Crimea: ARC + Sevastopol

Most of the Crimean peninsula currently exists as "The Autonomous Republic of Crimea" (ARC) within Ukraine. The ARC's population is about 2,000,000.

Crimea's southernmost point is the Cape of Sarych (within the territory of the ARC), which is used by the Russian Navy.

Sevastopol Municipality is not part of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Sevastopol is one of two cities with special status in Ukraine (the other being the capital, Kiev. It is located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimean Peninsula. It had a population of 342,451 in 2001. The headquarters of both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and Russia's Black Sea Fleet are located in the city.

Crimea's Political Status, 1944-2014

1944: The USSR (then allied with the USA and the UK, etc.) deports the Tatar, Armenian, Greek and Bulgarian populations from Crimea, after the peninsula is "liberated" from German occupation. (Since Ukrainian independence, Russian and Ukrainian populations of Crimea and of Ukraine have in general decreased, while the Crimean Tatar population has increased with the return of Tatars to Crimea, mostly from Uzbekistan.)

1944-1945: Crimea part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

1954: Crimea transferred (by initiative of Ukrainian Soviet Premier Krushchev) from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

1954-1991: Crimea an oblast (province) of Ukraine

1991.01.20: Referendum on Crimean autonomy; Crimea claims status of Autonomous Republic (ASSR) within the Ukrainian SSR of the USSR.

1991.12.01: Local Crimean votes in favour of Ukrainian independence (with a Ukraine-wide voter turnout of 84.16 percent of eligible voters): in the Crimean ASSR: 54.19 percent; in Sevastapol City: 57.07 percent.

1991.08.24: Ukraine declares independence from USSR.

1992.02.12: Crimean Verkhovniy Soviet/Rada (Supreme Soviet/Council; i.e. "parliament) declares establishment of autonomous Republic of Crimea. (1992.02.26: Crimean parliament officially renames the Crimean ASSR as The Republic of Crimea.)

1992.05.05: Crimean parliament declares Crimean independence, and passes Crimean Constitution.

1992.05.06: Crimean parliament amends Crimean Constitution to declare that Crimea is part of Ukraine.

1992.05.13: Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council / parliament) annuls Crimea's independence declaration, and gives its Crimean counterpart one week to do the same. Threat of war.

1992.05.19: Crimean parliament agrees Crimea to remain part of Ukraine, and annuls its former proclamation of self-government. Ukrainian government increases autonomous status of Crimea.

1992.06: Ukraine-Crimean compromise: Crimea granted status of Autonomous Republic within sovereign Ukraine. Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk agree to divide the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet between Russia and the newly formed Ukrainian Navy.

1992.08.02: Crimean Constitution approved in Crimean referendum.

1993.10.14: Crimean parliament establishes post of President of Crimea, and agrees on a quota of Crimean Tatars to be represented in the Council of 14.

1994.05: Crimean parliament votes to implement 1992 Constitution.

1994.09: President of Crimea (Yuriy Meshkov) and parliament resolve to write a new Constitution.

1995.03.17: Ukrainian parliament abolishes Crimea's 1992 Constitution and the post of President of Crimea; accuses Meshkov of actions against the state and the promotion of Crimean integration with Russia.

1995.06 to 1995.09: Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma governs Crimea under a direct presidential administration decree.

1995.10: Crimean parliament adopts a new Constitution.

1996.04: Ukrainian authorities recognize Crimean Constitution, suggesting significant amendments; Crimea's status as part of Ukraine is re-affirmed in Ukraine's 1996 constitution.

1997.05: Russian-Ukrainian Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership; division of the Black Sea Fleet confirmed.

1998.10.21: A fifth draft law of the 1995 Crimean Constitution ratified at the second session of the Crimean Verkhovna Rada (parliament).

1998.12.23: Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) confirms 1998 version of 1995 Crimean Constitution. (Article 135 of the Ukrainian Constitution provides that the Crimean Constitution must be approved by the Ukrainian parliament.)

1999.01.12 to Present: Crimean constitution of 1998 in effect.

2008.09: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko accuses Russia of giving Russian passports to the population in the Crimea with intention of possible future military intervention to protect Russian citizens.

2009.08.24: Anti-Ukrainian demonstrations in Crimea. Sergei Tsekov (of the Russian Bloc, and then deputy speaker of the Crimean parliament) says that he hopes Russia adopts same policies vis-a-vis Crimea as it maintains vis-a-vis South Ossetia and Abkhazia. (i.e., that Russia will be Crimea's "protector".)

2010.04.27: Ukrainian parliament ratifies extension of Russian lease of Crimean naval base at Sevastapol to 2042; chaos in Ukrainian parliament during debate.

Present Situation of Crimea

Crimean government rejects Ukrainian political status quo, post-coup d'état of 2014.02.22, with Ukraine ruled by President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov, and Chairman of Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov.

The Crimean parliament (unicameral): Supreme Council of Crimea / Верховна Рада Криму (Ukrainian) / Верховный Совет Крыма (Russian) / Qırım Yuqarı Radası (Tatar)

Parliamentary leader: Speaker: Volodymyr Konstantinov

Parliamentary structure (100 seats): Party of Regions (80), Communist Party (5), Qurultai-Rukh (5), Soyuz (5), Russian Unity (3), Strong Ukraine (2)

"Prime Minister": The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

The Chairman's nomination is proposed by the Speaker of the Crimean parliament, with the approval of the President of Ukraine; and is then approved by the Crimean parliament.

Current Chairman / Prime Minister: Anatolii Mohyliov (since 2011.11.08): Russian ethnicity; strongly pro-Russian politically; born 1955 in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Khabarovsk Krai, Russian SFSR.

Russia rattles sabre over fate of Crimea

By Kathrin Hille in Moscow and Roman Olearchyk in Kiev

Finacial Times, February 20, 2014

Russia is prepared to fight a war over the Ukrainian territory of Crimea to protect the ethnic Russian population and its military base there, a senior government official has told the FT.

“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war,” the official said. “They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia.” In August 2008, Russian troops invaded Georgia after the Georgian military launched a surprise attack on the separatist region of South Ossetia in an effort to establish its dominance over the republic.

Russia later recognised the independence of South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia, but is the only major country to have done so.

The brief conflict with Georgia pitted Russia indirectly against the US and Nato, which had earlier tried to put Georgia on a path to Nato membership. The Kremlin regards the Georgian conflict as the biggest stand-off between Russia and the west since the end of the Cold War and it has fed determination in Moscow to push back against what it believes to be western attempts to contain Russia.

The warning of a similar scenario comes because Ukraine’s civil conflict has fanned tension in Crimea. On the peninsula, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed, ethnic Russians make up almost 60 per cent of the population, with Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars accounting for the rest.

Volodymyr Konstantinov, speaker of Crimea’s parliament, said on Thursday that the region might try to secede from Ukraine if the country split. “It is possible, if the country breaks apart,” he told the Russian news agency Interfax. “And everything is moving towards that.” Russian media also quoted him as saying Crimeans might turn to Russia for protection.

Mr Konstantinov discussed the Ukraine crisis with Russian lawmakers including Sergey Naryshkin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, or Duma, in Moscow on Thursday.
The Kremlin has been eager to stress that it is not interfering in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he was sending Vladimir Lukin, a liberal former diplomat who now serves as the government’s human rights commissioner, to Kiev as a mediator. But Mr Putin’s spokesman emphasised that this was at the request of Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president.

However, many government officials say in private that Ukraine falls inside Russia’s sphere of influence. “We will not allow Europe and the US to take Ukrainefrom us. The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family,” said a foreign policy official. “They think Russia is still as weak as in the early 1990s but we are not.”

Apart from its military importance, Crimea is historically valued by Russians more than other Ukrainian regions because of the controversy over the decision by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev – himself Ukrainian-born – to sign it over to Ukraine from Russia in 1954.

Ihor Smeshko, who steered Ukraine away from violence when he was in charge of the SBU state security service during the 2004 Orange Revolution, said the desire of the Crimeans to break away and join Russia was an artificially engineered issue. “I don’t understand how [Mr Konstantinov’s] comments, which carry an obvious threat to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, are not immediately investigated by the SBU,” he said.

The president of the Crimean Tartars’ assembly called Mr Konstantinov’s comments “treason”, further raising the possibility of ethnic conflict if Crimea were to separate.


Delphic1 | February 20: What were they thinking in Washington and Brussels? Incite the Ukrainian populous to violently reject a Russian bailout and seek to overthrow their elected government by promising more jam tomorrow? Did they not think this would be regarded by Russian hard liners as tantamount to an act of war against Russia itself? Do we have any statesmen left in the West with the slightest idea of what is going on in the real world? Neither the EU or USA have the will or resources to face an enraged Russian military incursion into Ukraine. Their wilful encouragement of the relatively small number of fanatical protestors is shameful and will now result in untold loss of life and economic disaster for millions.....

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