Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian state: the challenge of politics, the use of law, and the meaning of rhetoric
this hall, a great historical step was taken towards the strengthening of
Hrach, speaker of the Crimean parliament and head of the Crimean
republican committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, speaking at the
the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 
Constitution of the
approval of the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 
The recent approval of the Crimean Constitution by the Ukrainian Parliament in December 1998, after years of protracted struggle between Kyiv and Simferopol over the nature of Crimea's autonomy, has been presented by the Ukrainian government, and considered by some domestic and foreign observers, as having finally settled "the Crimean problem" the problem of the Russian separatist movement in Crimea by defining Crimea's status as a constituent part of Ukraine and specifying the range of its powers. While neither Kyiv nor Simferopol may be fully content with the final compromise, the constitution particularly disregards the interests of over 260,000 Crimean Tatar, who have returned to Crimea in the last 10 years after almost half a century in places of deportation, and now constitute around 12% in Crimea's 2.5 million population, which is majority Russian. Most of the political demands put forward by Crimean Tatars since early 1990s remain unresolved today, and Tatars' unrecognized demands for greater group rights continue to aggravate political situation in Crimea.
will analyze these political demands, and how and why the Ukrainian and Crimean
authorities have responded to them. It will argue that while the Crimean
elites' response to the Tatar political demands has been overwhelmingly
negative, official policy of Ukraine has lacked clarity and consistency, and
has been an attempt to balance between a number of often conflicting
objectives: determination to cement Crimea firmly within Ukraine, need to
appease Crimea's Russians, concerns over encouraging group claims by Russian
and other minorities, inability to withstand the pressure brought by mass Tatar
protest actions, the need to work under the constraints of deficient and often
ambiguous domestic legal framework. Under these circumstances, Ukrainian
government's inability to formulate a consistent approach towards the Crimean
Tatar political demands mirrors
Section 2 of
the paper will outline the main political and legal demands put forth by the
Crimean Tatars, and the official response they have encountered. Section 3 will
discuss the position of the Crimean authorities and of the leftist forces in
2. Main political and legal demands of the Crimean Tatars and brief history of government's response
faced by the 260,000-stong Crimean Tatar community are complex and
multi-faceted, including socio-economic, cultural, and political and legal
issues. Economically, Crimean Tatars are in a destitute situation even in
But apart from socio-economic problems where the solution requires financial costs, there are a number of political and legal problems associated with the Crimean Tatar return to Ukraine where the solution is not a matter of money, but of law and politics. Resolution to these latter problems many of which cut at the core of such issues central to Ukraine as relations with the Russian majority in Crimea and the challenge of accommodating over 100 ethnic minorities living in Ukraine while consolidating Ukrainian national identity is hampered by the political and legal controversies around them. Among political and legal problems most often stressed by the Crimean Tatar leaders are: a need for a legal mechanism to guarantee Crimean Tatar representation in Crimean and Ukrainian organs of power; official recognition of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (33-member body elected by the Crimean Tatar Kurultai (national congress) as the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people; official recognition of Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people of Crimea and Ukraine rather than a national minority; Ukrainian citizenship rights to all returnees resettling in their homeland; and recognition of the Crimean Tatar language as one of the official languages in Crimea. Crimean Tatar aspiration for change of the status of the Crimean autonomy from the current territorial autonomy into a national-territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatars will be discussed in sections 3 and 4, since in recent years it has been more a factor influencing the attitude of various political forces in Ukraine towards Crimean Tatar other political demands, rather than a concrete objective in itself, as the paper will further argue.
Crimean Tatar representation in the Crimean government organs
of the Crimean Tatars at Crimean organs of power is the political problem most
emphasized by the Crimean Tatar leaders. Constituting 12% of
the quota provision without its replacement with any other mechanism that would
have allowed Crimean Tatars to elect their representative to the Crimean
parliament has been criticized by international observers, but to little avail.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights recommended that
"the electoral system for the Parliament of Crimea should give better
possibilities for the Tatars to be represented. This can be done by introducing
proportional elements to the election system." The OSCE High Commissioner on national minorities has emphasized for
many years the importance of a continuation of the quota system or other
mechanism to guarantee Tatar representation, such as "an electoral system
which would give them [Crimean Tatars] a near certainty of having a
representation broadly commensurate to their percentage of the total population
Ukrainian citizenship problem and voting rights of the Crimean Tatars
Ukrainian citizenship has been another major problem for the Crimean Tatar
returnees. Out of approximately 260,000 Crimean Tatar who returned to
the time of March 1998 parliamentary elections, some 80,000 Crimean Tatars
more than half of the voting age population lacked Ukrainian citizenship and
were not allowed to take part in elections. This was a change in comparison with the 1994 presidential and
parliamentary elections and the 1991 Ukrainian independence referendum, when
returnees without Ukrainian citizenship could vote on the basis of proof of
residency, in accordance with the Article 1 of the 1992 Bishkek agreement of
heads of CIS states that gave deported people the same political rights as
citizens of signatory states. In protest of this decision, in February and March 1998 mass
protest demonstrations by the Crimean Tatars took place around Crimea, some of
which have turned violent. The authorities remained resolute, however for
reasons the next section will discuss despite pressure from the Crimean
Tatars and recommendations by the OSCE and the Council of Europe to allow
Crimean Tatars with permanent residency in Crimea to vote in Crimean elections,
taking into account difficulties in acquiring Ukrainian citizenship that the
Tatars have faced for many years. The fact that over half of the voting age Crimean Tatar
population was prevented from taking part in Crimean parliamentary elections
undoubtedly affected voting results to the Crimean parliament. Even a few
extra votes could have been decisive, as in one of the Crimean electoral
districts a Crimean Tatar candidate reportedly was just 14 votes short of being
The Ukrainian government has been praised by the international community for resolving the citizenship problem for over 100,000 the Crimean Tatars. But the solution of the citizenship problem at the same time marked the beginning of a new stage of dispute between the Crimean Tatar leaders and the Ukrainian authorities with regard to other political and legal problems of the Crimean Tatars that their leaders emphasize. Many Ukrainian officials now argue that since the Crimean Tatars have acquired Ukrainian citizenship, they lost any ground to claim preferential group treatment since they are now in equal legal position with the rest of the Ukrainian citizens to enjoy the full spectrum of rights under the Ukrainian law. The Crimean Tatar leaders disagree, citing their inability to elect representatives to the Crimean parliament under the majoritarian system as the most telling example of why separate legal measures such as quotas are needed to ensure their equal status with other groups in the area where they are in a minority in every administrative and electoral district.
Mustafa Jemilev, even if just one Crimean Tatar representative was on the
ballot in each electoral district during 1998 elections to the Crimean
"we had a theoretical chance to elect just three deputies [in the 62nd,
64, and 69th electoral districts]... In the remaining 97
electoral districts of
Legal status of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis
status of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and Kurultai has been a problem since the 2nd
Crimean Tatar Kurultai
convened for the fist time in
Official proposals that to legalize its status Mejlis registers as a social organization or a political party have not been acceptable to the Crimean Tatar leaders, on the other hand. The Tatar leaders maintain that, unlike political party or a social organization representing interests of a limited group of people, Mejlis and Kurultai, being democratically elected by all Crimean Tatars, represent the interests of the Crimean Tatar people and should be recognized as such. As Mustafa Jemilev argued in a recent interview, "Mejlis is not an organization. Mejlis is an elected representative organ of the Crimean Tatars people. National parliament, if you would like. It is not yet recognized in the law. The authorities propose that we register as a social organization or a party, on par with the Society of Beer Lovers. We will not do this." Crimean Tatar leaders are also concerned that if Mejlis were to register as a party or a social group, it would allow the government to treat it as just one in over 50 Crimean Tatar civic organizations, thus playing upon difference in the position among various groups a tactic to downplaying the representatives of Mejlis in order to avoid addressing the issues it raises.
considering Mejlis and Kurultai as representative bodies of the Crimean Tatar
people, Crimean Tatar leaders commonly deny that Mejlis and Kurultai are
parallel structures to the official power organs in
The situation with Mejlis' official status remained deadlocked for years, but on 18 May 1999, as some 30,000 Crimean Tatars held a rally in Simferopol to commemorate 55th anniversary of the 1944 deportation, the Ukrainian President signed a decree creating a presidential Crimean Tatar advisory council composed of all 33 Mejlis members and headed by the Mejlis chairman, Mustafa Jemilev. The decree, although short of full recognition of Mejlis, has been commonly regarded as a de-facto recognition of Mejlis and its capacity as the main interlocutor on behalf of the Crimean Tatars. The full recognition in the law is still to come, however, as well as legal mechanisms to enable the Council's functioning, which so far has not started working.
National minority or indigenous people?
All of the
above political and legal problems are linked to a more fundamental and legally
and politically controversial issue the "indigenous people" notion
in the Ukrainian legislation, and recognition of the Crimean Tatars as an
indigenous people which they have called for. In practice,
The Crimean Tatars, however, regard themselves as an indigenous people of Crimea rather than a national minority, and differentiate themselves from other formerly deported groups for several reasons: Because the Crimean Tatars have historically developed as a national group on the territory of Crimea and, unlike other minorities in Ukraine and in Crimea, do not have a homeland or a kin state outside of Crimea a crucial difference. Official attempts to treat Crimean Tatars, especially in the official rhetoric, as no different from representative of other groups deported from Crimea (a strategy that is also often used by the Crimean Tatar opponents who rebut their demands for group rights on the grounds that other groups would have to be accorded the same treatment see below), have been disputed by the Crimean Tatar leaders. Crimean Tatars argue that while in the communities of the representatives of deported groups (Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Germans) in Crimean the vast majority are not the descendents of deportees but individuals of these ethnicities who came from other parts of the Soviet Union, the Crimean Tatars have been deported en mass as a nation, and therefore the rights of deported individuals of other nationalities and the rights of the Crimean Tatar people as a nation (narod, natsia) are qualitatively different issues.
Although the legal aspects of the problem around indigenous people concept and Tatars claim to it is undoubtedly complex, the fact that discussion of this problem in the parliament came to be scheduled after years of delay shortly after the rightist majority was formed in the parliament for the first time since Ukraine's independence, lends credence to the view that, as with other political and legal demands of the Crimean Tatars, political and ideological preferences, and not just the spirit of the law, have been a driving force of the government's policy on the subject.
of the constitutional system of
Tatars and the leadership of the
Tatar political demands for greater group rights have met with virtually a deaf
relationship between the Crimean Tatars and Crimean Communist leadership dates
back to late Soviet period when Crimean Tatars began to return to Crimea en
mass, and little reconciliation took place since Mustafa Jemilev recently
described the Crimean administration as "the most serious threat" the
Crimean Tatars face.
The political and ideological differences between these two groups are hard to
overestimate: the pro-Russian and pro-Communist orientation of the majority of
the Crimean population and Crimea's parliament is in stark contrast to the
anti-Communist and a pro-Ukrainian stance of the Mejlis and the majority of the
Crimean Tatars, and they also differ on such defining issues as NATO, Kosovo,
and the Chechen war. The idea of a Slavic union of
Unwillingness of the Crimean authorities to recognize any Crimean Tatar political demands for group rights is commonly couched in the language of equal rights. Crimean elites present their position as a "policy of the dialogue of national cultures and groups in Crimea ... to preserve variety of ethnic components in Crimea," while characterizing political demands of the Crimean Tatars as voiced by the Mejlis - "illegal organization of so-called indigenous people" as nationalistic and extremist, "flagrantly violating the constitutions and laws of Ukraine and Crimea, human rights, and principles of citizens' equality." Rhetoric of equality and rights notwithstanding, it appears that it is not the substance of the Crimean Tatar political demands and these demands' "extremism," but rather the ideological and political differences between the Mejlis and the Crimean elites that are at the root of the Crimean authorities' denial of the legitimacy of Mejlis as a partner in negotiations, as well as Mejlis' demands, as the policy of Crimean leaders towards other Crimean Tatar groups illustrated.
Speaker of the Crimean Parliament Leonid Hrach, who has described himself as "a principal opponent of quotas for the Crimean Tatars" or any other special constitutional arrangements, which would simply "allow all sorts of radicals to speculate on the situation," at the same time in April 1999 set up "Council of the Crimean Tatar Elders" (Sovet Aksakalov) as an advisory body to the speaker. Aksakaly who seem to all come from just one of the Crimean Tatar civil organizations and thus their claim to be a truly representative body can be called into question openly acknowledge that they share many if not most of Mejlis' objectives, despite their negative attitude towards the Mejlis. These objectives such as mechanisms to ensure greater Tatar representation in the Crimean government organs, indigenous people status, greater language rights, and even national-territorial autonomy status for Crimea are the very same that, according to the Crimean leadership, makes Mejlis "extremist" and disqualifies it as a partner for a dialogue.
Crimean leadership's more favorable attitude and encouragement of anti-Mejlis Crimean Tatar groups such as the Aksakaly, despite their similar stated objectives, is clearly politically and ideologically-driven. Unlike the Mejlis, Aksakaly acknowledge their more favorable attitude towards the Communists in Crimea and Crimea's leadership, and a negative one towards the pro-Ukrainian forces supported by the Mejlis and Kyiv, as well as towards Crimea's transfer to Ukraine from Russia. Creation of the "Council of Elders" may have also been an (unsuccessful) attempt by the speaker of the Crimean parliament to pre-empt the formation by the Ukrainian President Kuchma of the Crimean Tatar advisory council composed of all 33 members of Mejlis one month later the decree that de facto legalized Mejlis and recognized it as the body representing Crimean Tatar interests in the dialogue with Ukrainian authorities.
4. Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian political Right strategic alliance, tampered by suspicions
political stand-off and mutually exclusive demands in
Tatars' cooperation with pro-Ukrainian political forces dates back to the
Soviet period, and is a product not only of a strategic alliance given current
political realities in
1990s, when pro-Russian Crimean separatism and local Communist elites came to
be regarded as their common threat, the Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian groups
have been strategic allies against Communist and pro-Russian separatist forces
nationalist parties have been voicing their support of the Crimean Tatar
political demands since late Soviet period in their statements and documents. The Crimean Tatar-Ukrainian
alliance has moved beyond verbal cooperation before March 1998 parliamentary
elections when Rukh, main Ukrainian nationalist party, included members
of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev and Nadir Bekirov, in its party
list as numbers 9 and 49 respectively. Jemilev's position on the list
guaranteed his elections, and he was duly elected and became one of the two
Crimean Tatar deputies in the Ukrainian legislature. Refat Chubarov, deputy
Chairman of Mejlis, was elected to the Ukrainian parliament from
However, apart from getting a deputy to the Ukrainian parliament although an important achievement the alliance of the Crimean Tatars with forces on the right of the Ukrainian political spectrum so far has brought the Crimean Tatars little tangible dividends, for several reasons: first, the limited influence at the central level (in Ukrainian Parliament and government) of the rightist Ukrainian political parties and groups supportive of the Tatars; second, suspicions many Ukrainian nationalist politicians harbor about some of the Crimean Tatar political demands and the Tatar "real" intentions; and third, lack of in-depth understanding and consistent attention to the Crimean Tatar interests on behalf of the Ukrainian political Right, which often resulted in the Crimean Tatars interests being (even if inadvertently) disregarded by their Ukrainian supporters when larger issues are at stake.
has been the largest party in the Ukrainian parliament after Communists, since
1990 the Ukrainian Right and Right-Center parties that have supported Crimean
Tatars have accounted for no more than about 15% of the Ukrainian parliament.
Until January 2000 parliamentary crisis (prompted by President's decree to hold
referendum on no confidence in the parliament) which has led to the formation,
even if artificially, of right-center majority, the parliament had been plagued
by bitter divisions and had no overall majority. The leftist factions,
generally hostile to the Crimean Tatar political demands, have been numerous
enough to kill unwanted bills. The draft law "On the status of the Crimean
Tatar people" and other relevant draft laws and amendments, such as
"On the rehabilitation and guaranteeing of rights of national minorities
although Ukrainian nationalist parties have been strategically cooperating with
the Crimean Tatars in an effort to increase central control and
Despite some rather radical stated goals and public rhetoric, Crimean Tatar Mejlis has been quite centrist in its actual political practice, including on issues such as national statehood and the right to self-determination, which has been noted by independent observers. Although keeping the goals of national-territorial autonomy and self-determination in their program, in practice in recent years Mejlis leaders have put a lot more emphasis on comparative less controversial, and more realistic, political objectives, such as legal mechanisms to guarantee representation in the Crimean parliament and government organs (instead of denying the legitimacy of these institutions, which has been their more common position in early-mid 1990s). At the latest Crimean Tatar Kurultai in October 1999, after heated debate, the majority of delegates agreed that the question of self-determination and re-creation of Crimean Tatar statehood are primary of a theoretical nature, and should be discussed at academic conferences and round-tables rather than at political forums.
given the stated objectives of the Crimean Tatars, many of the Ukrainian
nationalist who prefer
Crimean Tatars interests have often been sacrificed by the Ukrainian Right,
even if unconsciously, in larger political battles they have been fighting with
the Left on
In a similar development, law on March 1998 elections to the Crimean parliament initially adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on 26 December 1997, stipulated that elections to the Crimean Parliament should be held under a mixed system (50 deputies elected in single-seat constituencies, and 50 from the party lists of candidates the system for elections to the Ukrainian parliament). But this and other provisions of the law were vetoed by the President, and the final version as adopted by the parliament on 12 February 1998 established a majority electoral system for Crimea. Proportionate electoral system would have served the interests of the Crimean Tatars better than the majority one, under which they failed to elect a single representative. However, Rukh was among the opponents of the mixed system, and Communists were in favor of it likely because the strength of the Communist party in Crimea would have allowed it to win more seats under the proportionate system, whereas the majority system is better suited to ensure elections of the "party of power" or pro-Presidential candidates. The effect of the law on the Crimean Tatars was of little concern under the circumstances. Given that 5 April 2000 parliamentary hearings on the Crimean Tatar problem in the Ukrainian parliament was attended by just 100 deputies from 450 illustrates that few of the Ukrainian lawmakers are concerned with the particulars of the Crimean Tatar problem and possible solutions to it, and even fewer understand its specifics and are able to move beyond reference frames such as "Tatars-Islam-Turkey-NATO-Russia-Slavic Union etc." in their approach to the problem and consider draft laws on the merit of their specific proposals and not just ideologically-inspired associations.
5. Crimean Tatars and the official Kyiv politics, law, and rhetoric
If one word can characterize the official policy of the Ukrainian government towards the Crimean Tatar political demands that existed to date, this word is "inconsistent." Given the web of political, ideological and legal controversies around the Crimean Tatar problem discussed in the preceding sections, the absence of clear and consistent official policy response towards the Crimean Tatar political demands is perhaps of little surprise, although it can hardly be regarded as an optimal policy. At different times, different motivations and political calculations have determined the official Kyiv's responses to the Crimean Tatar political demands. Political and ideological divisions in the Ukrainian society are mirrored in its elite, hampering elite concession on what the policy should be with regards to the Crimean Tatars in particular, and on nationality issues in general. Legal difficulties, such as vague and often contradictory provisions of current legislation and insufficient legal framework within which the Crimean Tatar problem is to be regulated causes additional difficulties. Different government agencies disagree not only on practical policy steps to be taken with regard to specific issues Crimean Tatars raise, but even on the overall legal framework within which these issues are to be regulated. Some believe that the current legal framework (i.e. national minorities legislation) is sufficient, others disagree and argue that a separate law regulating the Crimean Tatar status is needed, plus there are disagreements on whether this should be a law on the Crimean Tatars in particular, or deported people in general, or on the indigenous peoples, or some combination of the above.
Ukrainian political Right, the official Kyiv has relied on the Crimean Tatar
support against pro-Russian separatism in
Given the (objectively determined) unconditionality of Crimean Tatars' support for Kyiv in the geopolitical conflict, perhaps the only "trump" the Crimean Tatars could play with Kyiv has been their impressive organizational capacity and mobilization. This allowed the Tatars to organize massive protest actions the tactic which often resulted in policy concessions from authorities. Fortunately for all involved, the Crimean Tatars have always adhered to the non-violence principle that has been a foundation of their movement since the Soviet time, but instances of violence and clashes with police have nevertheless occurred. The dynamics "Tatar mass protest actions authorities' concessions to the Tatars" aggravates the already tense and confrontational situation on the ground in Crimea, and increases the danger of the radicalization of the Crimean Tatar movement. The danger is recognized even by the Crimean Tatar leaders with a reputation of being on the more radical side, who express their dissatisfaction and concern about such a dynamic, and regret that official policy de facto encourages mass protest actions as the most certain means to achieve anything.
Like Crimean officials, many in the Ukrainian government try to present the Crimean Tatar problem as being primarily a socio-economic one, thus de-emphasizing the Crimean Tatar political claims both at home and abroad, while seeking to secure financial assistance from the international community for the Crimean Tatar resettlement in Crimea. The Ukrainian officials have also tried to emphasize individual rights over ethnically-based group ones, and to publicly justify political decisions in legal terms an approach with both positive and negative implications. Publicly "de-ethnicizing" and "de-politicizing" ethnic politics has permitted to prevent escalation of policy debates on some sensitive issues into an explosive and uncompromising standoffs. During debate of the 1997 citizenship law in the Ukrainian parliament although the problem at stake was to a very large extent a Crimean Tatar one the words "Crimean Tatars" were mentioned only once(!) during the three readings of the law. The provisions of the law facilitating access to Ukrainian citizenship for the Crimean Tatars were worded in politically and ethnically-neutral terms: "persons who were born or permanently resided on the territory of Ukraine and their descendants (children, grandchildren)." This wording covered the Crimean Tatars without mentioning them explicitly, thus allowing to solve a potentially touchy ethno-political issue without emphasizing it as such.
rhetoric of the primacy of individual rights, de-emphasis of group claims, and
calls for patience, restrain, and a step by step approach to the problems if
not accompanied by the willingness to actually address the problems at hand
is nothing more than a demagogy that cannot be an adequate approach to the
outstanding political problems. With regard to political demands of the Crimean
Tatars, the former has unfortunately been the case more often than the latter.
This prompts even Crimean Tatar leaders reputed for their moderation to voice frustration
with what they see as a de-facto official policy of ignoring Crimean Tatar
political problems, covering it up with calls for patience and appeals to
limits in the legal framework. As Refat Chubarov stated recently, "The
Crimean Tatars have always patiently waited that many questions arising with
their return to
Most of the
political demands the Crimean Tatars have been putting forward since early
1990s remain outstanding today, and on some issues, most notably the
representation in the Crimean parliament, the situation has notably
deteriorated in comparison with previous years. Solution to these problems in
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UNTsPD. 1999d. Ukrainsky Nezalezhny Tsentr Politychnykh Doslidzhen. Zakonodavche zabespechennia prav krymskykh tatar v Ukraini: pytannia ta perspektyvy. Materialy 'kruhloho stoly.' 3 chervnia 1999 roku. Kyiv: Ukrainsky Nezalezhny Tsentr Politychnykh Doslidzhen.
Umerov, Ilmi. Member of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and Chairman of the Bakhchisarai regional mejlis. (Interviewed in June 1999, Yalta and Bakhchisarai).
Rada Ukrainy. 1995. "Zakon Ukrainy 'Pro osoblyvosti uchasti hromadian Ukrainy
z chysla deportovanykh z Krymu u vyborakh deputativ mistsevykh rad v Avtonomnii
Respublitsi Krym'." Document No. 124-95BP (
Rada Ukrainy. 1997. "Zakon Ukrainy 'Pro hromadianstvo Ukrainy'."
Document No. 210-97BP (
Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy. 1998. "Zakon Ukrainy 'Pro vybory deputativ Verkhovnoi Rady Avtonomnoi Respubliky Krym'." Document No. 134-98BP (3 March1998).
Rada Ukrainy. 2000. "Postanova Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy pro provedennia
parlamentskykh slukhan z porblem zakonodavchoho vreguliuvannia ta realizatsii
derzhavnoi polityky schodo zabezpechennia prav krymskotatarskoho narodu i
natsionalnykh menshyn, jaki buly deportovani i dobrovilno povertaiutsia v
Ukrainy." Document No. 1532-III (
Verkhovnaia Rada Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym. 1999. "Stenogramma vstrechi predsedatelia Verkhovnoi Rady Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym Gracha Leonida Ivanovicha s chlenami Soveta aksakalov krymskikh tatar pri Predsedatele Verkhovnoi Rady Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym."
Sovet Krymskoi ASSR. 1992. "Postanovlenie Verkhovnogo Soveta Krymskoi ASSR
'O siezde (Kurultaie) predstavitelei krymskikh tatar.' No. 83-1 (29 iulia
1991)." In Sbornik normativnykh aktov Verkhovnogo Soveta i Soveta
Ministrov Kryma po voprosam vozvrashchenia deportirovannykh narodov. g.
Andrew. 1994. The Crimean Tatars. A Situation Report on the Crimean Tatars
for International Alert.
Andrew. 1995. "Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in
Andrew. 1998. "Politics In And Around
 Verbatim report from the session of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of
 Rezolutsia mitinga protesta krymskikh tatar protiv utverzhdenia
Kostitutsii Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym, zakrepliauschei bespravnoie polozhenie
korennogo naroda Kryma. Avdet,
 According to the 1989 Soviet Census, 2,458,600 people representing 37
ethnic groups lived in
 Ukrainian government statistics as given in Iliasov 1999, 51, also Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly 2000.
 Bishkek Agreement was singed by 10 CIS states (
 Source: Official Ukrainian government statistics, in Gabrielian , Iefimov et al. 1998, 151.
 Officials statistics, as sited in Krymskaia gazeta,
 Given the focus of this paper socio-economic aspects of the Crimean
Tatar return to
 Main Crimean Tatar political, as well as their economic and cultural,
demands are detailed in the Appeal of the Crimean Tatars addressed to the
President of Ukraine, Peoples Deputies of Ukraine, UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights, and the OSCE. (Avdet, 13 January 1997). The appeal
has been signed by over 100,000 Crimean Tatars over 18 years of age, according
to Mustafa Jemilev, Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis. (Avdet, 24
November 1998). Among other demands stated in this Appeal are more native
language education at all levels, restoration of traditional geographical place
 This quota provision was introduced by the Crimean parliament in
October 1993 (after being initially rejected) in the wake of mass protests and
railway lines blockade by the Crimean Tatars. For more on the October
1993 elections quota controversy, see
 In 7 of Crimea's 26 administrative districts, Crimean Tatars by now
constitute over 20% of the population with the highest share of the Tatars
(29,3%) is in the Sovetskyi region. (Official government statistics in Iliasov
1999, 47). Administrative districts do not correspond to electoral districts,
of which 100 were created in
 Council of
 Official government statistics supplied by the office of Ukrainian
President representative in
 OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights 1998b.
 OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 1995. Also CSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 1994; OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 1996; OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 1997.
 Documented renunciation of foreign citizenship is one of the conditions
for the acquisition of the Ukrainian citizenship (Article 17 paragraph 1 of the
1997 Ukrainian citizenship law), since
 Statistical data according to the UNHCR Simferopol, based on the
official government statistics (UNHCR 1999). The main obstacle for the Crimean
Tatars wishing to renounce Uzbek citizenship was $100 fee
 Some citizenship problems remain, however. The simplified procedures
for the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship in the 1997 law and the 1998
Ukrainian-Uzbek agreement applies only to the FDPs and their descendants, but
not to spouses in the cases of mixed marriages. Furthermore, 21,000 Crimean
Tatars who are citizens of other CIS states (10,000 citizens of
 Apart from voting rights, those without Ukrainian citizenship also cannot participate in privatization, benefit from free post-secondary education, and be employed in the government service.
 CIS 1992.
 Before March 1998 parliamentary elections in
 For an example of the most recent international praise on the subject,
see Lord Ponsonby's speech at the
 For example, Viacheslav Oleschenko, deputy head of the Directorate of
State and Legal Affairs of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, recently
argued that "Once Crimean Tatars will have citizenship, they will have
representation in organs of state power, in civil service. ... Constitution of
 Opponents of the quote provision for the Crimean Tatars commonly claim that the Crimean Tatars themselves are to blame for not having elected their representatives to the Crimean parliament during 1998 elections, since in several districts more than one Crimean Tatar candidate was on the ballot.
 Furthermore, Jemilev noted, "why, for example, Russians can put
more than one candidate in each district and still have someone elected, while
we must propose no more than one?" Avdet,
 Jemilev's report to the Conference of the
delegates of the 3rd Kurultai, in Avdet,
 The 1991 Kurultai was explicitly called the 2nd Kurultai, to signify the continuity with the first Kurultai established in December 1917.
 "Polozhenie o Mejlise Krymskotatarskogo naroda," Avdet,
 Verkhovny Sovet Krymskoi ASSR 1992.
 Elections procedure of Kurultai delegates by the Crimean Tatars, and
Mejlis members by the Kurultai delegates, are described in
 Chubarov 1999.
 Refat Chubarov, deputy chairman of Mejlis and member of the Ukrainian parliament. (Chubarov 1999).
 Prezydent Ukrainy 1999.
 In 1941-1944 several ethnic groups, in whole or in part, were deported
 OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities 1995.
 There are two other groups Karaims and Krymchaks (together numbering
less than 2,000 people, according to the 1989 Soviet Census) who do not have
a homeland outside
 For this argument, see Nadir Bekirov, head of the political-legal
department of Mejlis, in Bekirov 1995, 61. Current (1997) official statistics
for the representatives of other formerly deported groups in
 Draft UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has not been
accepted yet, and the main international legal instruments are the two
Conventions (No. 107 and 169) of the International Labor Organization that
 Draft law "On the Status of the Crimean Tatar people in
 Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy 2000.
 Research Update of the
 UA Today,
 The Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea came into force
 Mustafa Jemilev, the chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, has argued in a recent interview that after the adoption of the Crimean Constitution "the problem remains and has gotten worse, because yet again the rights of the Crimean Tatars were ignored." (Den, 1 April 1999). Failure of the Crimean Constitution to address the Crimean Tatar political problems has also been noted by Sedochenko 1999 and elaborated by Belitser 2000.
 Article 10 (paragraphs 1 and 2) of the 1998 Crimean constitution provides
for the "functioning, development, usage and protection" of the
Crimean Tatar and languages of other minorities, and the right to native
language education "as provided by the law of
 In Ukrainian: deportovani z Krymu hromadiany. Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Article 18, paragraph 21 (Prezydent Ukrainy 1998).
 For a recent example of the argument along these lined see
 Verkhovnaia Rada Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym 1999, 13.
 Pavlo Baulin, MP from the Communist party speaking during
 1992 interview with Mustafa Jemilev, reprinted in Turkistan-N
electronic newsletter (
 Resolution of a protest meeting. "Rezoluitsia mitinga protesta
krymskikh tatar I demokraticheskikh organizatsii Kryma "Net kolonializmu I
kommunisticheskoi tiranii v Krymu I na
 Kyiv Post,
 UNTsPD 1999a.
 With the exception of two persons representing NDKT the National
Movement of the Crimean Tatars (NDKT, abbreviated from its full name in Russian
Natsionalnoie Dvizhenie Krymskikh Tatar is an organization opposed to
Mejlis. Its position will be discussed below in greater details), and one
Crimean Tatar member of the Communist Party who have reflected favorably on the
 Both from the NDKT.
 Jemilev 1995, 19.
 Arifov 1999. See also opinions of the Crimean Tatar leaders collected
in UNTsPD 1999a. A notable exception to this view and to the
position of Mejlis in general is the NDKT, a Crimean Tatar organization whose
leaders were also at the roots of the Crimean Tatar movement in 1960s, but they
and those now are in Mejlis/Kurultai have parted ways in late 1980s. The NDKT
is supported by about 5% of the Crimean Tatars (according to the 1994 election
result to the Crimean parliament on the Crimean Tatar list). Its stated
political orientation is very different from that of Mejlis the NDKT regrets
the disappearance of the
 Bekirov 1995, 65-66, 75.
 Appeal of four factions of the Crimean Parliament issued after July
1996 Kurultai, cited in Avdet,
 Russian Community of Crimea's appeal in Krymskoie vremia,
 Hrach as quoted in
 Officially, Aksakaly were elected by July 1998 "Conference of veterans and activists of the Crimean Tatar people." However, during their meeting with Crimean Parliament speaker Leonid Hrach as reflected in the meeting's verbatim report one of the "elders," Sejkh-Ametov, voiced his concern that since Hrach called the meeting where Sovet Aksakalov was created before holding consultations with other Crimean Tatar organizations, Sovet Aksakalov "was established on the basis of one organization only." (Verkhovnaia Rada Avtonomnoi Respubliki Krym 1999, 28-31).
 Interview with aksakaly Refat Jemilev and Eskander Umerov, (
 Sedochenko 1999, 15.
 For example, Jemilev 2000.
 Mejlis Krymskotatarskogo naroda 1996.
 Kuchma won 98.7% of the total vote in
 For example, "Zvernennia Rady Nationalnostei Narodnoho Rukhy Ukrainy do Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy pro stavlennia do Mejlisu krymskotatarskoho narodu" (serpen-veresen 1991); "Postanova Tsentralnoho provodu Narodnoho Rukhy Ukrainy pro vidnovlennia natsionalnykh prav Krymskotatarskoho narody" (9 veresnia 1991), both in Bazhan and Danyliuk 1995, 309.
 In the 1998 elections in other southern and eastern regions of Ukraine Rukh received less than 5% of votes, while in 1994 parliamentary elections in Crimea an estimated of only 0.01% voters supported Rukh.
 Source: Central Electoral Commission of
 For a summary of conflicting views of Ukrainian MPs along these line see Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research Update, Vol. 6, No. 168 (10 April 2000).
 "Deklaratsia o natsionalnom suverenitete krymskotatarskogo
 Mustafa Jemilev, for example, have consistently argued that Crimean
Tatars "are not talking about building a completely independent state in
 For example,
 See collection of Crimean Tatar leaders' biographies where many
evaluated federalism in
 UNTsPD 1996.
 Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy 1995, ITAR-TASS,
 Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy 1998.
 Krymskie Izvestia,
 As reported on Crimea-L on
 Refat Chubarov has recently expressed regret that MPs and political parties tend to form their attitude to the Crimean Tatar problems in this way, rather than on the merit of the concrete issues at stake and solutions proposed. (UNTsPD 1999d, 61).
 For such divergent official views, see, for example, presentations by the Ukrainian government officials at the February 1999 round table "Crimean Tatars: 'national minority' or 'indigenous people'?", especially by Leonid Shklar of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration who was upholding the position that current legal basis is sufficient, and Serhii Rudyk of the State Committee of Ukraine on Nationalities and Migration who explained how it was not. (UNTsPD 1999c).
 Voting rights for Crimean Tatars without Ukrainian citizenship prior to 1995 but not since is an illustration, as plausible legal justifications can be presented in favor and against the change in policy. See Shevel 2000.
 Among the more telling examples are the October 1993 introduction of the quota provisions by the Crimean parliament, the August 1995 Cabinet of Ministers resolution addressing many of the outstanding political problems (see Shevel 2000 for more details), and May 1999 Presidential decree on the creation of Advisory Council composed of all 33 Mejlis members.
 To take a recent example, during February and March 1998 Crimean Tatar protests against the elections law a number of violent clashes have occurred.
 Author's conversations
with Ilmi Umerov, member of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and chairman of the
Bakhchisarai regional Mejlis in June 1999 in
 See, for example, statements by the Ukrainian delegated at the
 1998 elections law controversy is among recent illustrative examples.
 Verbatim report (electronic version) of the three hearings of the
citizenship law (
 Article 2 paragraph 3 of the citizenship law passed by the Parliament in April 1997. Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy 1997.
 UNTsPD 1999c, 69-71.
 Cemiloglu 1995, 105.
 Verbatim report of 25 March 1992 session of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy, piata sesia Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy XII sklykannia. Bulleten No. 38, p. 11