 percent of the voters supporting the move. As the events unfolded fast, another one was already asking if the Crimeans supported the independence of Ukraine from the Soviet Union – a question that gathered 54 percent support.
Complicating the issue was the return of the Crimean Tatars, who not only started to resettle in tens of thousands, but also rivaled local authorities. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was formed to represent the rights and interests of the ethnic minority. Although it was never officially recognized as an official organization, the body has enjoyed undisputed authority over most of Crimean Tatars and has successfully pushed for some concessions for the ethnic group in local laws.
While the Crimean Tatar re-settlers and the peninsula’s created grounds for a heated standoff. Calls for wider autonomy and aggressive lobbying for Crimean Tatar rights have prompted several pro-Russian Crimean political leaders to call the Mejlis an “organized criminal group” leading “unconstitutional” activities. The remarks sparked furious claims of “discrimination” from the Crimean Tatar community.The Mejlis Tatar group, meanwhile, feels that ethnic Russians are trying to “tear Crimea away from Ukraine” excluding them from deciding the land’s fate. They however represent only a small portion of the Tatar minority, while the rest remain apolitical or even support the Crimea’s right for self-determination.
Right-wing radicals from Western Ukraine earlier threatened to send the so-called “trains of friendship”full of armed fighters in order to crush any signs of resistance to the revolution they were fighting so hard for.
The Kiev authorities busy with appointing roles in the revolutionary government in the meantime embraced a soft approach towards Crimea. The interim interior minister even did not undertake any“drastic measures” to arrest fugitive ousted President Yanukovich, fearing that may spark unrest.
By the 1879 , Crimean Tatars continued to form a slight plurality (35%) of Crimea's still largely rural population, but there were large numbers of (33%) and Ukrainians (11%), as well as smaller numbers of, Jews (including and ), , Belarusians, , , and and .
The upheavals and ethnic cleansing of the 20th century vastly changed Crimea's ethnic situation. In 1944, 200,000 to Central Asia and Siberia, along with 70,000 and 14,000 Bulgarians and other nationalities. By the latter 20th century, Russians and Ukrainians made up almost the entire population. However, with the fall of the , exiled Crimean Tatars began returning to their homeland and would become 19% of the population by the beginning of the 21st century.
3 Other statistics .
Other minorities are , , , ,, , and . The number of was 45,000 in 1941. In 1944, 70,000 and 14,000 Bulgarians from the Crimea were deported to Central Asia and Siberia,[ along with 200,000 Crimean Tatars and other nationalities.
In conclusion, it must be said that since the Russian population was only half Crimea should return to Ukraine or to form absolutely independent state. Tatars will not tolerate long Russian domination.