Status" for the Crimean Tatars in
A History of a Political Debate
By Natalya Belitser
Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy
Tatars are returning to
Mustafa Dzhemilev, MP of Ukraine, Chair of the
Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people,
speaking at a roundtable, Kyiv,
Currently, ...there is a
dangerous confrontation and growing ethno-political tension in the
Leonid Hrach, Speaker of the Crimean parliament, Head of the
Crimean branch of
the Communist Party of Ukraine. Statement at the session of the PACE Committee
on Migration, Refugees and Demography,
The topic of
special rights for the Crimean Tatars, who were returning to Crimea after their
forcible mass deportation of 1944 and the almost half a century of living in
exile, first surfaced as an important political issue during the debates in the
national legislature of Ukraine on 12 February 1991. That whole day the Supreme
Council (SC) of the
None of the members of the Crimean Tatar delegation who came to Kyiv to present their view on the restoration of Crimean autonomy was allowed to participate in either the parliamentary sittings of 12 February, or in preceding discussions organized jointly by several permanent Committees, though their appeal for admission was supported by some MPs. During the two sittings, a total of 33 MPs took part in the discussion, and almost every speaker referred to the Crimean Tatar factor in the context of Crimean autonomy. But although the Crimean Tatar aspect was constantly addressed, and the solution to be reached would, inevitably, strongly affect the future of their community, this was not perceived at the time as a strong enough argument for allowing the Crimean Tatars' representatives to participate in the discussion.
The SC was at that time very poorly politically structured and could be seen as consisting of two opposed groups - a strong left majority (the so-called Group of 238) and the national-democrats (the People's Rada, later the Congress of National-Democratic forces). There were also a few "independents" who moved between the groups depending on circumstances. It was therefore no surprise that the very rhetoric, even the specific terms and expressions used, displayed totally different, incompatible views and approaches. In fact, these original differences and the arguments presented by the two opposing sides persisted over the next eleven years and can be recognized, with some modifications, in current political debates.
stenographic report of the debates of
of the autonomy - in this instance, defined by the draft law as a
"territorial-administrative" arrangement - also caused heated debate
concerning the status and the rights to be provided (or not) by this autonomy
for the Crimean Tatars. Some deputies, for example, Mr. Volkovets'ky, ("Narodna Rada" faction) and Mr. Shcarban,
("Agrarians" group), proposed to solve this issue by establishing a
national territorial autonomy for Crimean Tatars to be named "The Crimean
Tatar Autonomous Republic." This proposal was rejected by the left
majority as completely unacceptable. Mr. Korneyev,
for example, argued that "Russians and Russian-speakers constitute a
majority of the population of Crimea" while Nikolai Bagrov,
the then Chair of the Crimean regional council, and the First Secretary of the
Crimean regional committee of Communist party, stressed that "the Crimean
Autonomous SSR, that has to be restored now, was formed in 1921 as a
territorial, not a national autonomous unit." Mr. Bagrov
also declared that for him and his allies, the very idea of Crimean Tatars as
an indigenous people of
The issue of
the Crimean Tatars was repeatedly raised not just by those MPs who seemed
genuinely concerned by a fate that would clearly depend on any solution
reached. It was also heavily exploited by the proponents of restoring Crimean
autonomy according to the proposed draft; they pleaded that this move would
also reverse the "historical injustice" of their deportation. But in
fact, the Crimean Tatar aspect of the debates was not the main issue at stake.
During the final vote, those cast by 253 MPs - more then the established left
majority of 238 - signified the emergence of a
can only be speculated how much the events of February 1991 affected general
mood of the Crimean Tatar returnees and in particular, stimulated their
political mobilization under the guidance of the OKND. But it seemed plausible
that the traumatic experience of not being allowed, in any capacity, to have a
voice in a political decision-making process that would have been of paramount
importance to their future, as well as quite unfavourable
outcome of this process, had an impact on further developments. The law of 12
February 1991 "On the Restoration of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet
Socialist Republic" was condemned by the OKND statement of 8 March,
because "the determination of the statehood of national territories could
not be done by a simple majority of a population that had been resettled from
other territories" [i.e., the Russian community]. The OKND appeal to the
International Helsinki Committee on human rights stated that one more
"Russian-speaking republic" has been created in the ancient Crimean
Tatar land, thus violating the rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people.
Such an assessment of the reanimated Crimean ASSR was fully shared by Rukh - the then most popular Ukrainian movement for
independence and democracy. In March 1991, Rukh's
Council of Nationalities issued a special Statement on the Situation in
One of the
most far-reaching reactions to the restoration of the Crimean ASSR was the
decision by OKND to convene, in June 1991, the Second Kurultay
(National Assembly) of the Crimean Tatar people.  The Kurultay
lasted for five days (June 26-30) and adopted a number of resolutions,
statements and other documents.  Perhaps, the most significant of these was
the "Declaration on the National Sovereignty of the Crimean Tatar People."
It announced the establishment of the Mejlis of
Crimean Tatar people - the principal representative body of the whole people
between the sessions of Kurultay. It also stated that
the only subject of self-determination within the territory of Crimea is the
Crimean Tatar people, whose "political, economic, spiritual, and cultural
rebirth is possible only in its national sovereign state" and that it
would be based on "mutual respect between Crimean Tatars and all other
national and ethnic groups" and a strict observance of the rights of
"all people irrespective of their ethnic origin." Such a state was
defined as the main aim of the Crimean Tatar people to be pursued "using
all means provided by the international law." In this and other documents,
the hurried restoration of the Crimean ASSR without consulting with the Crimean
Tatars was recognized as an attempt to affix by legal means the consequences of
the deportation. In the appeals directed to the highest authorities of the
Of course, - as was easily predictable - there was no positive reaction from any of the entities addressed. At the same time, these points of the Declaration have been widely quoted by all of the opponents and adversaries who have rejected any negotiations on special rights for Crimean Tatars relating to their "indigenous status." Since then, the provisions of the Declaration, deliberately taken out of their historical context,  have been effectively used by anti-Crimean Tatar propaganda as confirmation of their sinister intentions to establish an ethno-centric Crimean Tatar state, threatening the Slavic population of the peninsula.
Therefore, in retrospect, it could be assumed that not only the actual situation in the Crimea during the late 80s and early 90s, but also the insensitive attitude of the then highest Ukraine's authorities who had neglected the appeals and demands of the Crimean Tatars, provoked a quick and effective mobilization and self-organization of the community, and promoted a certain radicalization of the Crimean Tatar political agenda.
It should be
noted that from the very beginning, the fledgling Ukrainian state has shared
the concerns of the Crimean Tatars about avoiding violent inter-ethnic conflict
definition of national minorities provided by Art. 3 states that national
minorities are any groups of Ukrainian citizens who are not ethnically
Ukrainian, share a national self-identity, and (voluntarily) associate on this
basis. This definition is broader than that usually used in the legislation of
other countries because it does not take into consideration the length of time
the ethnic groups lived in the lands now under
innovation introduced by this law was the creation of the Ministry on
Nationalities that would play the leading role in implementing state policy on
inter-ethnic relations. This Ministry initiated the drafting of a Concept of
In contrast to the smoothly passed law on national minorities, this draft drew a distinction between national minorities and indigenous peoples or, more explicitly, the Crimean Tatar people, whose representatives actively participated in the discussions on this matter during regular meetings of an informal and expanded working group. Existing international legal standards were taken into account, particularly, those provisions and definitions found in the Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, 1989, that came into force on 05.09.1991). At the same time, the Ukrainian version of "indigenousness" proceeded from the notion that indigenous peoples are a kind of minority that differ from ordinary national minorities because they have neither a kin-state nor another territory on which they had formed and developed as an ethnos.
these encouraging developments were halted in 1994 after the first President,
Leonid Kravchuk, failed to be re-elected, and his
successor Leonid Kuchma replaced most of the
high-ranking ministerial staff with loyalists. For the Crimean Tatars, the
dismissal of Oleksandr Yemets,
 Minister of Nationalities and Migration, and the subsequent appointment of
Mykola Shulga,  had
rather negative implications. All kinds of formal activities focused on
settling general Crimean and specifically Crimean Tatar issues (including
further discussions on the Draft Concept of Ethno-Politics in
notwithstanding the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the officials responsible
for developing of the appropriate legal solutions, public interest in the issue
did not wane, and public debates on the possibility to provide some specific
"indigenous rights" for Crimean Tatars persisted. The matter acquired
a new impetus during vigorous discussions on various drafts of the Constitution
of Ukraine which proceeded with the active involvement of
described above, particularly the continued, insistent demands of the Crimean
Tatars, and the public debates surrounding the different drafts of the
Constitution of Ukraine, did have some impact on the attitude of legislators.
As a result of a compromise reached by the left and right-centrist wings of the
parliament, the notion of "indigenous peoples" was, for the first
time, introduced into the Ukrainian legal terminology with the actual adoption
of the Constitution in the turbulent night session of
Very soon after the adoption of the Constitution, in compliance with
Art. 92 par. 3,  the Ministry of Justice
Concept listed the following objective criteria for the determination of those
ethnic groups in Ukraine that could be regarded as indigenous peoples: (a)
descent from ancestors who had traditionally inhabited certain geographical
regions of Ukraine in its current state borders; (b) the preservation of a
cultural, linguistic, and/or religious group identity which differs from that
of the titular ethnos and the identities of national minorities of Ukraine, and
a desire to further maintain and develop this identity; (c) the existence of
distinct historical traditions, social institutions, a system and organs of
self-governance and other traditional institutions; and (d) the absence of an
ethnically related national state or motherland beyond Ukraine's borders. It
can be seen that apart from those criteria usually used by international law,
 the last point reflects an important addition justified by the existing
realities and differences in the situations of the various ethnic groups in
also with the subjective criterion, namely, the expressed wish of a given
ethnic group to identify with the community of indigenous peoples,  the
draft made it clear that in
Working Group (WG) prepared also a draft law which, "in recognition of the
Crimean Tatar people's aspirations to preserve and further their ethnic identity,
traditional institutions, way of life, language, and creed within the
boundaries of the Ukrainian State where this people lives," embraced
practically all of the most urgent and topical issues raised repeatedly by the
Crimean Tatars throughout the history of their repatriation. It stated
unequivocally that "under this Law, the legal status of the Crimean Tatar
people shall be determined as that of an indigenous people of
drafts been immediately submitted to the VR Permanent Committees, considered in
a timely manner and, according to the optimistic scenario, approved at a
parliamentary session (as the Crimean Tatars and their supporters had hoped),
many subsequent developments and events would, perhaps, have proceeded in a
less confrontational manner. In particular, the problem of political
participation and representation in all branches of government might have been
legally resolved before the elections of March 1998, which were marred by
large-scale acts of protest undertaken by the Crimean Tatars, and reports of
clashes between groups of protesters and the local militia.  Since this did
not happen, most of the current sources of seething antagonism in
official level, the only serious discussion addressing the legal and political
aspects of providing the formal status of "indigenous people" to the
Crimean Tatars, occurred at a roundtable organized by the State Committee on
Nationalities and Migration on 2 October, 1998 (at the initiative of the then
Vice-Prime Minister Volodymyr Smoliy).
 It is interesting to note that despite the differences in views and
approaches, the general balance of the presentations favoured
such a solution. This opinion was further strengthened by a conclusion to be
found in a formal review, provided by the
the situation of the Crimean Tatars deteriorated even further after 23 December
1998, when the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, seemingly
ending heated debates and power struggling between Kyiv and Simferopol
that raged for almost a decade, was eventually adopted.  This remarkable
event was pushed forward not only by the Crimean power holders, but also by
international organizations, in particular, by the OSCE, and was anticipated as
an ultimate solution to a long-lasted crisis. However, as was predicted during
the parliamentary debates on the issue and confirmed by later developments,
this Constitution did not solve any major problems existing in the relationship
between the Crimean autonomy and the central authorities, as well as between
the Crimean legislature and the government of the ARC.  At the same time,
it definitely aggravated the plight and dissatisfaction on the part of the
Crimean Tatars whose aspirations were totally ignored. In terms of general
Although the detailed analysis of explicit and implicit reasons underlying the failure to develop a legislative framework dealing with the Crimean Tatars (and other minorities) is beyond the scope of the given paper, one should note the lack of consistency or any definite strategy in state policy relating to integration of the Crimean Tatars, as many political analysts and experts have pointed out.  The regrettable absence of continuity between those activities that had been performed by successive governments and deputies of the VR was also identified as a cause of the unsatisfactory implementation of the decisions once reached.  Characteristically, when the position of the same Ministry of Justice that had initiated the endeavours of the Working Group was evidently reversed, the aforementioned drafts were left without the kind of lobbying support needed to ensure their submission to the VR. Since the VR itself turned out rather reluctant to regard these issues as a priority, or rather, to examine them at all, the work done by the WG seemed futile, and Crimean Tatars' optimistic expectations of 1996-1997 were dashed.
In defiance of the sad fact that the Crimean Tatar issues had virtually disappeared from the VR agenda for several years following the adoption of the Basic Law of Ukraine, at the level of civil society the efforts to reanimate public and officials' interest in the unsolved Crimean Tatars problems continued. Some of these activities have been rather successful, in particular, those of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research that carried out in 1998-1999 a series of roundtables and seminars addressing, step by step, all particular aspects of the Crimean Tatar situation. To ensure a comprehensive discussion covering all of the existing views and approaches, executives, MPs, NGOs, scholars and, of course, representatives of the Crimean Tatar community were brought together.  In this way, positions of opponents and proponents with regard to the indigenous status for the Crimean Tatars were reaffirmed but more clearly formulated. And while the arguments of the supporters were mostly focused on the international standards and experiences of other countries, and repeated those stipulated by the draft documents mentioned above, the reasoning of the contenders adhered to several quite diverse notions and stereotypes, hardly exhibiting any internal coherence.  Their most widespread and frequently used arguments can be grouped as follows:
these points, representatives of executive and legislative bodies often state
From this brief account it can be seen that apart from the decisively negative political standpoint blankly rejecting any positive solution, a public unawareness on the issue is also an essential element contributing to the resistance to such an outcome. Poor understanding of the essence of the existing legal norms and provisions is further aggravated by the evident gap between the legal criteria and definitions of "indigenous peoples," and spontaneous perception of the term by people who are far away from juridical theories and practices. It follows that raising public awareness through wider informational campaigns would be a substantial component of a strategy aimed to ensure, eventually, the success of a sluggish legislative process concerning indigenous peoples and their rights. Up to now, the publications addressing the issue, as well as public discussions during seminars, conferences, roundtables etc. were engaging a rather limited circle of the participants, and included only a few of MPs whose ranks are entitled to pass a competent decision. A low level of understanding of the very concept of "indigenous peoples," demonstrated sometimes by civil servants, MPs, and ordinary public alike, can also be illustrated by a curious fact that many advocates of such a status to apply for the Crimean Tatars believe, at the same time, that "in Ukraine, there are two indigenous peoples, namely, Ukrainians and the Crimean Tatars." 
Be it as it
may be, those vigorous and comprehensive public
discussions of 1998-1999 perhaps contributed to the re-surfacing of the issue
at the level of the national legislature. Indeed, when MP Roman Bezsmertny (People's Democratic Party) produced the second,
less assertive version of the "status law," that one was officially
registered on 10 September 1999 and soon transferred for the consideration of
the Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations
(headed by Hennady Udovenko,
People's Rukh of Ukraine). After a year of
considering the draft by the Committee, on
It should be
acknowledged, however, that not so much public discussions and parliamentary
debates but, rather, protest actions of the Crimean Tatars resulted in certain
moves towards satisfying their demands. Let us recall that, for example, an
acceptance of providing for the Crimean Tatars a quota to the parliament of
a year of delays resulting from misinterpretations and discontent between the Mejlis and the Administration of President on some points
of the regulations on the Council's activities, an agreement was eventually
reached and approved by the next Presidential Decree dated
It should be noted, however, that the establishment of the Council, though usually regarded as a de-facto recognition of the Mejlis,  can in fact be viewed as only a palliative, still far from securing a genuine legal recognition of the plenipotentiary representative bodies of the Crimean Tatar people. Nor has this step prevented further severe attacks on the Mejlis on the part of Crimean leadership and local Russian nationalists' organizations. These continue to condemn it as an "illegal power structure," representing "not the Crimean Tatars community but Crimean Tatar extremists only." A pre-election period that is characterized by, alas, already traditional aggravation of the inter-ethnic tensions, brought even stronger charges, like the "organized criminal group which calls itself "Mejlis." 
continued manifestations of the overt malice and resentment, general attention
to and the respect for the self-governing bodies of the Crimean Tatars seem to
be on the rise. Convincing evidence for this is the Fourth Kurultay
that has been convened in
important event, addressing Crimean Tatars needs and demands at the national
level, occurred on
Apart from the VR deputies, representatives of the Crimean authorities, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar NGOs, as well as scholars and journalists interested in the problem, were invited to participate. The main speaker to cover the issue was the then Deputy Prime Minister Mycola Julinsky, while MP Refat Chubarov, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, was appointed as a co-rapporteur. Altogether, 16 speakers took part in the debates, addressing different aspects of the problems faced by the returnees, and displaying already long-standing, politically motivated differences in the opposing perceptions with regard to the legal-political rights to be provided for the Crimean Tatars. In fact, no particularly new points or approaches were raised by the speakers except, perhaps, a rather harsh presentation by the member of the Communist faction, MP Petro Baulin.  This deputy recalled what he named "the genocide perpetrated by Crimean Tatars in the past centuries against the Orthodox South-West Rus," as well as "bloody offensive by the Crimean Tatar allies of Germans during the Great Patriotic War."  A trend to avoid dealing with complicated legal-political issues by focusing instead on the less controversial socio-economic needs of the repatriates was easily observable, as well as the attempts to regard the Crimean Tatars as the "(formerly) deported people" rather than "indigenous people."  These trends were exaggerated by the regrettably low turnout of the MPs  among whom the Communists, as the most disciplined, prevailed. It is also noteworthy that the general level of comprehension of such an abstruse legal notion as indigenous peoples and their rights on the part of the MPs' ranks seemed even poorer than that reached by the participants of the roundtables mentioned above. 
Over the two weeks following the hearing, draft Recommendations were debated and eventually agreed upon by the representatives of the different VR factions. On April 20, this draft did not pass, and only after an additional concession made to the leftists the Recommendations were finally approved by the vote of 291 deputies.  The deputies turnout, higher than that during the hearing, presumably helped to pass the Recommendations that admitted, inter alia, a "dissatisfactory legal regulation of the process [of return and integration], and low effectiveness of the practical measures applied by bodies of the executive power for the solution of issues relating to the return and resettlement of [former] deportees in Ukraine." The recommendations per se have been addressed to the Parliament of Ukraine, the President, and the Cabinet of Ministers. The first two points read as follows:
retrospect, it should be noted that while the first issue is still far from
being realized, the second one has indeed been resolved, in particular, by the adoption
Tatars, especially those engaged in active public life, firmly believe that
"the whole world recognizes us as the indigenous people of
several international agencies involved in problems of the resettlement and
integration of former deportees in
surprisingly, while the urgency of easing socio-economic plight of returnees,
and the necessity to satisfy their cultural and educational needs have been
easily recognized and shared by all of these entities, the political demands
put forward by the Crimean Tatars have usually encountered much cooler
response. Therefore, the activities and programmes of
the UNDP, with some contribution from the International Organization on
Migration (IOM), were mostly focused on assisting the government of
since Rolf Ekeus' visit to Ukraine was postponed
until February 4, 2002, the opportunity to benefit from his valuable assistance
in order to amend timely the law on elections in the ARC has been missed.
Surprisingly, according to the information that appeared in Ukrainian
electronic and printed media, during his two-days stay in Ukraine and meetings
with the President, the Speaker of the VR, and the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, the HCNM seemed not pedaling the issue further - at least, in terms of
public record.  He expressed instead his deep appreciation of the Ukraine's
policy on minority rights and interethnic relations, and said that the OSCE is
seriously considering the projects that would provide for Ukraine financial aid
for the Crimean Tatar repatriates.  At the same time, Hennady
Udovenko, Head of the VR Committee on Human Rights,
National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, who also met with the OSCE HCNM,
did admit that Crimean Tatar issues remain to be a major concern of Ukrainian
ethno-politics. In particular, Mr. Udovenko referred
to the failure of solving legally a long-lasted dispute on the status of the
Crimean Tatars, of adopting a law on their political rehabilitation, and of
developing an appropriate legislation securing guaranteed representation of the
Crimean Tatars in the elective bodies of
As for the CoE, its interest in the Crimean Tatars, alerted by the continued plight of the community and the appeals sent by the Mejlis, was first expressed by organizing in 1999 a roundtable dedicated specifically to the return and reintegration of the Crimean Tatars. That roundtable, initiated by the CoE Directorate General for Social Affairs, included also visits to local communities.  It is interesting to note that the problems identified as those of major concern for returnees were then presented in the following order:
This, characteristically, set aside many of the legal-political issues claimed as crucial by the Crimean Tatar community.
step to address the issue of the Crimean Tatars was taken by the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Before including it into the agenda
of the PACE regular session, its Committee on
Migration, Refugees and Demography was instructed to prepare a report on the
current situation, and to draft appropriate recommendations. The rapporteur appointed by the Committee was Lord Ponsonby (United Kingdom, Socialist Group), who visited
This particular point reveals that the Rapporteur, unlike Crimean Tatar  and some of the Ukrainian experts, has not performed as somebody sufficiently knowledgeable about this sensitive issue. No wonder, his report has aroused strong criticisms on the part of the Mejlis leaders  and, sometimes, rather sarcastic responses from the Crimean Tatar community.  Regrettably, Lord Ponsonby's position can also be regarded as undermining the justified attempts to implement provisions of the Ukrainian Constitution. Nevertheless, concluding the debates in Strasbourg,  run by a sheer coincidence on 5 April 2000, - the day of a parliamentary hearing in Kyiv - an impressive Recommendation 1455,  containing a number of concrete points shaping a strategy for further actions, was adopted. Inter alia, it calls on international community and its particular agencies like the Development Bank, also the European Union and the CoE member states "to contribute generously, at bilateral and multilateral levels, to assistance projects targeting returnee Crimean Tatars." Moreover, the key words "indigenous peoples," though used rather implicitly, can be found in paragraph VIII of the Recommendation that says: "invite the Government of Ukraine and the regional authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to study the experience of other member states of the Council of Europe concerning the representation of minorities and indigenous peoples, with a view to securing the effective representation of the Crimean Tatars in national, Crimean and local public affairs."
developments have shown, the attention paid by the CoE
to the Crimean Tatar issues is not withering, which is an encouraging sign. The
PACE debates were followed by the next study visit to Crimea on 20-29 September
2000, the results of which were discussed by the roundtable in Kyiv organized
jointly by the CoE, the Ukrainian Ministry of
Justice, the State Department for Nationalities and Migration, and the
International Renaissance Foundation. The report on a mission,
and its conclusions and recommendations have been presented by Marcel Zwamborn from the European Committee on Migration (one more
of the CoE structural units, dealing with social and
legal aspects of the integration process). This time, it was admitted that
"the return and integration of the formerly deported peoples of the
with the first CoE round table, the shift of the attention towards legal-political issues, and growing
recognition of their importance, are evident. This change could also be
assumed proceeding from the CoE Committee of
Ministers response to the Recommendation 1455,  and the presentations at
the third CoE roundtable held in
the CoE, like the OSCE, tends to regard the Crimean
Tatars as a national minority. Therefore, from this perspective the only
legally binding instrument to provide for their rights is the CoE Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities (FCNM), entered into force on 01.02.1998, of which
to the CoE, the UNO is traditionally engaged in
issues of indigenous peoples' rights, and the governmental experts of the
Working Group, established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 1995,
continue to work on a draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
(The draft had in fact been prepared by the independent experts, representing
mostly the indigenous communities themselves, a few years before the WG was
commissioned to such a task). Since 1994, Nadir Bekirov,
a member of the Mejlis, has actively participated in
all sessions of the Working Group, including the last one taking place in
conclusion, it is important to emphasize that although political participation
and representation in both elective and executive governmental bodies, a formal
status of the Mejlis and Kurultay,
land issues and other matters of legal-political nature have eventually been
recognized by international community as urgent and topical, it has never been
proposed to solve them all together in a package. Accordingly, the initiative
to address these issues by a bill on indigenous status was never encouraged.
 Indeed, apart from some of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar diaspora, and a few independent experts from abroad favouring this idea , no support has so far been
provided for its implementation. Nor was the Ukrainian legislature ever
recommended by any international intergovernmental organization to at least
consider the "status law" drafts. Moreover, it should be heeded that
Current situation: The Crimean Tatars and Elections-2002 
Nowadays, the most urgent issue of all of the legal and political problems faced by the Crimean Tatars concerns their representation in the elective bodies, particularly in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Its actuality is stressed by the fact that after the abolishment of a temporary quota for formerly deported ethnic groups that was valid for a period between 1994-1998, no one representative of the Crimean Tatar community was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the ARC in March 1998.  Taking into account the realities of the Crimean situation, the purely majoritarian electoral system introduced instead could hardly have brought any other results. Such an outcome may be explained by the fact that from the very beginning of the repatriation process, the Crimean Tatars were deliberately settled in such a dispersed way that in no one of the 100 constituencies they might have formed a majority, or at least some 40 % of voters.  Besides this, unlike the situation of 1994, in 1998 almost 100,000 Crimean Tatars, who were not yet citizens of Ukraine, were not allowed to take part in the elections. This decision, perceived as discriminatory by the Crimean Tatars has also attracted attention of some international organizations, in particular, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. The letters and recommendations developed by structural units of these organizations address, inter alia, this particular issue.  Therefore, the necessity to adopt a new law before the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the ARC on 31 March 2002 (coinciding with the elections to the VR of Ukraine and local bodies of self-governance) seemed obvious. Therefore, following a resolution passed by Verkhovna Rada in May 2001, several draft laws were prepared and submitted for the consideration of the Ukrainian parliament.
One of them, worked out by Jury Kliuchkovsky (People's Rukh of Ukraine faction), proceeded from the notion that the new law should comply with the law on the elections to the VR of Ukraine, but also guarantee for the Crimean Tatars at least some seats in the Crimean parliament. According to this draft, elections in the Crimean autonomy were to be based on the same mixed majoritarian/proportionate system as that in force for all-national elections (50 deputies to be elected in single-mandate constituencies, and 50 on party lists in a multi-mandate constituency). The single-mandate constituencies should have been of two different types: 41 - of ordinary majoritarian type (covering the whole territory of Crimea), and the rest of the remaining nine to be organized as national constituencies. Seven of the latter had to be for the Crimean Tatars, one for the Karaits and Krymchaks (the two ethnic groups autochthonous for Crimea, and potential candidates for the status of "indigenous peoples"), and one more for formerly deported national minorities - Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Germans. The right to nominate candidates for national constituencies would be provided for the appropriate national assemblies; the participation of a voter in a national constituency would have been determined by his/her individual wish only (expressed by a personal written application). In case of the absence of such an application, a voter was supposed to vote in an ordinary majoritarian constituency (in this way, the principle of "one person - one vote" would have been observed).
From this brief description it can be seen that the mechanisms proposed by the author would indeed secure the right of indigenous peoples, as well as of formerly deported national minorities in (multinational) Crimea to get their representation in the parliament of the ARC. In particular, this draft recognizes the specific situation of the Crimean Tatars, for whom, let us repeat, in contrast to other formerly deported ethnic groups, Crimea is their only homeland. This principal difference makes their insistent demands for political rights and equal participation in the decision-making processes in the ARC quite understandable and fully justified.
the very beginning of negotiating new "rules of the game" for the
elections in Crimea, a vigorous campaign against any legal provisions to secure
Crimean Tatars representation in the VR of the ARC, headed and orchestrated by
its Speaker (and leader of the Crimean communists) Leonid Hrach,
started in Crimea. Any move in this direction was classified as a violation of
the Crimean and Ukrainian Constitutions, creating a dangerous precedent of
providing privileges for certain ethnic groups that would provoke violent
inter-ethnic clashes in
counter the endeavours to secure the Crimean Tatars'
representation, another draft law on elections in the ARC was prepared.  It
was presented by the MP from Crimea Lev Mirimsky
third draft submitted by Nataliya Shtepa
(Communist party) provided that only proportionate system had to be used for
electing deputies to the VR of the ARC. The same idea has also been vigorously
supported and lobbied by the incumbent Communist leadership of the Crimean
parliament reckoning that their party - the one with the strongest position in
the ARC - would therefore take all the advantages in case of adopting a
proportionate system for the next elections. However, during the debates on all
of the draft laws submitted to the session of the VR of Ukraine on
Despite rather convincing reasons and explanations of the necessity to ensure representation in the Crimean parliament of the formerly deported Crimean Tatar people and national minorities, that were presented during the meetings of permanent Committees and later on the VR sittings,  on 5 July Mirimsky's draft passed the first reading. The second reading, though included into the VR agenda for October, was postponed several times. Those suggestions made by the VR Committee on State Building and Local Self-Governance during the preparation for the second reading, rendered it almost identical to the Law "On Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine" adopted on October 18. The proposals developed by MPs Chubarov and Kliuchkovsky to ensure representation of the Crimean Tatars in the VR of the ARC were turned down by the same Committee. 
on 18 October President of
Since the President publicly committed not to sign a law containing even an element of proportionality, a Working Group, consisting of the MPs and governmental officials, was formed with a purpose to find a compromise acceptable for all interested parties. Communist members of the group, however, have again demonstrated their principal disagreement with the idea that Crimean Tatars should participate in the Crimean elections on the "ethno-national basis," and rejected all suggestions containing such kind of provisions. After this, Refat Chubarov resigned from the WG and prepared, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, a draft law (two drafts actually) that he submitted to the Presidential administration and other bodies responsible for bringing them to the attention of the Parliament. Briefly, one of the drafts provided for the establishment of several national electoral constituencies, whereas the other proposed all-Crimean multi-mandate majoritarian constituency for former deportees, with 12 candidates having the highest rating to receive the deputies mandates. Commenting on this situation, Mr. Chubarov said that if the President of Ukraine would throw behind the law on the Crimean elections the same weight that he puts behind other important legal matters, the parliament would certainly pass the Crimean electoral law in one of the versions acceptable to the Crimean Tatars. Moreover, he believes that "the problem of introduction or non-introduction of new mechanisms to ensure our representation in power bodies is directly linked to the political will of the Ukrainian leadership." 
the problem of representation in governmental bodies of
Regrettably, the speeches by the President and the appeals of the Kurultay did not influence the left-wing MPs, as was evidenced by further proceedings in the VR and its permanent Committees.
several approaches were again proposed in order to avoid vetoing the draft by
the President and at the same time, ensuring the Crimean Tatars representation
in the VR of the ARC. One of them allowed the Crimean Election Commission to
form separate election constituencies for the returned deportees; another suggested
that while establishing ordinary election constituencies, the demographics of
returnees should be taken into account. However, when the VR session on
attempt to come back (contrary to parliamentary regulations) to the second
voting of this already rejected draft on 29 November had failed, too.
Therefore, the old, not amended, law on the elections in the ARC would formally
remain in effect, and as a result, election campaign in the Crimean autonomy
would have begun on
the situation turned absurd indeed, and of course nothing was ready for such an
early start in the ARC, it became obvious that some urgent steps were needed to
overcome such a collision. Therefore, one more draft
"On Changes and Additions to the Law of
By that time, this odd situation came into attention of Rolf Ekeus, the new OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. As was mentioned above, he stressed the necessity to introduce, through the new law, the mechanisms ensuring guaranteed and proportionate representation of Crimean Tatars in the parliament of the ARC. In the letter dated 4 December 2001, Mr. Ekeus expressed his concerns relating to the issue, and offered the services of his office in assisting Ukrainian officials to consider which of possible specific forms of such an arrangement may be the most appropriate way forward, also expressed his intention to visit Ukraine as soon as possible. While the visit was postponed, and the proposed intention not realized, the draft mentioned above was submitted by MP Roman Bezsmertny (People's-Democratic Party) first to the Committee, then to the VR session on 13 December 2001. As Mr. Bezsmertny explained, its urgent adoption would save time for continuing to work on another, more substantial draft that was meant to ensure the Crimean Tatar representation by proposing, once again, the establishment of either all-Crimean constituency for former deportees, or a number of national majoritarian (single-mandate) constituencies. In parallel with these endavours, the Communist faction insistently lobbied their own draft prepared by MP Anatoliy Drobotov and submitted to the same sitting. This draft differed from that presented earlier by Myrymsky by only one position. Namely, the right to nominate candidates would have been provided to public associations pursuing development of national cultures. Though this amendment was claimed to be a concession aimed at increasing chances of different ethnic groups of Crimea, its opponents stated that it was just a trick to compel President to repeat the previous objections against applying the mixed electoral system to local elections, including those in the ARC, and to veto the whole draft. Nevertheless, this draft passed the first reading on 13 December  but failed the second reading on December 20. That meant that the old law would automatically remain in effect, and that formally, the election campaign was already going on in the Crimea beginning from 2 December. Though actually, nothing of this kind had yet occurred, it was already clear that in all probability, the old majoritarian system would be preserved for the elections in the ARC.
Indeed, on 17 January 2002, the VR of Ukraine passed eventually the law on the amendments to the law of Ukraine "On Elections of Deputies to the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea." Only insignificant changes concerning purely organizational matters, and bringing them in line with the provisions of the law on elections to the VR of Ukraine, were adopted. That meant that the essence of the law of 12 February 1998, that had ignored any mechanisms to ensure Crimean Tatar representation, remained unchanged. Moreover, the last opportunity to ameliorate the situation by drawing the borders of the constituencies in such a way as taking into account the places of Crimean Tatar compact settlements was not used. It was not a surprise because after some struggle, Leonid Hrach succeeded in forming the Central Elective Commission (CEC) of Crimea, consisting of 15 members, almost exclusively from his supporters. As a result, electoral districts have been established and re-established in a manner favouring the candidates from only one political force that caused immediate protest statements from the Crimean Tatars , also from the "For Transparent Power" and other political parties and blocks opposing the Communist "Hrach's Block." This and a number of other flaws of the CEC were characterized as a "total outlawry" by some other well-known public figures and politicians in Crimea.  Not only the eventual establishment of the constituencies was disputed; the very decision on the elections in Crimea and the establishment of its Central Election Commission, adopted by the VR of the ARC on 19 December 2001, were questioned by many influential politicians and officials, among them, by the Prime Minister of Crimean government, Valeriy Gorbatov, and the Representative of President of Ukraine in Crimea, Anatoliy Korniychuk. It was stated, in particular, that the juridical service attached to Mr. Korniychuk's office considered as invalid the whole Resolution of 19 December concerning elections in Crimea. Violations of many regulations and legal acts were identified; besides, the very decision was adopted by deputies' turnout too low to allow it to pass.  Some further decisions of the Crimean Electoral Commission, in particular, that concerning the use in electoral ballots of Russian language only, were also claimed illegal.
While these protests might have become a matter for consideration of the Constitutional Court, whatever the outcome, the crucial failure of Ukrainian legislators to adopt in due time any legal mechanisms ensuring the Crimean Tatar representation in the VR of the ARC and in the elective bodies at lower levels, is already a matter of fact. The scale of this failure is further augmented by the fact that all the recommendations and proposals issued by the Council of Europe,  the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities,  the President, and a number of MPs concerned with finding a proper and just solution to this problem have been ignored. This outcome also suggests some undesirable trends within the Ukraine's parliament, where leftists proved able to impose their will and mobilize a majority if not to vote for all of their proposals, then at least to block those of the opponents. This situation resembles to some extent that of 1991 (referred to by the first part of the paper), thus raising doubts as to the actual advancement towards democracy and European standards of minority protection reached over the years of Ukraine's independence. Also, these developments compel the Crimean Tatar political elite to believe that such a poor performance exhibits insufficient political will rather than simply a weakness on the part of actors repeatedly declaring their commitment to resolve the matter positively. This time, the consequences of their disillusionment and disappointment may be much more far-reaching and threatening than ever before.
Because, as rightly noted Oxana Shevel,  this was a déjà vu from the situation prior to 1998 elections, when the parliament rejected presidential proposal for a Crimean Tatar quota, while the president rejected parliamentary proposal for a proportional system, following which a majoritarian system was introduced as a compromise between the President and the Left. That situation had left Crimean Tatars without their deputies in the VR of the ARC. It should also be remembered that at that time, the situation was aggravated by the fact that approximately 90 thousand of the Crimean Tatar repatriates lacked Ukrainian citizenship, and therefore, were not allowed to participate in the election process. This provided authorities with the argument that they were doing their best to solve the problem, whereas the resistance from other (CIS) countries was actually responsible for the unsettled election issues, and for the outcome unfavourable for the Crimean Tatars. This time, the repetition of the same situation with the elections in Crimea would most probably demonstrate that the Ukrainian authorities and society as a whole bear actual responsibility for leaving this urgent issue virtually unheeded.
Despite the failure in finding a legal solution for guaranteeing the Crimean Tatar representation in the elective bodies, this time, Mejlis decided not to boycott the elections but to concentrate on active participation instead. On 19 January 2002, the second session of the Fourth Kurultay of Crimean Tatar people approved nomination of 55 candidates in ordinary single-mandate constituencies of Crimea. According to MP Refat Chubarov, the decision to limit the number of candidates, instead of covering all of the 100 constituencies, was conditioned by the politically expedient intention to cooperate with other partners in order to prevent a victory of the leftist hardliners. Therefore, in other 45 constituencies the Crimean Tatars were going to support candidates from other democratic blocks and teams. 
The chances for the Crimean Tatars to reach sufficient representation in the next composition of the Crimean parliament under ordinary majoritarian system were usually estimated to be rather poor. (According to a leading Crimean political analyst, in the best case they could count on 5-6 seats only) . Although the successful campaign for the acquisition of Ukrainian citizenship, indeed, made a difference in comparison with the situation of 1998 elections, there was a number of other negative factors affecting the probability of the Crimean Tatar candidates to win regional and local elections. Among them, the lack of financial resources sufficient to compete on equal grounds with the candidates supported by the Communist party or by pro-Russian political movements, could be named. One more serious problem appeared to be a dispersion of the anti-Communist opposition in Crimea that would demand from its members a complicated and sophisticated political maneuvering in order to reach a viable agreement on not competing with each other's candidates. 
In general, the electoral landscape-2002 in the ARC looked rather variegated politically and ideologically. The main rivals on the scene were, by all means, the "Hrach's Block" and the "Kunitsyn's Team," the latter headed by the ex-Prime Minister of Crimea.  (Last summer, the dismissal of Serhiy Kunitsyn seemed finalizing the protracted struggle between the government and the parliament of the ARC, and Hrach's previous unsuccessful attempts to get rid of this strong opponent. Entering the election campaign, Kunitsyn has managed, however, to recruit Crimean deputies and to form the biggest faction named "For the United Crimea." He also organized, together with the incumbent Prime Minister and the Representative of the President, a local branch of the "For the United Ukraine" (pro-governmental) electoral block that was now recognized as the most potent, highly professional, and having a good chance to get no less than 40 seats in the newly elected legislature of the ARC.)  Apart from the "Kunitsyn's Team" as a probable partner, Public Committee "For a Transparent Power" led by Andriy Senchenko and Serhiy Velyzhansky could also be named as potentially friendly for the Crimean Tatar candidates. This entity was believed to ensure up to ten deputies, whereas approximately the same number of seats was expected to be filled by the Social Democrats (United), and by the Russian block. This evaluation predicted for the Hrach's block a much more modest accomplishment of around 25 % than it widely advertised. 
It should be added, however, that the later events of the unprecedentedly turbulent election campaign in Crimea have virtually toppled all analytical prognoses and considerations. The new turn was started by a sensational decision of the Tsentralny district court of Simferopol to cancel the registration of Leonid Hrach (who until that time was absolutely confident of his being a "political master" and "leader of Crimea") for the elections to the ARC legislature on the grounds of untruthful data submitted in his declaration on income and possessions, also some other violations of the enacted legal regulations. This happening, having raised a turmoil not only in Crimea but in Russia as well, has been followed by the failed attempt to take revenge by abolishing the registration of 34 of Hrach's main rivals (including the two Crimean Tatar candidates), and the threats to hold in Crimea a referendum on joining Russia, and to disrupt the whole election campaign if the court's ruling remains in force.  All these developments drastically changed the political landscape in Crimea and beyond. As a result, wide possibilities for harsh statements, appeals, speculations, rallies, tent camps and other protest actions appeared - this time, being realized not by the Crimean Tatars, traditionally regarded as the main, if not only, source and cause of conflict in Crimea, but by Hrach's Communist supporters.  Although these public manifestations never proved able to engage more than several hundreds of participants - mostly pensioners and a dozen of sporting-looking youth - some alarmist reaction can be identified in media responses to the development of the situation in Crimea. 
These events were also accompanied by a number of strong statements issued by influential Russian politicians. As has been reported, in particular, by the RFE/RL, a group of prominent Russian political leaders, presenting a wide spectrum of political orientations and preferences - Sergei Shoigu, Yurii Luzhkov, Gennadii Zyuganov, Boris Nemtsov, and Gennadii Raikov - appealed to Kuchma. They called on him to "restore justice" with regard to Hrach (meaning, evidently, that the President should somehow abolish the court decision - an idea looking rather odd in the context of "rule of law" rhetoric of the same personalities). "The removal from the electoral campaign under invented pretexts of Leonid Hrach, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic [of Crimea], is evidence of the activation of the forces that intend to undermine the relations between Ukraine and Russia," they wrote in the appeal.  These and other serious complications accompanying the election campaign in Crimea might have led to the eventual derangement of the elections to the autonomous legislature, thus creating for the Crimean Tatars - and not only for them - a new sort of challenges to cope with.
The situation looked somewhat better for the Crimean Tatars when it came to their representation in the legislature of Ukraine. During the last session of the Kurultay, an agreement on political collaboration between Mejlis and People's Rukh of Ukraine that had been signed on 31 July 2001 was confirmed. Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov were recommended as the candidates to be included into (the "passable" part of) the Rukh party list.  Soon it became clear that Rukh would take part in all-Ukrainian elections not on its own but within the rather potent block "Nasha Ukraina," headed by one of the most popular politician, former Prime Minister Victor Yuschenko. It meant that the promise to put the Crimean Tatar candidates into the "guaranteed" part of the list converted into a much more difficult task of preserving their positions on the list common for the whole block. Indeed, at the "Nasha Ukraina" conference convened on 16 January 2002, general electoral list was eventually approved; on this list, Mustafa Dzhemilev ranked 28th, whereas Refat Chubarov 60th.  The same conference also nominated the candidates to be supported by the block in the single-mandate majoritarian constituencies; in ten of them covering the whole territory of Crimea, six names were those of members of the Mejlis. 
As to the elections to the local bodies of self-government, including city and village councils, some competition for the Crimean Tatar votes was expected to come from parties that were not "sanctioned" by the Kurultay. For example, Ahtem Chiigoz, the vice-Chairman of the Bakhchesaray regional Mejlis, in private discussion noted that the NDP (People's Democratic Party) and some other all-Ukrainian parties were already trying to engage Crimean Tatar electorate on the lower local levels of elections circumventing regional Mejlises and the central Mejlis. 
Therefore, it seemed that in the context of Elections-2002, the most important task for the Crimean Tatars to gain at least proportionate representation in the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea remained the least likely to be accomplished. Acknowledging this prospect, Mustafa Dzhemilev told Rene Bibo, the Second Secretary of the USA Embassy to Ukraine, that "The Crimean Tatar people is interested in democratic majority in the parliament of the ARC, because even 20 Crimean Tatar deputies would not be able to influence the decision-making process in such a way as to make it favourable for us." 
Although the whole story of the elections in Crimea on 31 March 2002, as well as all the preceding and succeeding events, is beyond the scope of this paper, a brief on actual results is worth including here. It is also interesting to compare the actual outcome with expectations and prognostications made by many political analysts, as well as with the results of the previous elections in 1998.
Concerning the all-Ukrainian multi-mandate constituency electing half of the VR (225 deputies) according to proportionate system, the most important result is that "Nasha Ukraina" block headed by reformist ex-premier Viktor Yuschenko has won 23.57 % of votes, or 6 108 088, thus leaving - for the first time - the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) at the second place with 19.98 % (5 178 074).  Accordingly, the number of deputies from this block elected under proportionate system, amounts to 70; this means that both Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov who ran for seats in the VR on this block list, entered the Ukrainian parliament - in full compliance with the expectations of practically all political analysts and sociologists. Though this time, the exclusive rights of the Mejlis to represent (ethnic) Crimean Tatars in Ukrainian parliament have been disrupted by Zarema Katusheva, elected on the communist party ticket.  It should also be noted that national democrats notably improved their position in Crimea, since there were 94.067 or 9.77 % votes for "Nasha Ukraina" in multi-mandate constituency. It accounts for additional 7,683 votes when compared with results of elections in 1998 for all of the parties that can be considered predecessors of the "Nasha Ukraina" block. 
the elections in
As to the elections to the Crimean legislature and local councils, the best outcome consists, perhaps, in the fact that the elections did occur in defiance of the repeated endavours to block them by different means, and to destabilize fragile political peace in the peninsula. Despite blackmail, threats and protest actions organized by Hrach and his supporters (with substantial financial and in-kind help for him coming from abroad - mainly, from Russia) and many contradictory and controversial appeals to and decisions of the courts and the Crimean Elective Commission, the CEC eventually recognized elections valid in all of the 100 Crimean constituencies.  (Although up to date, only 95 deputies are officially registered, whereas five are still waiting for the eventual court decisions).
For the Crimean Tatars, the results turned out better than it had been anticipated. Six Crimean Tatars supported by Kurultay, and one from the "Kunitsyn's team" were elected to the VR of the ARC (one more ethnic Crimean Tatar, Lentun Bezaziyev, entered the Crimean legislature as a member of the pro-communist "Hrach's block"). Since the election of Server Memedliayev, one of the Crimean Tatar winners (constituency # 70, Kirovsky region) was later cancelled by a court decision, this means that six officially registered representatives of the Crimean Tatar people, or seven ethnic Crimean Tatars (6 + 1 formula) are officially registered as deputies of the 100-seat Crimean VR (currently, there are 93 members registered as deputies). Remarkably, this time Crimean Tatars got more mandates than representatives of the Russian block that gained only 5 seats.  General ethnic composition of the Crimean deputies elected in 2002 is as follows: there are 41 Russians, 35 Ukrainians, seven Crimean Tatars, four Jews, two Gagauzians, one Czech, one Greek, one Armenian, and one Abkhaz.  Apart from the relatively successful outcome for the Crimean Tatars, another important feature of the recent elections to the VR of the ARC consists of a significant drop of the communists' popularity.  Overall failure of all of the tricks used by the summoned (and well-paid) Russian "political technologists" to secure their employers' victory, should also be noted. 
Moreover, despite all endeavours to prevent registration of the elected deputies and disrupt preparation for the first session of the VR of the ARC scheduled for April 29, this session not only took place duly, but also managed to elect the speaker and appoint the premier of the Crimean government. At this session, crushing defeat of Hrach (who received his deputy mandate in defiance of the latest of court decisions, and personally participated in the voting) has become evident: Borys Deich, proposed for speaker by non-communist majority, obtained 52 votes, while his rival Leonid Hrach received only 22. During the election of the Crimean premier, Serhiy Kunitsyn (former premier dismissed in June 2001 by Hrach) received 64 votes. On May 15, during the second session of the Crimean legislature, one more important step forward has been done: Ilmi Umerov, an outstanding leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, former (rather successful) vice-Premier of the Crimean government headed by Anatoliy Franchuk, has been elected as a vice-speaker. This occurred despite the violent resistance of the communist faction, and in defiance of their previous strong statements about the intention to prevent just such an outcome. Moreover, during the same two "package" voting for the Presidium of the Crimean VR and for the Crimean government, Crimean Tatars, having only six deputies, gained also quite visible representation in the Cabinet of Ministers of the ARC. Now, Edip Gafarov (former head of the Republican Committee on Nationalities and Former Deportees) became a vice-Premier, whereas Aziz Abdullayev is now Minister of Industry, and Server Saliyev occupied the post vacated by Edip Gafarov. All this occurred very smoothly, without any protracted or even brief "battles," and demonstrating amazingly unanimous voting (for 15 members of the Presidium voted 79 deputies out of 94 present, whereas for the government (consisting of 31 members) - 94 out of 95.  In this context, a question may duly arise about communists participation and their unexpectedly mild attitude towards persons that have been noisily and repeatedly announced unacceptable "enemies." The answer could be find in a very pragmatic and prudent approach of satisfying their curbed appetite for power by providing for them four seats in the Presidium, and two posts in the government.
these events, clearly signifying the end of "Hrach's
era" in the
regard to the results pertaining to local elective bodies, Sinaver
Kadyrov, the Mejlis
coordinator for the elections in
general, the proposed solution for addressing all of the major problems of the
Crimean Tatars simultaneously by providing them with the legal status of
"indigenous people of
very uniqueness of the Crimean Tatars' case demands, however, innovative
approaches that may lie beyond the framework of standard legal and
administrative measures used to secure minority rights. This autochtonous people that once had their own well developed
state, the Crimean Khanate (lasted for over three centuries until the Russian
The shameful protracted story of the failed attempts to ensure the Crimean Tatars' political participation by changing the election legislation can by itself serve as convincing evidence for the need and urgency to adopt such a comprehensive law. But even if some amendments were adopted, they could again prove to be temporary. Since in trying to avoid the politically least acceptable view that the Crimean Tatars are entitled to guaranteed representation in governmental bodies on the basis of their "indigenousness," the tactics chosen by the interested parties have been to link this right to the consequences of deportation. It would inevitably follow that had these consequences already been a part of the past (or simply declared as such), the need for any kind of affirmative action for the Crimean Tatar people could be regarded as unnecessary. This, however, would leave intact the principal cause of conflict between the Crimean Tatar minority and the majority of the Crimean population imposing its will through "majority-based democracy" procedures and therefore easily circumventing any Crimean Tatars objections not supported by legal mechanisms. In this way, the Crimean vicious circle would endure.
Accordingly, it can easily be predicted that without a "status law," any further attempt to resolve any issue - be it representation, or the legalization of self-elected bodies, or land rights, or language and education problems - would, in all probability, face the same difficulties and the same resistance (and the same poor prospects of success). The inevitable implications are that precious time and human resources will continue to be wasted on fruitless and dangerous confrontation, thus hampering the further harmonization of Crimean Tatar-Ukrainian relations and the genuine integration of the Crimean Tatar people into Ukrainian society. It is also clear that the attempts to implement those decisions, decrees, and recommendations that have been adopted by the executive authorities but not backed by the comprehensive legal framework, always encounter serious difficulties essentially reducing their effectiveness. 
additional reason for the adoption of a "status law" relates to
pending draft legislation on the rehabilitation of formerly deported ethnic
groups, as well as on the amendments to the law on national minorities. Their
processing - in fact, the whole process of furthering minority-related
legislation - is hampered by the major obstacle of the unresolved issue of a
legally defined difference between national minorities and indigenous peoples.
The impetus for this process had been expected to come from the Concept of
can be added that, in fact, the status of indigenous people for the Crimean
Tatars might rather be regarded as that of a "nation without its own
statehood." Since some special rights for this kind of ethnic entities are
not yet enshrined in international law (though already addressed by academics
and the research community,  this Ukrainian initiative seems worth more
serious attention and international support than it has received thus far. By
passing such a law, especially if combined with joining ILO Convention 169, an
agreement would be reached between the State and the most vulnerable ethnic
any better, more viable and realistic solution instead of the "status
law" be recommended? The whole history of Crimean
Tatars repatriation, which is also the history of their continued struggle for
recognition as a "people," with the ensuing right to internal
self-determination within the borders of today's
In: "The Role of International Organizations and Donor Institutions in
Solving Problems of Integration into Ukrainian Society of Persons Deported on
Account of their Ethnic Origin from the Territory of Crimea." Collection
of materials from the Round Table on
 See: Kryms'ki Studii # 3, 2000, pp.63-66.
This period is comprehensively covered by "Politics in and around
For broader context of the legislative proceedings on elections in the ARC, see
"Crimean Election Law and Formation of Political Climate in the
Autonomy," Research Update Vol. 8, # 4/252,
In addition to the three consecutive programmes on
repatriation and resettlement of former deportees, on
 Four other groups of former deportees, namely, Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans, and Greeks constitute, all together, less than 2 % of all the repatriates.
The repatriation of the Crimean Tatars was enormously delayed compared to that
of all other formerly deported nationalities of the
 See speeches of the MPs Semenets, Koziarsky, Shevchenko, Volkovets'ky et al. Stenographic report of the two sittings of the SC of the Ukr.SSR on 12 February 1991, published (in Ukrainian) in Kryms'ki Studii, # 5-6, 2001, pp. 33-60.
This period is comprehensively covered by "Politics in and around
Published in the Collection of Documents by the Association "For
inter-ethnic peace and understanding in
The Kurultay of 1991 was named the Second in order to
memorize the First Kurultay of November 1917 that had
declared the establishment of the
 Available (in Russian) at http://www.crimeatau.org.ua
It should be remembered that at that time, the situation in
About 92 % of voters supported the Act on
By that time, around 140,000 Crimean Tatars had returned, therefore, their
votes should have been an essential part of those 561,500 residents of
See, for example,"Who
Has a Right to
 On this occasion, however, Refat Chubarov was allowed to present Crimean Tatars' claims to the session of the VR.
 Available (in Ukrainian) at http://www.rada.kiev.ua/cgi-bin/putfile.cgi
Oleksandr Yemets, Deputy of
the VR and member of the Reform and Order Party (PRP), from the very beginning
of his political career in the late 80s and until the tragic death after a car
 To some extent, this might have been determined by personal views and preferences of the new minister, who in his previous capacity of academics and expert gained a reputation of a staunch opponent of indigenous status for Crimean Tatars. Also, Professor Mykola Shulga, the highly competent sociologist and former member of the Central Committee of the CPU, ideologically closely associated with the left wing.
The last draft, submitted by the then Prime Minister Victor Yuschenko
on behalf of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and registered by the VR on
08.08.2000, is an abbreviated version of the earlier elaborations, containing
just a schematic outline of such categories as "national minorities"
and "indigenous peoples." Remarkably, in the draft's section listing
the priorities for further legislation strengthening a legal basis for
See, for example, the letters prepared by the Association "For
inter-ethnic peace and understanding in
 See "The Constitutional Process in the Autonomous Republic of Crimean in the Context of Interethnic Relations and Conflict Settlement" by Natalya Belitser and the references therein, Kryms'ki Studii, # 2, 2000, pp. 45-59.
This paragraph reads that the rights of indigenous peoples are determined by
the laws and legislative acts of
 Both Ukrainian and English versions of the two drafts were later published in Kryms'ki Studii # 1 (7), 2001.
Fore more details on the existing definitions and criteria, see report by Natalya Belitser, in:
"Crimean Tatars: "National Minority or Indigenous People?," UNCPD, Kyiv,
The view on this criterion as suitable for the purpose of defining the Crimean
Tatars as an indigenous people seems shared by Max van der
Stoel, the OSCE High Commissioner on National
Minorities. In his letter of
Also, it could be noted that the approach proposed by the Draft as early as in 1996, does not look outdated if compared with the definitions and criteria developed later. See, for example, "The Rights of Minorities: A Declaration of Liberal Democratic Principles Concerning Ethnocultural and National Minorities and Indigenous Peoples," adopted on
 According to Art. 1 par. 2 of the ILO Convention 169, "Self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention apply."
 The actual language used by ILO Convention 169 (Art. 1 par. 3) reads as follows: "The use of the term people in this Convention shall not be construed as having any implications as regards the rights which may attach to the term under international law."
 For more details, see "Repatriation of the Crimean Tatars: A Chronicle of Events" by Julia Tyschenko and Vyacheslav Pikhovshek, published by the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political research (UNCPD), Kyiv, 1999, pp. 195-215 (in Ukrainian).
See "Informational report on the roundtable
concerning the issues of indigenous peoples in
See "The Constitutional Process in the Autonomous Republic of Crimean in
the Context of Interethnic Relations and Conflict Settlement" by Natalya Belitser and the
references therein. In: Kryms'ki Studii, #2, 2000, pp.45-59, and "Crimean Tatars
See, for example, "Crimean Concerns" by Refat
Studii #4, 2001, pp. 30-42, and "Only Ten
Independent Steps: Tenth Anniversary of Ukraine's Independence and the
Crimea" by Mycola Semena,
ibid., pp. 20-29 (only Ukrainian versions yet available). For recent analysis,
see also "Sergeyi Kunitsyn
unites the democrats," Argumenty i Fakty, #5 (339), January
2002 (in Russian); and "
 See also "The Role of International Organizations and Donor Institutions in Solving Problems of Integration into Ukrainian Society of the Persons, Deported on Account of their Ethnic Origin, from the Territory of Crimea," speech by Natalya Belitser (Collection of the materials from the Round Table on September 28, 2000, Kyiv, pp. 49-54).
 This kind of criticism has been presented, for example, by Marcel Zwamborn, Consultant to the Council of Europe. (See: "Integration of formerly deported peoples from the Crimea: report of a mission from 20 to 29 September 2000," Council of Europe, Mig\cdmg\docs\2000\33e, pp. 9-10); and by Oxana Shevel from Harvard University, "Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian State: the Challenge of Politics, the Use of Law, and the Meaning of Rhetoric," Kryms'ki Studii, #1 (7), 2001, pp. 123-125).
See, for example, the speech by the Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Julinski on
 Five relevant UNCPD publications covered the presentations and verbatim reports of the discussions. In addition, in 1999 the same NGO compiled and edited a book presenting for Ukrainian readers the information about all contemporary Crimean Tatar public figures and political leaders.
 Various positions presented by the advocates and opponents of special legal status for Crimean Tatars can be found in the two publications by the UNCPD: "Crimean Tatars: "National Minority or Indigenous People?," Kyiv, 5 February 1999, and "Legal Measures to Secure the rights of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine: Questions and Prospects," Kyiv, 3 June 1999.
Contrary to this "historical" substantiation of Crimean Tatars being
not autochthonous to
 See, for example, the presentation by Valentina Subotenko, Head of the Section on Citizenship Issues of the Administration of President of Ukraine, "Crimean Tatars: National Minority or Indigenous People?" Proceedings of the Roundtable, a Publication by the UNCPD, Kyiv, 5 February 1999, pp. 41-46; and that by Vyacheslav Oleschenko, deputy head of the Department on State and Legal Affairs of the Administration of president, "Legal Measures to Secure the rights of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine: Questions and Prospects," Proceedings of the Roundtable, Kyiv, 3 June 1999, pp. 47-50.
These fears are in fact not substantiated because they do not take into account
the so-called "internal self-determination." For more details on the
issue, see "The right for self-determination in the Crimean Tatar
context" by Natalya Belitser,
"Legal Measures to Secure the rights of the Crimean Tatars in
This argument was provided, in particular, by Leonid Shklyar,
Head of the Department of Political Analysis and Prognosis at the
Administration of President of Ukraine ("Crimean Tatars: National Minority
or Indigenous People?" Proceedings of the Roundtable,
a publication by the UNCPD, Kyiv,
 The argument provided by Leonid Shklyar, Head of the Department of Political Analysis and Prognosis at the Administration of President of Ukraine, see Footnote 30. Actually, the land issue for Crimean Tatars turned out to be rather discriminative, because as a consequence of deportation and living in exile, they were not members of collective farms and therefore, unable to enjoy preferential rights for participation in land privatization in Crimea. (For more details, see: "New aspect of land reform - on opportunity to redistribute lands in Crimea" by Valenina Telychenko, Kryms'ki Studii, # 4, 2000, pp. 84-86).
 Presentation by Valentina Subotenko, Head of the Section on Citizenship Issues of the Administration of President of Ukraine, see footnote 28.
Incredibly, [but] the latter statement can be found in the Encyclopedia on
Migration Processes in a Contemporary World: Worldwide, Regional, and Domestic
Aspects (Yu. Rymarenko, ed.)
published by the National Academy of Sciences of
For comments and analysis of certain legal points addressed by this draft, see Ihor Koliushko, "Legal
Measures to Secure the rights of the Crimean Tatars in
 Official recognition of Mejlis and Kurultay remained, after the Second Kurultay of 1991, among the most acute of Crimean Tatars' problems. Although the necessity of this was already recognized by the first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk (speech presented in May 1994 on occasion of the Days Crimean Tatar culture in Ukraine, referred to by M. Julinski, 1999), no implementation of either President's or Cabinet of Ministers' intentions and recommendations occurred until May 1999.
 Published in Kryms'ki Studii #4, 2000, pp. 55-57.
 The Council is composed of all 33 members of the Mejlis; Mustafa Dzhemilev is Chairperson of both Mejlis and the Council, and Refat Chubarov serves as his First Deputy in both bodies.
See, for example, an Appeal of the Russian Community of Crimea to Compatriots -
a leaflet that appeared on the streets of Bakhchisaray
in July 2001 (unofficial translation by Alim Memetov, distributed by the Crima-L
For the detailed reports on the Fourth Kurultay, see:
Research Update, v. 7, #42/243,
 For the report on the hearing and the adopted Recommendations, see Kryms'ki Studii # 3, 2000, pp. 51-59.
 This notorious Communist deputy is known for his extreme xenophobia and anti-semitic hate speech (see, for example, Bigotry Monitor, Vol 1, # 22, December 2001).
 See the verbatim report (in Ukrainian) in Kryms'ki Studii # 3, 2000, pp. 23-24.
Such a view has been expressed, in particular, by Ivan Kuras,
Vice-President of the National Academy of Sciences of
 Only 282 MPs were registered, whereas before the first sitting (morning of the same day), the turnout of deputies amounted to 349.
 For example, the absence of the universal definition for indigenous peoples as an argument against regarding the status of the Crimean Tatar people, discussed earlier and agreed upon as being not valid, was put forward during the parliamentary hearing by the opponents of the indigenous status.
 For an English translation of the full text of the Recommendations, see Kryms'ki Studii # 3, 2000, pp. 57-59.
 Available at http://www.rada.gov.ua
See Holos Ukrainy,
See Press Release of the
A statement repeated by many participants of the meeting interviewed in
The references on these can be found in "Crimean Tatars and the
Kryms'ki Studii, #1 (7), 2001, pp. 123-125 (available also at:
In this letter, available at:
the OSCE HCNM, though emphasizing that "international and Ukrainian legal instruments regarding national minorities... are applicable to indigenous peoples," admitted also that "I do not suggest that no distinction can be made between national minorities and indigenous peoples. An important difference is, in my view, that in contrast to a national minority, an indigenous people does not have a kinstate." (As can be seen, the quotation complies with the approach developed by draft Ukrainian legislation on the issue).
Letter to Mr. Anatoliy Zlenko,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of
 Although the HCNM did meet with the two leaders of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, on the second day of his stay in Kyiv, and conferred with them for several hours, not a single word of information about this meeting has appeared in either electronic or printed media.
See, for example, "Holos Ukrainy"
 UNIAN On Line [04.02.2002 ].
 See the report by Eva Koprolin, Administrative Officer of the DGSAH, "The Role of International Organizations and Donor Institutions in Solving Problems of Integration in to Ukrainian Society of the Persons, Deported on Account of their Ethnic Origin, from the Territory of Crimea" (Collection of the materials frrom the Round Table on 28 September 2000, Kyiv), pp. 15-25.
See "Repatriation and Integration of the Tatars of
The legal-political department of the Mejlis, and the
Fund for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea,
prepared and published a number of highly professional essays and papers
analyzing international experience in securing the rights of indigenous peoples
and its applicability to the situation of Crimean Tatars, also Krymchaks and Karaits. In
particular, three special issues of the Informational Bulletin "Altin Besik" covering all
aspects of the problem, were prepared for the
participants of the VR hearing on
See a Statement by Mustafa Dzhemilev from
 See, for example, A Report (by Kemal Seitveliev) on Seminar on the repatriation and Integration of the Tatars of Crimea, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography, Yalta (Ukraine), 6-8 October 2001 (available at http://www.iccrimea.org/reports/coe-seminar.html).
 Verbatim report available at http://stars.coe.fr./verbatim/20002/E/0002051500E.htm).
 Repatriation and integration of the Tatars of Crimea, PACE Recommendation 1455 (2000).
See "Integration of formerly deported peoples from the
See CoE Doc. 9121 from
See the informal report by Kemal Seitveliev,
See: Parallel Report "About the situation in Crimea (Ukraine),"
Prepared by the Foundation for Research and Support of the Indigenous Peoples
of Crimea on Behalf of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar
People in accordance with the article 25 of the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe. In the preamble to
this document, it is said that though Crimean Tatars consider themselves not as
a national minority but as indigenous people, in the absence of other legally
binding international documents and national bills, the opportunity has been
used to scrutiny how Ukraine observed the rights of the Crimean Tatars
according to the Framework Convention. Available at:
The Statements by Nadir Bekirov can be found in
Crimea-L mailings from
This prospect received also rather negative comments from some individual
experts studying the situation in
See, for example, "The rights of indigenous peoples: overview of the
international experience" by Bill Bowring, Migration Issues in
For the concise explanation of why Crimean Tatars should not be equated with
the Tatars, for example, from the
See the CoE Doc. 8655 from
See "Integration of formerly deported peoples from the
For broader context of the legislative proceedings on elections in the ARC, see
"Crimean Election Law and Formation of Political Climate in the
Autonomy," Research Update Vol. 8, # 4/252,
This was noted as one of the serious drawbacks of the Ukrainian election
campaign of 1998 by the OSCE and PACE observer mission (see
Such a decision was adopted by the Council of the Crimean Oblast of the Ukr.SSR in September 1990; and it specified that in any of
the administrative-territorial units of the
 See the previous part of the given paper.
See Research Update Vol. 7, # 42/243,.
 For a detailed analysis of both drafts, see also "Crimean Concerns" by Refat Chubarov, Kryms'ki Studii #4, 2001, pp. 30-42 (in Ukrainian).
Stenographic report of the VR sitting on
 A strongest argument stressed that those deportations that had completely destroyed the coherence of centuries-long national life of Crimean Tatar people, and displaced also several other ethnic groups), were based on a principle of ethnicity. Therefore, to redress effectively the resulted huge losses and damages, some special measures or "affirmative actions" are needed in regard to these groups.
See Election Update #26,
The main arguments to explain such a decision were as follows: all political
 See Kryms'ki Studii # 4, 2001, pp. 70-73.
Quoted from the speech of Mustafa Dzhemilev at the
1st session of the 4th Kurultay of Crimean Tatar
 Interview with Refat Chubarov, Context, #6, 2001, pp.33-40.
An Appeal of the Fourth Kurultay of Crimean Tatar
people adopted on
 Stenographic report of the VR session on
For a positive decision, no less than 226 voices are
needed. To provide a clear picture of the different factions stand on the
issue, the result of voting by factions was as follows: Communist Party of
Ukraine - 106 votes, Socialist Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) - 16,
non-allied MPs - 16, Socialist Party of Ukraine - 15, Apple - 14, Fatherland -
9, Greens - 5, Labour Ukraine - 5, UNR - 2, NRU - 1. Democratic
 Stenographic report of the VR session on
 The Statement of the Mejlis
of Crimean Tatar people of
 See, for example, "Sergey Kunitsyn Unites Democrats" by Yevgeniy Tulub, Argumanty i Fakty, #5 (339), January 2002 (in Russian).
See "What Takes Place in
 These issues have been covered in more detail by Victor Khomenko (Holos Ukrainy, 9 January 2002) and Mykyta Kas'yanenko (Den, 9 January 2002).
See Recommendation 1455 (2000) "Repatriation and Integration of the Tatars
of Crimea" of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE
 See "The Constitutional Process in the Autonomous Republic of Crimean in the Context of Interethnic Relations and Conflict Settlement" by Natalya Belitser and the references therein,Kryms'ki Studii #2, 2000, pp.45-59.
Letter to Crimea-L members of
According to media reports, some steps in this direction have already been
undertaken by the non-leftist electoral groupings. (See, for example, Ukrainian
Regional Report: Elections Newsletter-2002, Issue # 2,
 "Serhiy Kunitsyn Unites Democrats" by Yevgeniy
Tulub, Argumenty i Fakty v
See, for example, "
 "Back and Forth in the
Both electronic and printed media of
 See, for example, "Hrach Calls for a Coup D'Etat?" by Nicolas Voitovsky, http://part.org.ua, 26.02.2002, and "Hrach Takes a Path of War, or the Crimea May Repeat the Fate of Kosovo" by Oleg Mitrofanov, http://part.org.us, 28.02.2002 (in Russian).
 RFE/RL, "
 Resolution of the Fourth Kurultay
of Crimean Tatar people adopted on
 According to recent sociological surveys, "Nasha Ukraina" has the highest rating, and is the undoubted leader of the pre-election race, therefore, both positions in the block's list seem ensuring deputies' mandates. (See, for example, "Our Ukraine, CPU and SDPU(o) Lead the Rating - Sociological Survey," 1.03.2002, at http://part.org.ua, and "Winners and Losers of the Parliamentary Elections Are Already Known," 16.02.2002, at http://www.razom.org.ua.
See "This is: 'Our
 See report by Kemal Seitveliev disseminated by Crimea-L in November 2001.
 Holos Kryma, # 7 (431), 15 Febryary 2002.
 http://www.pravda.com.ua, 15.04.2002. For a detailed analysis of Ukrainian elections see, for example, The Ukrainian List (UKL) # 171, 11 April 2002, and # 172, 5 May 2002; "Ukraine Takes Two Steps Forward and, One Step Back" by Taras Kuzio, RFE/RL Newsline, V. 6 # 64, 5 April 2002, and numeous analytical reviews on Ukrainian web-sites.
 "The idea of quotas is no more actual" by Aleksey Nezhivoy, Krymskoye vremia, 30 April 2002 (in Russian).
 "Nasha Ukraina" took the third place in Crimea following CPU and Social Democrats (united). Interview with Refat Chubarov, 4 May 2002.
 See, for example, Research Update, Vol. 8, No 17/265, 29 April 2002 (available at http://www.ucipr.kiev.ua).
 Ibid., see also http://www..krym2002.com, 02.04.2002, and http://part.org.ua, 15.04.2002.
 At http://part.org.ua, 29.04.2002
 KrymTAU-Inform, 22.04.2002, at: http://www.crimeatau.org.ua , see also Interfax-Ukraine, 05.04.2002 (in Ukrainian).
 RFE/RL Newsline, V. 6, # 81, 30 April 2002.
 Only 15 deputies are members of the CPU, whereas in 1998, there were 36 of them (interview with Refat Chubarov, 4 May 2002).
 "The Day when the Strongest Turned Out Helpless" by Mykola Semena, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia 6-12 April 2002 (in Ukrainian).
 "Honeymoon in Crimea" by Lilya Budzhurova, at http://www.pravda.com.ua, 16.05.2002.
 "Hrach is 'Little Stalin' Today" by Mykola Semena, 30.04.2002, at http://pravda.com.ua (in Russian).
 Krymskoye Vremya; 30 April 2002 (in Russian).
 Interview with Refat Chubarov, 4 May 2002.
 Opinion by Mustafa Dzhemilev, at http://aspects.crimeastar.net, 1.05.2002 (in Russian).
 Several dozens of decrees and resolutions, addressing Crimean Tatar issues, have been adopted by the executive bodies of Ukraine over the last decade, but many important points remain nothing else but good intentions.
 See, for example, "Nations Without States" by Gidon Gottlieb, Foreign Affairs, May/June 1994, pp. 100-112.
© 2002 Natalya Belitser