Chronology for Crimean Russians in Ukraine

Source: Refworld, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – the UN refugee agency;
Project: Minorities at risk
Published : 2004
Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Crimean Russians in Ukraine, 2004, available at: [accessed 21 June 2016]
Disclaimer This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
1917 Economic and political collapse brings about the downfall of Czarist Russia and the establishment of the Soviet Union.
1919 – 1921 Anarchy reigns throughout the eastern part of Ukraine. The Russian Bolsheviks attempt two more unsuccessful invasions. Finally in late 1921, the Bolsheviks defeat the Ukrainian nationalists and it is absorbed into the Soviet Union.
Oct 18, 1921 The Soviet Union establishes the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian SFSR. The autonomous republic is run as a Tatar enclave within the Russian SFSR.
May 18, 1944 Stalin begins mass deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea for collaborating with the Germans during World War II. Most are settled in Uzbekistan. It is estimated that as many as 46.2% of Crimean Tatars perished in the aftermath (Allworth 1988). (The low end of estimates put the number around 20%.)
Jun 30, 1945 The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is stripped of its autonomous status as a result of the alleged crimes of the Crimean Tatar people during World War II. It becomes merely an oblast of the Russian SFSR. Russian emigration into the Crimea under Soviet authority has been going on since before the Great War, but Stalin accelerates the migration of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians into Crimea in the aftermath of the Tatar resettlement.
Apr 29, 1954 Under Khrushchev, the Soviet Union transfers the Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. This move is done in marking the 300th anniversary of the Pereiaslav Agreement which, in large part, marked the beginning of Ukrainian subjugation to the Muscovite Empire. The official party line has declared this the beginning of the long Russo-Ukrainian friendship.
Mar 30, 1990 The Ukraine government required Crimean Russians to set their clocks to the same time as the rest of Ukraine for the first time since 1994, when the Russians had switched to Moscow time in protest. The Ukraine government had initially tolerated a second time zone within Ukraine, but required the Crimeans to come into line after four years. (The Independent [London] 3/28/97)
Jul 16, 1990 The Ukrainian SSR declares its state sovereignty.
Sep 1990 The Crimean Supreme Soviet calls upon the Supreme Soviets of the Soviet Union and Russian SFSR to nullify the decisions to strip Crimea of its autonomous status.
Jan 20, 1991 A referendum is held in the Crimea on restoring autonomy to the region. Over 80% of the electorate participates, of which 93.26% supported the “restoration of the Crimean ASSR as a subject of the USSR and as a party to the Union Treaty.”
Feb 12, 1991 The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet restores the Crimea as an autonomous republic within the borders of the Ukraine.
Aug 1991 An attempted coup against Gorbachev fails on the 21st. On the 24th, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet declares the Ukraine’s independence and on the same day, the Republican Movement of Crimea (which later becomes the Republican Party of Crimea) is established by Yurii Meshkov. The movement is officially registered as a movement in November.
Sep 4, 1991 The Crimean parliament declares the state sovereignty of Crimea as a constituent part of the Ukraine.
Dec 1, 1991 A referendum is held in the Ukraine on independence simultaneously with presidential elections. Leonid Kravchuk is elected the first president of the Ukraine, and the independence of the Ukraine is supported by the referendum. However, Crimean support for Ukrainian independence was the lowest of all of the Ukraine (only 54% in favor) with very low turnout (65%). Support not only for Russia, but for the Soviet Union, is extremely high in Crimea as much of the population is related to the Soviet military and the Black Sea Fleet.
Jan 1992 The Russian Foreign Ministry and parliament condemn the transfer of Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954.
Jan 15, 1992 The Union of Ukrainian Naval Officers in Sevastopol protests what they see as Russian intervention in Ukrainian internal affairs.
Feb 26, 1992 The Crimean parliament changes the name of the region from the Crimean ASSR to the Crimean Republic.
Apr 1992 In a visit to Crimea, Russian Vice President Rutskoi calls for the secession of Crimea from the Ukraine.
May 5, 1992 Crimea’s parliament declares total independence subject to approval in a referendum to be held in August 1992.
May 13, 1992 The Ukrainian parliament declares the Crimean parliament’s independence declaration unconstitutional and gives them until May 20 to rescind it. They also give President Kravchuk the power to use all necessary means to halt Crimean independence.
May 20, 1992 In reaction to the Ukrainian ultimatum, the Crimean parliament rescinds its declaration of independence, but only suspends the referendum on independence. They also suggest that Kiev suspend its law on Crimean autonomy and begin negotiating a new delineation of power between Kiev and Simferopol.
May 21, 1992 The Russian parliament passes a resolution declaring the 1954 transfer of Crimea illegal and calling for negotiations on the future of Crimea. This move is supported by some Russian nationalists and Communists in Crimea.
Jun 1, 1992 Crimean and Ukrainian parliaments agree to a compromise in which Crimea is granted greater autonomy and special economic status. Crimean Tatars condemn the agreement as they were not a party to the negotiations.
Jun 23, 1992 The Dagomys Summit between the Ukraine and Russia takes place. An agreement is signed dividing the Black Sea Fleet equally by 1995.
Jun 30, 1992 Kiev passes a law granting Crimea greater autonomy as they agreed to, but made its enactment contingent on (1) Crimea’s amendment of its constitution to bring into line with the Ukraine’s, and (2) the complete annulment of the independence referendum. Crimea later imposes a moratorium on the referendum.
Jul 9, 1992 The Russian parliament declares Sevastopol a Russian city. The declaration is quickly disavowed by Russian President Yeltsin. Later in the month, the U. N. Security Council declares the Russian parliament’s declaration on Sevastopol a violation of the UN Charter and the 1990 Russo-Ukrainian treaty recognizing existing borders. Yeltsin supports the UNSC declaration.
Aug 1992 At Yalta, Kravchuk and Yeltsin agree on details of how they are to divide the Black Sea Fleet. They also agree that Sevastopol is to be leased to Russia for basing of the fleet. Both Russian and Ukrainian nationalists attack the agreement.
Sep 1992 Crimea revises its constitution to meet the Ukraine’s requirements.
Dec 17, 1992 The Ukrainian parliament passes the Law on the Representation of the President of Ukraine in the Republic of Crimea.
Jan 10, 1993 Over 2,000 protesters hold an unauthorized demonstration in Sevastopol calling for separation from Ukraine, price reductions, dismissal of the presidential representative in Sevastopol, and the transfer of the representative’s powers to the city council and Executive Committee.
Jan 13, 1993 A Russian, Rear Admiral Baltin, was confirmed by both Ukrainian and Russian presidents as commander of the Black Sea Fleet.
Jan 18 – 20, 1993 Anti-Ukrainian demonstrations again take place in Sevastopol and Simferopol. This time they are organized by the All Crimean Movement of Electors for a Crimean Republic, the Republican Movement of Crimea, Yedinstvo, and the Union of Communists. Demands include the transfer of Crimea back to Russian jurisdiction and early elections be held for all government bodies. The Simferopol demonstration, numbering about 1,000 and led by Meshkov, goes past the parliament building and is unauthorized. The demonstration of the 17th attracted about 5,000 people. In all, the series of demonstrations attracted less than 10,000 people.
Jan 22, 1993 Ukrainian PM Kuchma states that the government should be examining the question of making Sevastopol a free economic zone.
Mar 23, 1993 The Party for the Economic Rebirth of Crimea holds a congress during which it calls for economic, political and legal measures to expedite the development of Crimea as a democratic state within Ukraine.
Apr 6, 1993 The Crimean parliament passes a resolution demanding that Ukraine and Russia reaffirm their allegiance to the Yalta agreement on the fleet.
Apr 14, 1993 The Presidium of the Crimean parliament calls for the creation of the post of president. The issue is to be on the upcoming sessions agenda.
Apr 25, 1993 Two vessels of the Black Sea Fleet pledge allegiance to Ukraine. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry accepts the ships into the Ukrainian Navy. The fleet command denounces this move as a violation of the Yalta agreement.
May 5, 1993 President Kravchuk meets with Crimean Chairman Bahrov. They discuss an amendment to the Ukrainian Constitution concerning the division of powers between Kiev and Sevastopol, the establishment of committees to decide the division of property in Crimea, and the allowance of dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship for Crimean residents.
May 24, 1993 115 ships of the Black Sea Fleet raise the Russian flag to protest discrepancies between the pay Russian and Ukrainian sailors receive.
May 31, 1993 The Defense Council meets over the situation with the fleet. The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists declares that all ships flying the Russian flag be withdrawn from Ukrainian waters and the Yalta and Dagomys agreements be voided.
Jun 1, 1993 Over 200 ships of the fleet raise the Russian naval ensign. The following day, Ukrainian Defense Minister states that the crews of ships flying the Russian flag would not be paid by Kiev.
Jun 8, 1993 The Ukrainian Defense Ministry issues statement renouncing plans to lease Sevastopol to Russia.
Jun 16, 1993 The Crimean parliament passes a decree appealing to both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to maintain the fleet jointly with Sevastopol as the home port. They also call on them to resolve to lessen the hardships faced by the seamen of the fleet. The following day Kravchuk and Yeltsin agree to divide the fleet equally into Russian and Ukrainian fleets. Yeltsin promises to contribute to socioeconomic programs wherever Russian naval forces are stationed.
Jun 25, 1993 Kravchuk declares Crimea a free economic zone. The following day, protests are held against the agreement by officers of the fleet and workers’ unions.
Jun 29, 1993 The Conference of Black Sea Fleet Officers protest the division of the fleet. They call on fleet commanders to raise the Russian ensign on July 1 in protest. A report on July 5, said that 220 of the fleet support ships were still flying the Russian flag, while only three were flying the Ukrainian flag. All combat vessels are required to fly the Soviet era flag.
Jul 9, 1993 The Russian parliament passes a resolution declaring Sevastopol the home port of a unified Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian territory. The resolution is condemned by Ukrainian groups throughout Crimea, the Ukrainian parliament and most Western governments.
Jul 16, 1993 The anti-Ukrainian Popular Assembly declares that only Russian laws should be valid in the city of Sevastopol, new elections to the city council should be held, Sevastopol deputies in Kiev should be dismissed and new elections for deputies to be sent to Russia should be held, the Ukrainian naval headquarters should be removed forcibly from Sevastopol, and Russia should cut off oil deliveries to Ukraine. The declarations are accompanied by anti-Ukrainian / pro-Russian demonstrations. Meshkov makes statement that once Sevastopol is reunited with Russia, the rest of Crimea would soon follow. Non-Russians throughout Crimea and in Kiev denounce the statement. Most of these sentiments are not held by Russians in the rest of Ukraine. Many Crimean Russians yearn for a return to the Soviet Union and re-establishment of Soviet authority in Ukraine.
Jul 21, 1993 The UNSC declares the Russian parliament’s resolution on Sevastopol in violation of the UN Charter and the 1990 Russo-Ukrainian treaty establishing their common borders.
Jul 26, 1993 Demonstrators in Sevastopol (approximately 2,000) demand the transfer of the fleet to Russia. Victor Prusakov of the Russian Society of Crimea threatens to take up arms to restore Sevastopol to Russia.
Sep 3, 1993 Yeltsin and Kravchuk hold a summit during which Yeltsin suggests that Ukraine trade its share of the fleet to pay off its huge debt to Russia for fuel. Kravchuk rejects the idea pointing out that they had been planning to sell part of the fleet on the market to boost their finances.
Sep 17, 1993 The Crimean parliament passes a law providing for the election of a president of the Crimean Republic.
Sep 28, 1993 Bahrov, speaker of the Crimean parliament threatens to resign in protest the parliament’s refusal to guarantee Crimean Tatars representation. The parliament refuses to accept the resignation.
Oct 14, 1993 The Crimean parliament sets presidential elections for January 16, 1994.
Dec 15, 1993 Andrii Lazenbnykov, a campaign worker for presidential candidate Yermakov (the Ukrainian presidential representative in Sevastopol) and press secretary for the Black Sea Fleet is murdered. A bomb does minor damage to the home of Eskander Memetov, economic advisor to Bahrov the next day.
Jan 10, 1994 Supporters of the pro-Russian nationalist, Meshkov disrupt a speech by Bahrov. Charges are leveled at Meshkov of waging a “pathological terror campaign.”
Jan 15, 1994 Meshkov is attacked at a bus stop on the eve of the elections by an individual with a metal rod.
Jan 16, 1994 Over 80% of registered voters vote in the presidential elections. No winner emerges; the top two candidates are Mehkov with 38.2% of the vote, and Bahrov with 17.6% of the vote. The run-offs are scheduled for January 30.
Jan 19, 1994 Memetov is again attacked along with 14 companions. Eleven people are wounded, three killed. Memetov dies two days later due to his injuries.
Jan 20, 1994 Kiev’s parliament votes to allow the president to nullify any acts by either central agencies or Crimean authorities which violate the constitution.
Jan 25, 1994 Kravchuk meets with advisors of Meshkov and Bahrov. He assures them that he does not intend to intervene against the Republican Movement. He also reiterated his opposition to dual citizenship.
Jan 30, 1994 The presidential run-offs are held. Meshkov wins with 75% of the vote and Bahrov resigns from parliament – although the resignation was rejected again by the parliament.
Feb 4, 1994 Meshkov is sworn in as president. He praises Ukraine and President Kravchuk, and in meetings with him works on economic agreements.
Feb 24, 1994 The Ukrainian parliament finds that Crimea did not have the right to have independent defense and monetary policies and they rejected the idea of a separate Crimean citizenship. They also placed a deadline on the Crimean parliament to get Crimean law into line with Ukrainian. Bahrov denounces the resolution by the Ukrainian parliament in a meeting with Kravchuk and Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman.
Mar 4, 1994 The Rossiya electoral bloc urges Crimeans to boycott the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary elections (set for March 27).
Mar 6, 1994 400 Russian nationalists protest in Sevastopol against presidents Kravchuk and Clinton. Kravchuk is meeting with Clinton in Washington.
Mar 11, 1994 The Crimean parliament appoints a former Russian minister of economics as deputy prime minister. The Crimean branch of the Ukrainian Republican Party and the Ukrainian Civic Congress adopt a resolution denouncing the Crimean decree on holding a referendum on independence. They also demanded that Kravchuk abolish the Crimean presidency.
Mar 14, 1994 Crimean parliament adopts a budget which calls for taxes and tariffs to be appropriated in Simferopol instead of Kiev. The Central Election Commission declares Meshkov’s referendum on independence illegal. Two days later, Kravchuk follows suit declaring the referendum null and void; he states that Meshkov has exceeded his authority. Meshkov vows to go ahead with the referendum anyway.
Mar 21, 1994 Meshkov sets up a special commission to conduct a nonbinding referendum on the status of the Crimea.
Mar 25, 1994 The Ukrainian Defense Ministry declares illegal a decree by Meshkov requiring that Crimean citizens may only perform military service on Crimean soil.
Mar 27, 1994 The Crimea holds the referendum 1.3 million voted, 78.4% of whom supported greater autonomy from Ukraine, 82.8% supported allowing dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship, and 77.9% favored giving Crimean presidential decrees the force of law. The first round of both Crimean and Ukrainian elections also take place. In the Crimea, the Rossiya bloc gets 67% of the vote, the Communist Party 11%, and the Party of Economic Rebirth 7%.
Apr 1994 Crimean President Meshkov removes the chief of internal affairs ministry (the police) who was appointed by Kiev and replaces him with a Crimean, Valerii Kuznetsov. The situation becomes decidedly heated as both sides issue threats and counter-threats. General Kuznetsov declares on Rossiya Radio that Crimea is in essence Russian and will be a part of Russia.
Apr 15, 1994 Kravchuk and Yeltsin sign an agreement on the fleet dispute. The agreement calls for the fleet’s division with Ukraine getting 15-20% of the ships. It also is to set up separate Russian and Ukrainian bases.
Apr 22, 1994 The Russian-Ukrainian talks over the fleet break down with no final agreement signed. The talks broke down over the issue of what bases the Russians would be allowed to use. Separately in Crimea, 13 Crimean political parties sign an “Accord for Rebirth.” The accord is not signed by Communist Party of Crimea, Ukrainian Republican Movement, Ukrainian Civic Congress of Crimea, nor the Mejlis. The signing came after a week of pro-Russian demonstrations in front of the local parliament.
May 1994 Kravchuk orders the removal of Kuznetsov as chief of the internal affairs ministry, but he is unable to enforce the order. Compromise is later reached between the offices of the two presidents; there is to be both a Ukrainian and Crimean internal affairs ministry presence.
May 6, 1994 Russians in Crimea celebrate Crimean Constitution Day in Simferopol. The festivities include a rally for Crimean independence which is attended by 15,000 people.
Jun 4, 1994 Agreement is reached between deputies of the Crimean and Ukrainian parliaments. The deputies agree that Crimean law is overridden by the Ukrainian constitution and that both sides should come to agreement on a division of powers between Kiev and Simferopol. The accord is rejected by the Crimean parliament three days later.
Jun 28, 1994 The Ukrainian parliament attempts to assert Ukrainian control over all police units in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Crimean parliament counters by repealing all Ukrainian laws which contradict Crimean law.
Jul 1, 1994 The Crimean parliament votes to assume full powers on the territory of Crimea except for those which it voluntarily delegates to Kiev. They also condemn the Ukrainian leadership for violating the Crimean Constitution and law.
Jul 6, 1994 The Crimean parliament passes a resolution invalidating a decree from Kiev placing the Crimean militia under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.
Jul 19, 1994 Leonid Kuchma is sworn in as president of Ukraine. He won the election with 52.14% of the vote. The leader of Mejlis warns that this could make the situation for his group (the Tatars) worse. Kravchuk did well in western Ukraine, and Kuchma did well in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
Jul 21, 1994 A law allowing dual citizenship in the peninsula passes its first reading in the Crimean parliament. The parliament is also said to be considering charging both the Russians and Ukrainians for use of Crimean land for their military installations. Russia has paid only irregularly for use of its naval bases and Ukraine has not paid at all.
Aug 3, 1994 The Crimean minister of economics reports that Crimea is becoming more and more dependent on Ukraine for trade and less so on Russia. He reported that 80% of Crimean manufactures are sold in Ukraine.
Aug 4, 1994 It is revealed that on July 18 Meshkov created the Service of the President of the Republic of Crimea for Security and International Affairs. The new service answers only to the president and is headed by a former Russian special services operative. This is the third special services office to operate in Crimea; the other two are operated by Ukraine and parliament.
Aug 6, 1994 Kuchma issues two decrees which place the government under his direct control and subordinates all local and regional councils to his authority. This move is not challenged by the parliament which has ten days to do so (otherwise the decrees become law).
Aug 23, 1994 The Sevastopol city council decided to declare Sevastopol a Russian city, making the city subject only to Russian legislation. The resolution was backed by 36 of the 42 members and was immediately denounced as illegal by Ukrainian authorities.
Sep 11, 1994 Crimean President Meshkov suspends the Crimean parliament and all local councils, and has assumed all political powers within the republic. Meshkov’s decree states that a draft constitution is to be drawn up December 9 and voted on in a referendum by April 9. Within three months of the approval of a new constitution, new elections are to be held and new local bodies to be created. This move follows the parliament’s vote to curtail his powers 4 days earlier. Later, Meshkov offers to begin talks with parliament only if they rescinded the amendments curtailing his powers.
Sep 22, 1994 Meshokov suspends his decree dissolving parliament in order to begin talks with the parliament. Meanwhile, the position of the central government in Kiev has been low-keyed and non-intrusive. Kuchma has called on both sides to resolve the dispute peacefully, saying that the central authority would only intervene if “disorder” broke out. Kuchma also proposed a compromise of both sides cancelling their decrees. Both sides rejected the proposal. In the wake of this, he has declared that if they do not resolve the dispute peacefully, he will rescind Crimea’s autonomous status. A poll is reported showing only 23% of Crimeans support Meshkov. The report which gave this statistic also reported that leader of the Tatar (Kuraltai) faction of parliament has said that it would be better to live as an oblast of Ukraine than under Meshkov.
Sep 29, 1994 The parliament moves to strip Meshkov and the presidency of all powers, making the prime minister the chief executive (the vote was 68 in favor, 11 against, and 14 abstained). A week later, the parliament votes Anatoly Franchuk the new prime minister. Franchuk is a close friend of Kuchma. The Russia bloc, the largest party in Crimea, has split into two factions over the battle between Meshkov and the parliament. “Russia” is still headed by Serhii Nikulin and supports Meshkov, while the new faction, “Russia-Unity” opposes Meshkov due to what they term his “betrayal” of the interests of the party to reunite Crimea with Russia.
Oct 1994 The Sevastopol city council has decided it can no longer afford to hand over its tax revenues to Kiev due to its economic crisis.
Nov 28, 1994 Russia begins to institute dual citizenship for citizens in CIS member countries unilaterally. There is wide concern that this may provide Russia with even greater leverage in Crimea where Viktor Mezhak, Crimean Supreme Soviet deputy chairman, predicted 1.5 million of Crimea’s 1.7 million Russians would apply.
Jan 4, 1995 According to a recent poll, more than half of all Crimeans believe their peninsula is run by the mafia. Only 10% thought parliament was running the country and 2% thought their president and prime minister were in charge.
Mar 1995 The Ukrainian parliament rescinded Crimea’s constitution and abolished the post of Crimean President. Ukrainian president Kuchma said the region’s parliament could be dissolved if it continued to violate Ukraine’s Constitution. By abolishing the presidency, Ukraine left regional power in Crimea in the hands of its Prime Minister Anatoliy Franchuk. Officials said Ukrainian state ministries, including the military and police, would enforce Ukrainian laws and the dismantling of the Crimean presidency. Unrest continued through May as a result of these moves. The move is supported by Mejlis leaders. Reports have indicated that presumably Kiev will recognize the Mejlis as the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, a move which Crimean authorities have refused to do and which likely will rile the NMCT.
Apr 17, 1995 Ukrainian Cossacks and Crimean Tatars attempt to raise a Ukrainian flag in Simferopol near the city council, but a large group of Russians blocks their way. No overt violence was reported. Russian President Yeltsin announced he would not sign a friendship treaty with Ukraine until it resolves its dispute with Russian nationalists in its Crimean region.
Apr 19, 1995 Russian Foreign Minister Kazyrev warned that Russia is prepared to use force to protect the rights of ethnic Russians living in the former Soviet republics. He noted that Russia could use a range of diplomatic, political and economic means to protect such Russians, adding that Moscow would not exclude the use of force. He insisted he was staking out a moderate position and warned against extremists who might appeal to nationalism in upcoming elections.
May 1, 1995 About 4000 people marked May Day in Simferopol shouting slogans upholding Crimea’s right to independence and condemning Ukraine’s efforts to crush Crimean separatism.
Jul 6, 1995 Pro-Russian chairman of the Crimean Parliament Sergei Tsekov was replaced by Yevgeny Suprunyuk.
Aug 1996 Crimean Parliament Chairman Suprunyuk was kidnapped by unknown assailants. He was held for two days and then escaped. Crimea is plagued by clans of organized crime who hope to gain assets once held by the state or Communist Party.
Oct 8, 1996 Crimean Russians held a congress and proclaimed it their legislature. The congress was attended by Russian State Duma Deputy Vladimir Davidenko. The congress also issued a declaration “On the National Unity of the Russian People.”
Oct 10, 1996 Vasily Kiselyov was elected Chairman of the Crimean Supreme Soviet. Observers think his election could complicate relations between Simferopol and Kiev and lead to increased pro-Russian sentiments on the peninsula. He was congratulated on his election to the highest state office in the Autonomous republic of Crimea by Dmitry Stepanyuk, the Ukrainian President’s permanent representative in Crimea.
Jan 15, 1997 Leaders of the Russian community of Crimea held a press conference to draw attention to what they say is a policy of “language aggression” aimed at “driving out the Russian language in Ukraine.” Last Fall, the Ukrainian president gave instructions to the government and heads of local administrations to intensify control over the putting into effect of the language policy, to draft a new edition of the law on language, to work out privileges for the publication and circulation of materials in Ukrainian and to issue licenses only to those TV companies which broadcast mostly in Ukrainian. The press conference organizers claimed the president violated the Ukrainian constitution which guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian and other languages of national minorities. They also sent a message to the Russian government suggesting it “examine the problem of the language rights of Russian population of Ukraine and Crimea, the situation of Russians and Russian Culture in Ukraine and especially in the regions traditionally inhabited by Russians and discuss a possibility of rendering assistance for the purpose of preserving Russian culture, as well as the Russian language and information space.”
Feb 1997 Crimea’s mainly pro-Russian parliament sacked speaker Vasily Kiselyov whom deputies accused of being too favorable to Ukraine.
Feb 23, 1997 Crimean communists attending a meeting in Simferopol have called on authorities to cut off relations with NATO. The Congress of the Russian People called on Russian and Ukrainian leaders to immediately sign a defensive union recognizing Sevastopol as the main base of the Black Sea Fleet.
Mar 18, 1997 Riot police in Crimea prevented about 1000 protestors from storming the parliament building in Simferopol during a demonstration calling for the return of the peninsula to Russia. Pro-Russian communist groups organized the demonstration which was attended by about 5000 people.
Mar 20, 1997 An announcement that the U.S. and Ukraine would participate in joint naval exercises this summer brought a protest from Russia. The outcry over the planned exercise was traced to an early scenario drawn up by the Ukraine in which a separatist revolt by and unnamed “ethnically based party” is threatening the integrity of Ukraine. The separatists in the scenario are backed by an “unnamed neighboring country.” The unnamed party was interpreted by Moscow to be Crimean Russians and the unnamed neighboring country Russia itself. The U.S. rejected this scenario outright. A previous joint exercise (July 1995) went off without controversy. (Note Protests against the exercises, especially by Russians in the Crimea, occurred on an almost weekly basis until the maneuvers were held in September, and will not be further mentioned unless otherwise noteworthy.)
Mar 27, 1997 President Kuchma, in a news conference in Moscow, called for a resolution of the Black Sea Fleet issue, and bilateral relations between the two republics. (Xinhua 3/27/97)
Apr 4, 1997 Shortly after limiting the amount of Russian language programming transmitted to the Crimea, Kiev reduced the amount of Russian-language broadcasting in Crimea to four hours a week. (TASS 4/4/97)
Apr 9, 1997 The Crimean parliament voted overwhelmingly to oust Prime Minister Arkady Demidenko, the third attempt to oust him since January. Observers said the ouster of Demidenko was based on clan rivalry (the leader of the movement was related to President Kuchma through marriage) rather than pressure to forge closer ties with Moscow or Kiev. According to the constitution, the Ukrainian head of state must approve the resignation of the Crimean government. (Agence France Presse 4/9/97) The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament suggested that Ukraine join the planned union of Russia and Belarus, arguing “those Slav states should form the core of integration in the CIS.” (NOTE The issue of union with Russia and/or Belarus recurs regularly throughout the period covered by this update, and will not be further mentioned unless otherwise noteworthy.” (British Broadcasting Corporation 4/11/97)
Apr 10, 1997 During Ukrainian hearings on the freedom of the media, the Ukrainian Information Ministry said that the number of Ukrainian-language books published in 1996 was 2.3 times less than the number in 1970, and 1.15 times less than the number in 1990. In addition, ninety percent of the 70 private radio stations in Ukraine broadcast in Russian. The Information Minister used these statistics to decry what he called the “Russification” of Ukraine and called on the parliament to defend the Ukrainian language. He also blamed Ukrainian media’s freedom to broadcast in the language of their choice, and the “amorphous-democratic” laws for this decline. (TASS 4/10/97)
Apr 17, 1997 Russia’s upper house of parliament voted to make the contested city of Sevastopol a special international city. The Federation Council insisted that its proposal did not amount to Russian territorial designs on Sevastopol. The Deputy Foreign Minister representing Ukrainian interests in the Black Sea Fleet negotiations rejected the proposal, saying that Sevastopol was unequivocally a part of Ukraine. (Agence France Presse 4/17/97 and TASS 4/22/97)
Apr 20, 1997 A Russian Federation Council commission dealing with the question of Sevastopol decided that Russia should directly declare its historical rights to the city and declare it an international city under international law, perhaps appealing to the UN. The commission declared the 1954 Supreme Soviet resolution that turned Crimea over to the Ukraine unconstitutional, saying the presidium did not have the authority to do so. (British Broadcasting Corporation 4/22/97)
May 7, 1997 About 150 activists from pro-Russian public organizations picketed the Sevastopol State TV and Radio Company for two hours to demand a resumption of Russian Public Television [ORT] broadcasts in the city, instead of the Inter channel. The TV company promised to restore the 10-hour ORT broadcasts in the near future. Prior to mid-April, Sevastopol was the only city in Crimea that received ORT instead of Inter. (British Broadcasting Corporation 5/16/97)
May 21, 1997 Sixty of the 70 deputies of the Crimean parliament passed a resolution to oust Premier Arkadi Demidenko, in the eighth attempt. After the last attempt in March, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma vetoed the decision of the Crimean parliament as “contradicting Ukraine’s law.” (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/21/97)
May 27, 1997 The Russian Prime Minister reacted with concern to a proposed new Ukrainian language law which he said would “limit and force out” the Russian language from intellectual life. He claimed that Russians and Russian-speakers were often denied their rights and were often denied employment or residence permits based on their citizenship. (TASS 5/27/97) Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavel Lasarenko offered to lease a portion of the port of Sevastopol to Russia for 20 years as part of an agreement on the Black Sea fleet. An agreement to that effect was signed the following day. However, most Sevastopol and Crimea residents felt the agreement was not in their advantage, and appealed to the Federation Council and State Duma not to ratify the Black Sea agreement. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 5/27/97 and TASS 5/28/97 & 5/30/97)
May 31, 1997 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed a treaty of friendship, cooperation and partnership, which promised that the two countries would respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, not violate the present borders, nor interfere in each other’s internal affairs. The treaty marked the first time Russia had formally recognized Ukraine’s independence, and was decried by some Russian politicians as a sign of giving up hope of protecting Russians or the Russian language in Ukraine. About 150 Russian protestors demonstrated in Sevastopol over the weekend, saying Yeltsin had betrayed them by accepting Crimea as part of Ukraine. (Xinhua 5/31/97 and The Independent [London] 5/30/97 and Financial Times 6/2/97)
Jun 3, 1997 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma named Anatoli Franchuk – the father of his son-in-law – as new prime minister of the autonomous Crimean Republic, and approved the removal of the outgoing Crimean prime minister, Arkadi Demidenko. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 6/3/97)
Sep 19, 1997 The Sevastopol Committee of Veterans of War and the Armed Forces appealed to both chambers of the Russian Parliament, to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, to the Citizenship Committee under the President of Russia, to Russia’s Foreign Minister and to the OSCE mission in Crimea to study the prospect of granting the people of Sevastopol Russian citizenship. If given Ukrainian passports – which they had not had previously – the residents would not be allowed to work at Russian Black Sea Fleet facilities, and children of Russian seamen would not be allowed to enter Russian naval academies or serve in the Russian Armed Forces. They claimed they were being forcefully assimilated into Ukraine and Ukrainian citizenship, in violation of the Human Rights Charter and the (yet unratified) Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. (Soviet Press Digest 9/19/97)
Oct 7, 1997 Soyuz, a political party founded in Crimea, announced its campaign platform would include the protection of the Russian language and culture, the integration of the Slavonic republics, and the development of regional self-government in Ukraine to counterbalance the unitary principle underlying the state system. The Soyuz congress received congratulatory telegrams from Crimean leaders, as well as Moscow’s Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, and other Russian politicians. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/9/97)
Oct 15, 1997 The Crimean parliament voted to make Russian the region’s official language in place of Ukrainian. Fifty-six of the parliament’s 96 deputies approved the motion and four voted against. The Kurultai faction, which represents ethnic Tartars, boycotted the vote. According to the Ukrainian constitution, Ukrainian is the only official language. The new resolution runs counter to the Ukrainian legislation, under which all official documents should be made in Ukrainian. It is also at variance with the Crimean constitution which says that Russian is both an official language of the republic and a state language, together with the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages. The article of the Crimean constitution dealing with languages was not approved by the Ukrainian parliament. The parliament also passed the law “On timekeeping in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” which required the peninsula to switch to Moscow time. (Agence France Presse 10/15/97 & TASS 10/16/97 and British Broadcasting Corporation 10/17/97)
Oct 22, 1997 The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers set up a subcommission for issues connected with the stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian territory, within the framework of the earlier Ukrainian-Russian agreement on the Fleet. The chairman of Sevastopol city council, Viktor Semenov, became the head of the new structure. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/25/97)
Oct 24, 1997 The Sevasopol branch of the Crimean voters’ movement held a rally accusing the Ukrainian state of annexing Crimea and seizing Sevastopol. The resolution passed at the rally demanded that the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe “take measures in response to Ukraine’s illegal actions,” and asked the Russian leadership not to ratify the treaty between Ukraine and Russia on Sevastopol’s status. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/27/97)
Oct 25, 1997 Ukrainian President Kuchma declared that the Crimea’s October 15 law legalizing the third time zone [Moscow time] on the peninsula violated a number of provisions in the Ukrainian constitution, and ordered it suspended. (British Broadcasting Corporation 10/27/97)
Nov 5, 1997 President Leonid Kuchma said that no forced “Ukrainisation” or violation of rights of ethnic Russians will occur in Ukraine, but reaffirmed that Ukrainian was the republic’s only official language and called on citizens to respect it. (TASS 11/5/97)
Nov 11, 1997 Eighteen parties, movements and organizations – including the People’s Democratic Party, the Agrarian Party of Ukraine and the Ukrainian People’s Movement – joined to create a bloc called For the Dignified Life and the Future of Sevastopol Residents. They hoped the bloc would “ensure, through representatives of the bloc in all branches of power, gradual and justified economic reforms together with effective social protection measures for Sevastopol residents; and to ensure the full implementation of Russian-Ukrainian agreements concerning Sevastopol.” (British Broadcasting Corporation 11/13/97)
Nov 13, 1997 At the Ukrainian Supreme Council session, people’s deputies debated two alternative draft laws on the Crimean Supreme Council, one submitted by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the other by a group of Ukrainian deputies. The draft law submitted by the Ukrainian president, envisaged proportional, single-seat territorial district elections of deputies to the Ukrainian parliament, with special ethnic constituencies for representatives of the Crimean Tatar people and other deported ethnic groups and minorities living in Crimea.. The initiators of the alternative bill opposed this because they believed this would introduce national quotas for an indefinite period. Instead, they proposed that the elections to the Crimean Supreme Council be conducted on the basis of universal, equal and direct electoral rights in secret ballots under a mixed (majority and proportional) electoral system. (British Broadcasting Corporation 11/15/97)
Nov 30, 1997 About 250 people from the Sevastopol branch of the all-Crimean movement of voters for the Republic of Crimea held a rally in Sevastopol to protest what they considered to be the fraudulent 1991 referendum on Ukrainian independence, and their dissatisfaction with a Sevastopol city council decision not to take part in Crimean parliamentary elections. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/3/97)
Dec 2, 1997 About 400 people mounted three picket lines by the Sevastopol city council to accuse council members of being “traitors” and to demand the abolition of their decision to keep Sevastopol out of the Crimean parliamentary election. Within half an hour, a group of disabled employees of the Sevastopol marine works arrived at the picket line demanding the timely payment of disability benefit. They were later joined by about 300 members of the union committee of the Sevastopol city water treatment plant protesting a four-month delay in wage payments. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/4/97)
Dec 3, 1997 A spokesman for the Ukrainian President warned against “playing the Crimean card” in the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary elections. Crimean elections had been delayed pending the adoption of the law “On the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” by the Ukrainian parliament. The Ukrainian government felt the new law was necessary because the old law was unconstitutional; those who tried to delay the new law – which had been drawn up by the Ukrainian president – would risk postponing the Crimean elections. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/5/97) About 500 people representing the People’s Opposition Union of Crimea, the Union of Soviet Officers, and the Crimean Republican Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine picketed the Crimean parliament building, demanding that Crimean elections be held on 29th March 1998 [when parliamentary elections were to be held in Ukraine] and that a Crimean electoral commission be set up. The protesters threatened to block the Crimean parliament if their demands had not been met by December 10th. The leader of the Crimean Republican Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Leonid Hrach, noted that under the Ukrainian constitution election to bodies of power, whatever the level, should take place on the same day, and accused Crimean legislators of trying to extend their terms by debating the issue of the election date. (British Broadcasting Corporation12/5/97)
Dec 10, 1997 Ukraine’s Supreme Council approved in the first reading a draft law “On the election of people’s deputies to the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.” Under the law, elections were to be held in Crimea on the basis of a mixed (majority and proportional) electoral system. A total of 100 deputies were to be elected; 50 deputies from single-seat constituencies on the basis of a relative majority, and 50 deputies from party lists submitted by Crimean regional organizations on the basis of proportional representation. The law stipulated that the next election to the Crimean parliament would take place on the last Sunday of March of the parliament’s fourth year in office. Speaking at the Ukrainian parliament session, Crimean Supreme Council Chairman Anatoliy Hrytsenko voiced his disagreement with a number of provisions. He felt all the Crimean parliament deputies should work on a permanent basis and that the Crimean Supreme Council should have had the right to coordinate the appointment of heads of power-wielding structures in Crimea, who are appointed by the Ukrainian president. The chairman also wanted to give the Council the power to adopt laws. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/22/97) The Ukrainian Supreme Council approved a resolution recommending that the Crimean Supreme Council submit to the Ukrainian parliament before the end of December a draft Crimean constitution in the form of an integral document complying with the Ukrainian constitution. The Ukrainian government maintained that the Crimean constitution contained provisions contradicting the Ukrainian constitution, including regulations and provisions regarding the status of the state languages in Crimea, Crimean citizenship, relations between the Crimean budget and the center, and the authority of the Crimean Supreme Council to suspend the effect of the regulations issued by the Ukrainian executive on Crimean territory. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/12/97)
Dec 11, 1997 By this date, almost a quarter of a million Tatars who had been deported from Crimea by Stalin had returned. Out of this number, practically 147,000 returned before November 13, 1991, and by law, were citizens of Ukraine, while the remainder had to be naturalized.. Half of the returnees are over the age of 18, i.e., they are of voting age, but many cannot vote because they are considered foreigners. Only 74 percent of the Crimean Tatars have applied for Ukrainian citizenship, and only 45 percent of the Tatars residing in Crimea had the right to participate in elections. (Soviet Press Digest 12/11/97)
Dec 22, 1997 Ukraine’s parliament refused to review the 1989 law on languages, which declared Ukrainian the country’s state language, even though the parliamentary speaker said Ukraine should pay equal attention to Ukrainian, Russian and other languages. Parliament maintained that reducing Russian language classes in Ukrainian schools to optional lessons was a violation of this law. (TASS 12/22/97)
Jan 17, 1998 The Sevastopol branch of the Crimean Voters’ Movement for a Crimean republic held a rally to mark the seventh anniversary of the re-creation of the Crimean republic. Among their demands were that Russia’ s Federation Council not ratify the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership, and Cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. Furthermore, they wanted the Crimean parliament to draw up a constitution for Crimea and be able to submit it to popular approval through referenda. They also called for a referendum on the status of Crimea. In addition, they protested for restoration of the right of Sevastopol citizens to take part in the election of Crimean Supreme Council deputies and the implementation of the Crimean parliament’s resolutions “On time zones” and “On the functioning of the Russian language.” Approximately 200 people attended the rally. (British Broadcasting Corporation 1/20/98)
Jan 27, 1998 The government of Ukraine visited Crimea, noting that the economy had not shown much improvement. Industrial production in the region remained one of the highest in Ukraine, but agriculture was in crisis, investment was decreasing, and unemployment and wage arrears rose in 1997. (TASS 1/27/98)
Jan 28, 1998 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma refused to sign the law “On the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” stating that the document contained many provisions that did not conform to the constitution and the laws of Ukraine. Among other problems, Kuchma cited the use of the majority/proportional-representation parliamentary election system envisaged by the law, which he felt was premature and likely to lead to the violation of the fundamental principles of civic rights and freedoms. There were also provisions which restricted the right of Ukrainian citizens to stand for public office and local self-government positions in Crimea, and a five-year residence term as a prerequisite for election to the Crimean parliament, which Kuchma felt should not apply to Crimean Tatars and representatives of other deported nations. (British Broadcasting Corporation 1/29/98)
Feb 1, 1998 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed a decree on control over the local authorities in Yalta, which appointed an acting head of the city’s administration until a new mayor could be elected. Ten city councilmen, who felt Kuchma had overstepped his authority, staged a sit-in at the city hall the following day in protest, while 300 people gathered outside city hall to keep the police out. The Crimean Council appealed to Ukraine’s Constitutional Court to decide the legality of the matter on February 5. (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/2/98 & 2/6/98 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/3/98)
Feb 4, 1998 The Crimean parliament voted overwhelmingly to put a proposed referendum on the peninsula on its agenda. The referendum was to include questions of whether inhabitants would like to return to Russian jurisdiction, to restore the provisions of the less restrictive 1992 Crimean constitution, and to adopt Russian as the area’s official language. The referendum decision was prompted in part by the events in Yalta. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/4/98)
Feb 24, 1998 Surveys conducted by the Kiev Center of Political Research and Conflict Resolution revealed that 31% of all inhabitants of Ukraine considered themselves to some extent Russian including 11.5% who claimed to be Russian; 5% more Russian than Ukrainian, and 14.5% equally Russian and Ukrainian. The surveys also indicated that 55% of all inhabitants of Ukraine preferred Russian as their everyday language. (What The Papers Say 2/24/98) The parliament of the Crimean peninsula agreed to hold its elections simultaneously with the elections of the Ukrainian parliament on March 29, ending a week-long tug-of-war between the peninsula and central power in Kiev. President Kuchma had threatened to call a state of emergency if the parliament did not agree to simultaneous elections. In addition, on February 22, the Ukrainian Justice Ministry had declared that the September election date proposed by the Crimean parliament would illegally extend the rule of the current parliament past its maximum four years. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 2/24/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 2/24/98)
Feb 24, 1998 The Crimean Tatar People’s Majlis threatened to organize protests and possibly to disrupt the Crimean parliamentary election because they feared that the new majority voting system in Crimea would deprive Crimean Tatars of representation in the new Crimean parliament. According to the Majlis leader, 167,485 of the Crimean Tatars then resident in Crimea were over 18, but only about 97,000 (58 per cent) were Ukrainian citizens. Others, mostly those who arrived after 1st January 1992, had not yet been granted Ukrainian citizenship. (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/25/98) Russian newspapers were blocked at the Ukraine border for several weeks. Ukrainian officials maintained that the newspapers had not paid their customs duties, but the newspapers claimed they were being asked to pay a surcharge for the circulation of Russian material in Ukraine, which they refused. On the eve of the parliamentary elections, many, especially in the Russian media, saw the move as political. (Soviet Press Digest 3/12/98)
Mar 5, 1998 According to a poll by the Democratic Initiatives fund and Sotsis-Gallup, approximately 57 percent of voters would back a candidate, party, or bloc for the Ukrainian parliament if they advocated Ukraine’s admission to the Russia-Byelorussia Union. The poll, which included 1,800 respondents from various segments of population and various regions, also found that 44 percent of respondents favored granting the Russian language a status as the second state language. (TASS 3/5/98)
Mar 6, 1998 Ukrainian customs seized all periodicals arriving in the Crimean peninsula from Russia, allegedly because the Ukrposhta agency, directly responsible for deliveries, had not settled its debts with the Ukrainian customs. Crimea’s largest newspaper, however, described the arrest of Russian periodicals as “a political action seeking to torpedo the efforts of President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine to establish friendly relations with Russia.” (British Broadcasting Corporation 3/7/98)
Mar 22, 1998 Three people were hurt in an explosion at the office of the Communist Party and the Russian Society of Crimea in Yevpatoriya on Crimea’s west coast. The victims accused the Yevpatoriya mayor, Andriy Danylenko, of ordering the attack. A series of political figures in Crimea had been attacked over the course of the previous months; this attack may or may not have been targetting Russians. (British Broadcasting Corporation 3/24/98)
Mar 25, 1998 The Crimean police chief said large numbers of Ukrainian interior troops would be sent to Crimea to maintain order during the March 29 parliamentary elections. The day before in Simferopol, ethnic Tatars wounded 19 police during a rally for parliamentary electoral rights for all repatriates regardless of their citizenship. (TASS 3/25/98)
Mar 27, 1998 The Ukrainian Constitutional Court ruled that the Crimean “Law on Calculating Time,” which declared Crimea would use the same time zone as Moscow, was in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution, and that the Crimean parliament did not have the authority to make law, only decrees. (British Broadcasting Corporation 3/30/98)
Mar 29, 1998 In Ukrainian elections, the Communists won 84 of 225 seats voted under the party list system in the 450-seat parliament. The nationalist Rukh Party won 32 seats, the Green Party — 19, the Peoples’ Democratic Party — 17 seats, Gromada association — 16 and the Progressive Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party (United) — 14 seats each, under the party list system. The Communists won another 39 seats in the first-past-the-post constituencies, which made them the biggest single party faction with an aggregate of 123 seats. Turnout reached 70% in some places, and the Crimean Tatars continued to protest their relative lack of representation up to the day of the election. In Crimea, thirty-six of the deputies elected to the Crimean parliament represented the Communist Party of Ukraine, five the Agrarian Party of Ukraine, and four seats each went to representatives of the People’s Democratic Party and the Union Party. The Party of Economic Revival won two seats and the Socialist Party of Ukraine – one seat. (TASS 4/1/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 3/30/98 & 4/1/98)
May 19, 1998 The Crimean Supreme Council parliament set the Crimean parliament election for the last Sunday of September in 1998. It also approved a constitutional submission on whether the Ukrainian Supreme Council’s resolution of 12th February 1998 “On the Crimean Supreme Council election” and the law of Ukraine “On the election of Crimean Supreme Council deputies” complied with the Ukrainian constitution. The Council acted in part because they felt they had no current legal regulations to guide Crimean elections. (British Broadcasting Corporation 2/19/98)
May 27, 1998 A coalition government of the Crimean autonomy was formed, consisting predominantly of representatives of the Communist Party, the People’s Democratic Party of Ukraine (NDPU) and the “Soyuz” (union) Party. (TASS 5/27/98)
Jun 15, 1998 Information Minister Kulik admitted that the Ukrainian government could not use legal means or financial means to prohibit information companies from using other languages to transmit information in Ukraine, making it impossible to stop broadcasts in the Russian language. (British Broadcasting Corporation 6/19/98)
Aug 4, 1998 Representatives from regional branches of Ukraine’s parties and public organizations in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea signed a declaration on concord for the sake of Crimea’s revival in Sevastopol. They wanted to counteract what they called the “the protracted and all-embracing economic and spiritual crisis in Ukraine,” and emphasized the need for concord in the community. They also declared their readiness to cooperate with the Supreme Council [parliament] and Council of Ministers of the autonomy [Crimea] on issues that directly concern the socioeconomic condition and wellbeing of citizens. The 21 representatives of political parties and community organizations who signed the declaration agreed to the creation of a coordinating council that will meet at least once a month. (British Broadcasting Corporation 8/7/98)
Aug 26, 1998 Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov opened a Russian school in Sevastopol, declaring it would strengthen the belief that “Sevastopol will return to the lap of Russia.” The new school was meant for the children of the servicemen of the Russian Black Sea fleet, and had been built with Russian funds, as had the repair of ships and the construction of housing for the seamen. Luzhkov’s comments, including remarks about Sevastopol being a Russian city and the “Ukrainization” of the city, later caused official criticism from Ukraine. (TASS 8/26/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 8/30/98)
Sep 16, 1998 The Crimean parliament approved an agreement between Crimea and Moscow on cooperation in the trade, economic, scientific, technical, humanitarian and cultural fields. The agreement was supported by 85 of the 90 Crimean parliament deputies who attended the session, while ten deputies did not attend. (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/17/98)
Sep 22, 1998 At a meeting with the chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Council, Crimean Supreme Council chairman Leonid Hrach stressed that the Crimean Council of Ministers did not have power to rule either through the legislation of Ukraine or its constitution. He added that Crimea would never agree to be made simply into a Regional state administration. Hrach felt the Crimean parliament needed the right to conclude agreements with local self- government bodies on socioeconomic issues and cultural development of Crimean regions, as well as to make provision for the “mutual delegation of individual powers by parliament and local councils.” (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/23/98)
Oct 18, 1998 The National Movement of the Crimean Tatars held a meeting of some 200 delegates from the Crimea, other Ukrainian regions, Russia and the Central Asia. They called on Ukraine to voluntarily disavow the 1954 act on the transfer of the Crimea to Ukraine and to settle relations with the Crimean Autonomous Republic on the basis of an agreement with Russia, Simferopol, and commissioners of the Crimean Tatars. The National Movement of the Crimean Tatars, which proclaimed itself “a special political self-organization of the people,” seeks, among other things, the restoration of statehood in the Crimea. (TASS 10/18/98)
Oct 21, 1998 The parliament of the Crimea approved a new version of the republic’s constitution, the fifth proposal since Crimea’s 1992 independence from Ukraine. In contrast to some earlier drafts, the new version of the main law did not call for attributes of statehood such as separate citizenship or a separate legal system. According to newspaper accounts, Crimean separatism lost its impetus after the division of the Black Sea Fleet. The Russian Duma later condemned the new constitution, which declared Ukrainian to be the sole official language of the Crimea, as being discriminatory to the Russian population. The Ukrainian foreign ministry denied the claims. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 10/21/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 10/26/98 & 10/28/98)
Nov 7, 1998 As part of a rally marking the 81st anniversary of the October Revolution, Leonid Hrach proposed to hold a referendum during Ukrainian elections on October 29th, 1999, on giving Russian the status of a second state language in Ukraine. (British Broadcasting Corporation 11/9/98)
Nov 17, 1998 Simferopol University released a poll showed that 92 percent of graduates of Crimean schools and higher educational establishments favored granting Russian official status on the peninsula. According to the poll results, 95 percent of local Ukrainians, 80 percent of Crimean Tatars, 100 percent of Russians and 93 percent of people of other ethnicities spoke Russian. Some 85 percent of the respondents wanted their children to be taught in Russian. When asked about the naturalization preference, 27 percent of the respondents chose the citizenship of Ukraine, 25 percent favored the citizenship of Russia, 21 percent wanted that of the former Soviet Union and 10 percent that of the United States. (TASS 11/17/98)
Nov 24, 1998 Crimean Tatars appealed to President Kuchma and the parliament not to examine the Crimean constitution until the adoption of legislative and regulative acts on the renewal of Crimean Tatar rights in Ukraine. Tatars believed that adoption of the constitution of Crimean autonomy without the consideration of other issues would be detrimental to Ukraine’s development and could lead to consolidation of antigovernment forces in Crimea. (British Broadcasting Corporation 11/28/98)
Nov 30, 1998 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s monitoring committee threatened to strip the Ukrainian delegation of its credentials if it did not act more swiftly to build a law-governed state, to transfer the penitentiary system from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry, and to pass laws improving the work of local bodies of power, ending the death penalty, ensuring the rights of Crimean Tatars, and adopting the constitution of Crimea. (TASS 11/30/98)
Dec 15, 1998 The Ukrainian parliament did not approve the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC), as deputies from the Gromada and People’s Democrats parties and the Rukh nationalist movement frustrated the voting by hurling insults at Premier Hrach. Rukh representatives claimed that Crimea had been granted too many rights. The Constitution, with a few revisions, was eventually approved on Dec. 23, 1998, with a vote of 230 to 67 with 3 abstentions. The Constitution specified that the ARC was an inalienable part of Ukraine, whose powers were defined by the Ukrainian constitution and Ukrainian laws as well as by the ARC constitution. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine was to resolve issues of constitutionality and whether ARC laws were consistent with the Ukrainian constitution. Laws guaranteed the development and protection of the Ukrainian language, as well as Russian, Crimean Tatar and other nationalities, and the right of individuals to study in their native languages. Official documents were to be issued in Ukrainian and Russian, and Crimean Tatar upon request. The Constitution went into effect January 12, 1999. (TASS 12/15/98 and Deutsche Presse-Agentur 12/23/98 and British Broadcasting Corporation 12/26/98)
Jul 17, 1999 In a press conference, President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine should have only Ukrainian as its state language, but that the Russian language was not oppressed in the Republic. “I am categorically opposed to pressing Russian or Ukrainian. But people will understand that they live in Ukraine and must know the Ukrainian language,” he said. (TASS 7/17/99)
Aug 30, 1999 On live Ukrainian television, President Leonid Kuchma again advocated the importance of the state Ukrainian language as well as Russian. Kuchma advocated compulsory Ukrainian lessons in Russian schools, as well as the teaching of Russian and other foreign languages for Ukrainian schools. Kuchma also said that he opposed autonomy for the Crimean Tatars within Crimea, which he said would affect the balance between ethnic groups in the area. The Tatars were assumed to be the dominant ethnic group within the Crimea after about 270,000 Crimean Tatars had returned to Ukraine in the course of a few years. (British Broadcasting Corporation 8/31/99 & 9/1/99) Criminal proceedings began against some members of the National Bolshevist Party who ascended the spire of the Sailors’ Club of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol on August 24th (Ukraine’s Independence Day) in protest against the transfer of Sevastopol to Ukraine. They were charged with aggravated hooliganism and the seizure of club premises after the Sevastopol militia said that leaflets and anti-Ukrainian literature had been confiscated from National Bolshevist Party members in Sevastopol in the course of search-and-prevention operations. (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/1/99)
Sep 15, 1999 Ukrainian television reported on ongoing ethnic tensions in the Crimea, including a rise in arrests related to the smuggling of provocative literature, arms, and ammunition to the peninsula. The Crimean prime minister was quoted as saying that interethnic relations were the number one issue in the Crimea, but most of the article focused on tensions with the Tatar community, not Russians. (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/16/99) During a visit to Ukraine, OSCE Commissioner for national minorities, Max van der Stoel, said that he felt that the Russian minority in Ukraine, in particular in Crimea, encountered no problems in daily life. (British Broadcasting Corporation 9/16/99)
Nov 7, 1999 Crimean President Leonid Hrach publicly accused Crimean prime minister, Serhiy Kunitsyn, and the representative of the Ukrainian president in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Anatoliy Korniychuk, of trying to start a coup d’etat. The two subsequently threatened to sue Hrach for libel, who countered by demanding that they be fired. The crisis eventually led to a series of dismissals during questionable meetings of parliament which were held while the sessions were officially closed. (British Broadcasting Corporation 11/17/99 & 12/15/99)
Dec 10, 1999 A group of Tatars seized the administrative offices in Bakhchysaray and demanded that their representative be appointed head of the district. Members of the Supreme Council of the Crimea and activists of the Russian community held a counter-demonstration outside the building a few days later to speak out against the Tatar demands that people be appointed based on ethnicity. (British Broadcasting Corporation 12/11/99 and What the Papers Say 12/15/99)
Jan 5, 2000 The Ukrainian Parliament formally ratified the European Charter On Local Languages and the Languages of Minorities, which Ukraine had signed when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995. The Charter guaranteed the right of Russian speakers to use Russian in public life in all areas of Ukraine where a minimum of 20% of the population spoke Russian. Russian groups claimed that all of Ukraine met this requirement. However, on Dec. 14 in accordance with Article 10 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized Ukrainian as the only “compulsory means of communication for officials of the local government bodies and local self-government structures while discharging their duties and in all the public spheres of social life, as well as in clerical work.” The ruling meant that all public officials, including police and teachers, could only use Ukrainian while on duty, and that inadequate knowledge of Ukrainian could be grounds for the dismissal of public workers. The law also applied to Crimea. (TASS 1/5/00 and Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press 1/19/00)
Feb 16, 2000 Dmitry Bulgakov, a Russian living in Crimea, filed a case in international court, claiming that the government had Ukrainized his name on his passport. He said while Tatars and other ethnic groups in Ukraine retained their names on government documents, the names of Russian speakers were regularly Ukrainized, and that his previous appeals in district and Crimean courts had not restored his identity. (TASS 2/16/00)
Feb 26, 2000 The Soyuz (Union) party and several other organizations called a conference on human rights and languages in which they criticized Ukrainian authorities for carrying out a policy aimed at forcing the Russian language out of the country. Delegates to the conference cited examples of language discrimination and mass violations of people’s right to speak their native tongue. (TASS 2/26/00)
May 25, 2000 The Crimean parliament demanded the resignation of the Crimean cabinet, sparking increased tensions with Ukraine and a series of demonstrations by the Tatars calling for the dissolution of the parliament and the implementation of direct presidential rule. (British Broadcasting Corporation 5/25/00 & 5/27/00)
May 29, 2000 Ukrainian radio reported on the steady loss of radio programming in Crimea, which it attributed to several sources. Although the radio stations did owe money to local broadcasters, the greater problem lay in a new Ukrainian law which was reputed to ban editing of national radio broadcasts (including the addition of local news or the translation of items into local languages). Since the programming could not be reread, the original weak transmissions were simply rebroadcast. In addition, the exact provisions of the law were unknown, and there was some suspicion that the law – which would have been unconstitutional – did not even exist. (British Broadcasting Corporation 5/29/00)
Jul 14, 2000 The Constitutional Court of Ukraine decided that the law “On the Ratification of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages 1992” was unconstitutional, based on irregularities in the way it was ratified and approved. (Interfax 7/14/00)

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