Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Chairman of the republic’s Supreme Council (parliament) Vladimir Konstantinov said "We will bring up the issue of expanding Crimea's autonomous status to that of a state. Thereunder, we are planning to build our relations with the central government on a treaty basis.... This land belongs to the Russian world. We would like everyone to remember that. It's a millennium-old history. The people of Russia and Ukraine belong to the Russian world".
Authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea plan using the experience gained by Scotland and Catalonia as they prepare a referendum on the political future of their region. Officials in Crimea are confident this will mean that the campaign, the goal of which is to revise the status of the region upwards to a full-fledged state from an autonomous entity, will be conducted in line with all the norms accepted in the current European regional policies.
The Supreme Council of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea dismissed the regional government February 27, 2014, electing a pro-Russian party leader as its new chair. The decision to dismiss Crimea’s Council of Ministers was supported by 55 out of 64 Crimean MPs. The no-confidence motion came as a result of “unsatisfactory” work by the regional government.
The MPs also voted in favor of holding a referendum to decide the future of Crimea on 25 May 2014. The referendum would coincide with the early Ukrainian presidential and city mayoral elections. The presidium of the Crimean parliament announced that they were confident "that only by holding an All-Crimean referendum on the issue of improving the status of the Autonomy and expanding its powers Crimeans will be able to determine the future of the Autonomy on their own and without any external pressure.” As a result of “the unconstitutional seizure of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists supported by armed gangs,” Crimea’s peace and order is “under threat,” said Oksana Korniychuk, the press secretary of the head of the parliament.
Crimea was ceded by the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, in recognition of historic links and for economic convenience, to mark the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's union with Russia. Ethnic tensions in Crimea during 1992 prompted a number of pro-Russian political organizations to advocate secession of Crimea and annexation to Russia. In July 1992, the Crimean and Ukrainian parliaments determined that Crimea would remain under Ukrainian jurisdiction while retaining significant cultural and economic autonomy.
There are 24 administrative regions (oblasts), the Autonomous Republic of Crimea [ARC], and two municipalities (Kyiv and Sevastopol). The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is situated in the Crimean peninsula. It is washed by the Black Sea in the west, south and south-east and by the Azov Sea in the north-east. In the north the peninsula borders with the continental Ukraine. The area of Crimea is 27,000 square km. The population is 2,650,000 people. Crimea is inhabited mainly by Russians, Ukrainians, Tartars, as well as Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Germans and others. About 68% of the whole population lives in the cities.
Crimea had first experienced autonomy during the civil war (1918-1920). The Red Army (the Soviet Republic of Tavrida (1918) and Crimean SSR (1919)) as well as the White Army (regional governments (1918-1919) and government of P.N.Vrangel (1920)), were forced to give the elements of statehood to the Crimea. The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1921) was created due to the joint Decree of the all union Central Executive Committee and Council of Public Commissars "in borders of the Crimean peninsula" and was part of the structure of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic. It was claimed as the Republic on the First Crimean Constituent Congress of the Soviets. In 1945 by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR it was abolished and transformed into the Crimean region. In 1954 the Crimean region was transferred to the structure of Ukraine by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR.
The Republic of Crimea was granted special status, with considerable autonomy in its internal affairs. The identification of the Russian population in Crimea with Russia had initially not led to confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, despite the sometimes elevated rhetoric. President Kravchuk repeatedly expressed the view that the autonomous Republic of Crimea ought to have considerable latitude in the economic field. For instance, in the spring of 1992, he expressed his willingness to leave to Crimea the control of all "territorial property" on the peninsula. He also stated that Crimea ought to have "all the necessary political and legal opportunities to realise its special potential".
On 20 May 1994, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of the Republic of Crimea adopted the Law `On Renewal of the Constitutional Basis of the Statehood of the Republic of Crimea' which resumed the sections of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea of May 6, 1992, aimed at changing the legal status of the autonomous Republic of Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine. By this act, the legislative body of the autonomous Republic of Crimea violated the Constitution of the Ukraine, its legislation in force, including the Law of Ukraine `On the Delimination of Powers between the State Power Authorities of Ukraine and the Republic of Crimea' of 29 April 1992.
A Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was adopted on 01 November 1995. Defense, armed forces and security were some other matters which the Constitution of the ARC adopted on 1 November 1995 recognizes as belonging to the exclusive competence of Ukraine. The ARC entered into relations with official bodies of other states and with international organizations only in matters pertaining to the economy, environmental protection and cultural relations that are subject to its jurisdiction.
A new Constitution, adopted by the Crimean Parliament on 21 October 1998 had to be approved by the Ukrainian Parliament. It defined the legal framework for an Autonomous Republic of Crimea within the Ukrainian State. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea exercises normative regulation on the following issues: agriculture and forestry; land reclamation and mining; public works, crafts and trades; charity; city construction and housing management; tourism, hotel business, fairs; museums, libraries, theatres, other cultural establishments, historical and cultural preserves; public transportation, roadways, water supply; hunting and fishing; and sanitary and hospital services.
The successful completion in 1999 of the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Ukraine was an important contribution by the OSCE to the process of stabilization in its Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
There were complex issues associated with Crimea's multiethnic population and with the return to Crimea of over 250,000 deported people and their descendants, the overwhelming majority of whom are Crimean Tatars. There were considerable difficulties for Tatars still without Ukrainian citizenship who have already arrived in Crimea.
Crimean Tatar leaders continued to call for changes in the electoral law allowing them to achieve greater representation in the Crimean and national parliaments; current law does not allow the creation of political parties on the regional level, so Crimean Tatars had to join national political parties or blocs. Only one Crimean Tatar representative was a member of the national parliament. According to the Crimea information portal, the Tatars, who make up 12 percent of the population of Crimea, occupied seven seats in the 100-member Crimean Parliament. Eight of the 25 senior officials in the Crimean government were Tatars, including one deputy prime minister and the minister for labor and social policy, as were two of the 14 heads of raion (county-level) administrations in Crimea. Crimean Tatars remained underrepresented in city councils and city administrations. For example, none of the deputies to the mayor of Simferopol was a Crimean Tatar. The Crimean Tatar representative body, the Mejlis, was not legally recognized by national authorities.
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