Рибна промисловість у Керчі, початок 1950 років. Фото надано автором.

Kremlin architects of the “originally Russian” Crimea


Back in the first years of Ukraine’s independence, researching on my own initiative the resettlement of the Ukrainian population to Crimea after the transfer of the region from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, I had to work for a long time, in addition to the archives, in the republican statistics office. I had the opportunity to look through the rough manuscripts of the last Soviet population census, which was conducted in 1989 not only in large Crimean cities and district centers, but also in all Crimean settlements and small villages. A huge array of good statistical material made it possible to make an ethnic cross-section of the population in each Crimean settlement.

The data of this census and the rather large indicators of the number of the Russian population in most settlements convincingly prove that the so-called spontaneous migration processes and the ethnic composition of the population in strategically important regions for the tsarist and Soviet empires were always deliberately directed and meticulously controlled by the relevant structures.

What did the data of the last Soviet census in Crimea show? As of 1989, the highest percentage of the Russian population was recorded in Feodosia (77.6%), Sevastopol (74.4%), Alushta (71.5%), Simferopol (71.3%), Yevpatoria (70.3% ), Sakakh (68.4%), Yalta (68.8%), Dzhankoi (65.7%). Slightly lower indicators of Russianness of residents were recorded in such cities as Dzhankoy (65.7%), Krasnoperekopsk (58.3%) and Kerch (56%).

A fairly high percentage of the Russian population was found in Sudatsky (72.8%), Bakhchisarai (67.8%), Kirovsky (63.8%), Sovietsky (60.9%), Nizhnyohirsky (59.5%), Krasnogvardiysky (56 %) and Saksky (52.8%) districts.

Only in four steppe districts (Krasnoperekopsky, Rozdollensky, Pervomaysky and Dzhankoysky) the number of Russian population in rural areas did not reach 50% and varied between 35.7-47.9%. The smallest number of Russians lived in the villages of Krasnoperekopsky and Jaikoi districts.

There is no doubt that the Soviet statists added several hundred thousand (at least 300) Russianized ethnic Ukrainians to the Russians. Despite all these communist speculations, official statistics on the eve of the declaration of Ukraine’s independence recorded the presence of more than 625 thousand Ukrainians in Crimea. Therefore, our statement that almost 1 million Ukrainians lived on the territory of the peninsula after the completion of the planned resettlement of the population from Ukraine is not an exaggeration.

The fact that even in most Crimean cities and regional centers more than 50% of the population spoke their native language testifies to the degree of convergence of Ukrainian citizens resettled from mainland Ukraine in Crimea. Of them: almost 67% are residents of Krasnoperekopsk, 51% – Kerch and Yalta, 54.4% – Alushta and almost 50% – the city of Saka. In 1989, slightly lower rates of native language proficiency were recorded in Simferopol – 38.5%, in Sevastopol – 39.6%. The absence of Ukrainian-language schools, the reluctance of the communist Russifiers to create them is convincing evidence of the purposeful genocide of Ukrainians in Crimea. During the 25 years of Ukraine’s independence, the unpatriotic non-Ukrainian central government did not even try to significantly change the situation.

The occupation of Crimea by the so-called “fraternal people” in February 2014 is a consequence of this inaction and cowardice of Kyiv’s high-ranking officials. After all, even regional Crimean statistical data lead every thinking person to the opinion that the dominance of the Russian population in all populated areas of Crimea, from large cities to small villages, is not an accident. Such an ethno-national picture was created by the Kremlin’s wits (and not only in the Crimea) not for one year, but for several centuries. It is well known that already in the first years of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire, the military-civilian administration, created from the entourage closest to Catherine II, in an attempt to significantly change the ethnic face of the former Crimean Khanate, pushed the Crimean Tatars to emigrate. Before that, the tsarist satrap Oleksandr Suvorov forcibly evicted the trade and industrial elite of the former Crimean Khanate – Greeks and Armenians. Their estates and property, of course, ended up in the hands of eager inquisitors.

Crimean history has recorded several waves of mass emigration of Crimean Tatars: starting in 1788, it continued during the Russian-French war of 1812 and gained large volumes during the years of the Russian-English war of 1854-1856. Mass emigration of Crimean Tatars depopulated Crimea and significantly changed the ethno-national face of the peninsula. Famines and the development of industry in Crimean cities played an equally important role in the depopulation of Crimea.

The invaders forced the Crimean Tatars from their hereditary lands and ancestral estates with all kinds of oppression, both administrative and religious. At the same time, the occupiers, seizing the lands of the previous Crimean Tatar landowners, massively brought their serf peasants from the deep provinces of Russia to Crimea. The retention of retired soldiers and sailors in Crimea was also strongly encouraged. There is also information that the occupiers imported whole hordes of girls from mainland Russia and some provinces of Ukraine so that former Crimean soldiers could start families. This is how many Russian villages arose at the end of the 18th century, in particular, the large village of Mazanka in the Simferopol district.

The numerical dominance of the Russian population over the Crimean Tatars also ensured the mass gathering of the Ukrainian people in Crimea, whose specific weight on the peninsula has always been high. The true numbers of ethnic Russians in many statistical materials were hidden behind such definitions as “Orthodox or Slavs.”

The pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary population censuses, which were conducted in Tavria province and Crimea, tried to single out Ukrainians as a separate national community, including them and Belarusians among the Slavs. The population census conducted in Crimea in 1926 showed that extras specially trained by the authorities and the Chekists carried out active propaganda work among the Ukrainian population (especially in rural areas) so that they would recognize themselves as Russians. Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of the Ukrainian population in the Crimea, both according to the censuses of 1926 and 1939, decreased sharply. In most districts, the specific weight of Ukrainians in 1939 varied between 6-17%. But even fairly tendentious censuses (such were the population censuses of 1926 and 1939) could not hide the presence of a large number of Ukrainians in a number of rural districts: Krasnogvardiyskyi – 32%, Karasubazarskyi – 15.0%, Ak-Sheikhskyi – 16.3% , Biyuk-Ondarskyi – 17.8%, Leninskyi – 19.4%.

After the criminal deportation of Crimean Tatars, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians and Germans by Stalin and Beria, ideal conditions for fundamental ethnic rotation were created in Crimea. Not only all Russian emperors, but also communist leaders dreamed of her. Those who think that the post-war population of Crimea happened spontaneously and chaotically are deeply mistaken. The process of resettlement of planned immigrants was under the close control of central and local party bodies and Enkavedists. We have already written about the existence of open resolutions of union and republican party and economic bodies. However, there are still many documents hidden from the domestic and international community and researchers.

Recently, the well-known Moscow-Crimean researcher Ibraim Voennyi made public the secret Decree of the State Defense Committee of the USSR No. DKO – 6372c of August 12, 1944. According to her, almost two months after the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, the State Defense Committee of the still warring country decided to forcibly resettle 51 thousand collective farm workers from several regions of Russia (from the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions, Rostov, Voronezh, Kursk, Oryol, Tambov and Bryansk regions) to the depopulated Crimea ). From the “sovereign Ukrainian SSR”, the State Committee of Defense obliged the Kyiv governors to resettle 9,000 people to Crimea.

Attention is drawn to the fact that the Kremlin builders of “Russian Crimea” are giving the Alushtyn, Yaltyn, Sudatsky, Balaklavsky, Bakhchysarai, Karasubazarsky districts, which are most inhabited and organized by the Crimean Tatars and other deported peoples, to the Russian immigrants. There was decent housing with orderly estates and agricultural property. The natural, climatic and social conditions were somewhat more difficult in the Kuibyshev district, where people from Ukraine (9,000 people) were resettled.

During the first wave of resettlement to Crimea, as the document shows, the Kremlin architects of “Russian Crimea” did not resettle a single Russian to the steppe regions. The Kremlin leaders and their Kyiv (Masor Russian) governors kept waterless, sparsely populated and disorderly areas for the Ukrainian population. The mass settlement of steppe areas by immigrants from Ukraine began already after the transfer of the Crimean region from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. It should be noted that these immigrants no longer had the huge benefits and state support that were given to the first wave of immigrants from Russia.

As can be seen from this resolution, collective farm workers who moved from Russian regions were given huge benefits, both at the place of their previous residence and at the collective farms created in Crimea. Thus, at that time, each collective farm worker and specialist of the first wave of resettlement was allocated a large sum of 2,500 rubles per family by the state. Debts from taxes, insurance payments, and mandatory surrender of agricultural products were written off from these collective farm workers.

For those who were included in the list of displaced persons, the right to harvest from homesteads was preserved, and the right was granted to hand over grain to local harvesting organizations under a state guarantee of receiving an equivalent volume of products in Crimea. During 1944-1945, the farms of all collective farmers who were resettled in the Crimea were exempted from paying all state taxes on agricultural products. The emigrants were allowed to take with them inventory and livestock that were in personal use, and take other household property with a total weight of up to 2,000 kg. We will remind that each deported family of Crimean Tatars in May of the same year 1944 had the right to take with them only 15 kg of household goods. All expenses for the first immigrants from Russia were borne by the state (the cost of travel, transportation of livestock and personal property). The emigrants were provided with free medical care from the time they left until they settled in a new place.

The Defense Committee obliged the People’s Commissariat to hand over 2 quintals of food grain for each family to the first wave of resettled collective farm farmers at the new place of settlement. In addition, the resolution provided for the allocation of five-year loans in the amount of 5,000 rubles by the Union Agricultural Bank to those in need. In addition, the People’s Commissariat of the Meat and Dairy Industry and Procurement obliged within a month to issue to the resettled collective farm farmers at the place of settlement products and livestock of equivalent quantity and quality in exchange for those that they handed over to the state authorities at the place of their previous residence. For those who did not have livestock in their personal farms, the Union People’s Commissariat of the Meat and Dairy Industry had to sell one cow and one heifer at the state procurement prices.

The Union Soviet People’s Committee spared no expense for the first wave of Russian immigrants. The Defense Committee of the People’s Commissariat of the USSR allocated 55 million rubles from the reserve fund. Moreover, the government provided the lion’s share (43 million rubles) for a one-time payment to the displaced persons. The immigrants from Russia received 35 million rubles, while the Council of People’s Committee of Ukraine allocated only 8 million rubles for this purpose.

At a time when the population of the territories of Ukraine and Belarus occupied by the German-fascist invaders, through which the war raged twice, suffered from financial hardship, and mothers could not buy clothes for their children even in exchange for food, the Defense Committee obliged the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade to allocate for the first wave of immigrants from Russia, 30,000 pairs of underwear, clothes and shoes from American humanitarian aid. It turns out that the Union received generous foreign gifts from abroad throughout the war. Has anyone seen them from the inhabitants of the territories liberated from the invaders?

Consistently continuing the traditions of imperial ethnopolitics, started by the first conquerors of the Crimea, the Kremlin leaders began in August 1944 to fundamentally change the ethnic situation on the peninsula. It was the massive post-war resettlement of the population from the Russian hinterland that ensured the dominance of only one ethnic group in Crimea – the Russians. The pre-war linguistic and ethnic diversity changed to Russian monotony and facelessness. What the tsarist empire did not achieve for several centuries, the Stalinist criminal group, using state and repressive levers, managed to do in only ten post-war years. The Kremlin was well aware that by transferring the region to Ukraine in 1954 due to economic troubles, Crimea with its dominant Russian population would remain Russian and would always be under the Kremlin’s watchful eye. And Crimea, rebuilt by the hands of Ukrainians, can be taken away at the right moment. The occupation of the peninsula by Russian troops and the latest annexation by Russia in February 2014 confirmed this.


Consistently continuing the traditions of imperial ethnopolitics, started by the first conquerors of the Crimea, the Kremlin leaders began in August 1944 to fundamentally change the ethnic situation on the peninsula. It was the massive post-war resettlement of the population from the Russian hinterland that ensured the dominance of only one ethnic group in Crimea – the Russians. The pre-war linguistic and ethnic diversity changed to Russian monotony and facelessness…


Implemented within the project “Information Platform” Voice of Crimea. Culture “- about Crimea honestly, qualitatively, actually” with the support of the Media Development Fund of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the US government.

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