During the First Kurultai, from left to right: Seitjelil Khattatov, Asan-Sabri Aivazov, Noman Celebidjihan, Jafer Seydamet. Bakhchisarai, 1917
During the First Kurultai, from left to right: Seitjelil Khattatov, Asan-Sabri Aivazov, Noman Celebidjihan, Jafer Seydamet. Bakhchisarai, 1917

The position of the Crimean Tatars on the future of Crimea


On May 8, the Kurultai resumed its activities in Simferopol, which was recognized by the Germans as the supreme authority of the Crimea. Its first meeting took place on May 10 in the presence of General Kosh and Sulkevich. Asana-Sabri Aivazov was elected the head of the Kurultai. In his introductory speech, he noted: “ Bolshevism in Crimea has dealt a severe blow not only to our culture and political life, it has devastated the lives of other nationalities, sowed the seeds of national enmity that are completely unnecessary and harmful to all parties. As a result of the memorable three-month rampage of unbridled Bolshevism, our people have suffered extremely great losses . ”

During the First Kurultai, from left to right: Seitjelil Khattatov, Asan-Sabri Aivazov, Noman Celebidjihan, Jafer Seydamet. Bakhchisarai, 1917
During the First Kurultai, from left to right: Seitjelil Khattatov, Asan-Sabri Aivazov, Noman Celebidjihan, Jafer Seydamet. Bakhchisarai, 1917

Aivazov spoke about the results of negotiations held by the Provisional Bureau with the German command, noting that “the German people have no intention of interfering with the revival of the Tatar people.”

The chairman further called on everyone to make great efforts to create the necessary conditions for uniting representatives of various nations, political parties and organizations that existed in the Crimea to resolve the issue of the future fate of the peninsula. By the way, Aivazov said: “The historical and ethnographic law of the Crimean Tatar people, its one-and-a-half-century slavery and the numerous sacrifices it suffered during the three-year war and the 14-month revolution give it the right to take the initiative in organizing power in Crimea. But now we are willing and sincere to share this right with all other peoples of Crimea and will not use it to the detriment of other peoples. As it has been so far, so it will continue, we must pursue a policy based on justice. From this point of view, we must recognize the right of all nationalities to participate in the management of the region. Only under this condition can a government be formed that will be free to defend the interests of all sections of the population without distinction of nationalities. We deeply believe that with such a policy it will be impossible to repeat the nightmare and there will be full prosperity of our native Crimea.».
A. Ozenbashli expressed the opinion that “the current Tatar parliament should be transformed into a national legislative institution with the inclusion of representatives of other nationalities inhabiting Crimea .”

Following discussion it was agreed draft of the future organization of power in the Crimea, which involved combining all existing political forces, ” Now living in Crimea imposes the following tasks on our deep conviction should be solved initiative Tatar parliament:
1) Crimean Constituent Assembly basics of universal, direct, secret and equal voting.
2) Parliament should take the initiative to convene this high institution as soon as possible, for which it should elect a commission, giving it the right to invite representatives from various political parties and social groups to its composition to draft regulations on elections.
3) Creation of a temporary regional government with the participation of representatives from other nationalities and public organizations.
4) Until the convening of the Crimean Constituent Assembly, the temporary regional government is accountable to the Tatar parliament . ”

On May 10, an editorial in the Crimean Tatar newspaper Krym published an appeal to the region’s population stating: ” We believe that the future Crimean Republic should express the will and interests of the majority of the population. The lessons of Bolshevism must teach us that a state cannot be built on the dictatorship of any group of the population. The state must protect the interests of all classes, all peoples inhabiting the Crimea. Our future Republic must lead our land to progress culturally, politically and socially, and be a good oasis . ”

However, the initiative of the Tatar Kurultay was not supported by other political forces in Crimea. At a meeting of the City Council on May 11 adopted a resolution which, on the one hand, supported the need to convene the Crimean Constituent Assembly but on the other hand, noted: ” Prior to the Crimean constituent assembly only provincial, municipal governments may express the will of the population, and no national organizations should not consider themselves able to speak on behalf of the entire population. Because of this, it is absolutely necessary to convene a congress of representatives of the zemstvo and city self-government of Crimea to form an interim government . ”

It should be noted that this resolution was directed both against the spontaneous actions of the Tatars and against the German command, which forbade the convening of the General Crimean Congress of Representatives of Cities and Zemstvos.

Asan-Sabri Aivazov
Asan-Sabri Aivazov

On May 11, D. Seydamet returned to the Crimea on the Turkish warship Sakiz. At first he tried to return the orientation of the representatives of the Tatar revolutionary movement towards the Ottoman Empire. Especially since a group of officers arrived on the peninsula with him. Seydamet later said that before arriving in the Crimea, he met with a representative of the Young Turk party, Enver Pasha, with whom he had a conversation about further action. ” Enver Pasha ‘s first objection,” Seydamet said, “was that we wanted to assert our power only in the Crimea. He also thought about the whole Tavriya province . ”

After arriving in Simferopol, D. Seidamet came to a meeting of the Kurultai, where he delivered an ardent speech. He praised in every way the “revolutionary movement of the Young Turks” and conveyed to the Kurultai a “fraternal greeting” from the representatives of the Tatar political elite. According to the recollections of the participant of those events A.-S. Aivazova, then Seidamet said: ” There is no more tsarist Russia. Russia and its allies are defeated. The Bolsheviks were also defeated. Neither Kerenschina nor the Bolsheviks could pass the political test. States that have lost their independence and that have fallen into the clutches of tsarist Russia will certainly move away from it and develop. It goes without saying that Crimea should also become independent… Now we have to raise this issue ourselves. I assure you that we, the Crimean people, will be supported in this respect by Turkey, its allies and other states.». Every time Seydamet spoke in a positive tone about the Ottoman Empire and that it would definitely support the Crimean Tatars in their quest to restore their own state, loud applause was heard in the hall by members of the Kurultai.

The German military leadership, as noted earlier, did not want to give the Allies a chance to gain influence in the events in Crimea. On the same day, Jaffar Seydamet was arrested and taken to the German headquarters, where he was interviewed as to who exactly should support the Crimean Tatars. After the conversation, Seydamet was taken to the European Hotel, where he spent almost a week under house arrest. Only after an active request from the Kurultay did the German leadership release Seydamet.

Amet Ozenbashli
Amet Ozenbashli

These events affected Seydamet’s plans. He changed his anti-Turkish orientation to pro-German. On May 16, speaking at a meeting of the Kurultai, Seidamet sang a hosanna to the German Kaiser: “ There is only one great person who represents Germany, the great genius of the German people. This genius, who embraces all the high German culture that raised it to infinite heights, is none other than the head of Greater Germany, Emperor Wilhelm, the creator of majestic strength and power. At the same time, this genius has never been the enemy of law and justice. Germany’s interests not only do not contradict, but, apparently, even coincide with the interests of an independent Crimea . ”

At the evening meeting, Seydamet continued his keynote speech. Speaking about what kind of policy the Crimean Tatars should pursue in the future and what kind of country they should focus on, he stressed: “I am not a supporter of secret diplomacy. Therefore, when asked about our orientation, speaking in even clearer language, whether we should be with Turkey or another state when it comes to the fate of Crimea, I must say that although religion, nationality and language unite us with Turks, we can wish Turkey with our own feelings. happiness and prosperity. But at the same time we have reached a period of our political activity when the mind can prevail over the feelings, when we cannot forget our own happiness… So we need to focus on a state that is able to promote our culture and economic growth, to help us in the management, to protect and defend the independence of Crimea at the forthcoming conference. Only Germany can be such a state. Hence, our orientation can only be German . ”

Considering the figure of Seydamet, who in 1917 proved to be more than bright, able to unite around him as many political forces of the peninsula, the German command finally settled on him as the future head of government. Because of this, General Kosh addressed a letter to Seydamet with the following content: “Jaffar Seydamet-effendi. German troops entered the borders of Crimea in order to restore order, peace and give the Crimean population the freedom to determine their own destiny. The Tatar people were the first to turn to the German command with a project to create a regional government; Considering that you will stand guard over the well-being and happiness of all the peoples of Crimea, I entrust you with the organization of a cabinet that will create an all-Crimean parliament. The German command will unconditionally support the organized government in restoring order and peace . ”

Jaffer Seydamet
Jaffer Seydamet

On May 18, at a meeting of the Kurultay, a decision was made to restore an independent state on the peninsula:
“1. The Crimean Tatar parliament declares itself the interim Crimean state parliament and takes the initiative to organize the regional government and the regional government.
Note: The commission will inform the parliament no later than five days as to on what basis the parliament will be replenished with representatives from other nationalities.
2. After the establishment of the regional parliament and in cases of discussion of national Tatar affairs in it with the participation of only Tatar members, it is considered as a Tatar parliament.
3. The Tatar parliament submits the issue of convening the Crimean Constituent Assembly to the All-Crimean Parliament for resolution.
4. The Crimean government is formed on a coalition basis with the participation of nationalities, which constitutes an important unit in quantitative and socio-economic terms.
5. The head of government (prime minister) is elected by the Tatar parliament and the cabinet (council of ministers) created by him receives a sanction from the parliament in the form of trust in him.
6. Prior to the establishment of the All-Crimean Parliament, the government is accountable to the Tatar Parliament.
7. The official languages ​​of the newly formed government are Tatar and Russian.
8. The blue flag is recognized as the state flag until the final resolution of this issue by the Crimean Constituent Assembly.
9. The government consists of a prime minister and eight ministers.
10. The ministries are as follows: 1) the Ministry of the Interior, 2) the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3) the Ministry of War, 4) the Ministry of Railways, Post and Telegraph, 5) the Ministry of Education, 6 ) the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, 7) the Ministry of Finance and State Control and 8) the Ministry of Justice. ”
At this meeting, Jaffer Seydamet was unanimously elected Prime Minister.

These efforts met with resistance from non-Tatar parties and movements. The next day, the question of power was discussed at a meeting of zemstvo and city vowels, landowners and merchants of Simferopol. The meeting adopted a memorandum, the content of which did not coincide with what was announced in the version proposed by the Kurultay.

The memorandum required: the establishment of “firm, calm, judicial power”, “the earliest establishment of the proper functioning of provincial and zemstvo institutions on the basis of strict observance of the provisions and laws in force before the revolution”, “freedom of trade and crafts”, “inviolability of property”. In addition, the zemstvos demanded 5 of the 9 seats appointed in the future government.

Robert Kosch, 1915
Robert Kosch, 1915

The cadets took a different position. According to V. Obolensky’s memoirs, the majority of Crimean cadets did not agree with the Tatars on three very important issues from their point of view. First, they believed that Crimea was not an independent state, but only part of Russia. Secondly, the Crimean government must renounce diplomatic relations with foreign states (especially with Germany and the Ottoman Empire) and personal armed forces. The third important issue in which the Cadets were uncompromising is that the government can be headed only by a person on whose behalf a joint agreement will be reached with the Kurultay, but it must be someone other than D. Seidamet. “The emerging government,” V. Obolensky noted, “should consider itself in power only until the overthrow of the Bolsheviks and the creation of an all-Russian government.”All his concerns should be aimed at creating order and internal improvement of the region. ”

On May 21, members of the Provisional Bureau met with representatives of other parties and movements at the Kurultay. Negotiations ended unsuccessfully for members of the Kurultay. The figure of Seydamet did not suit the Cadets at all. Representatives of the provincial zemstvo assembly also agreed with their arguments.

On May 22, a delegation from the Simferopol City Duma visited General Kosh and handed him the memorandum adopted during a meeting of Zemstvo and city vowels, landowners and merchants of Simferopol.

On May 26, the Crimean Tatar newspaper Krym opposed local governments. The article noted that local self-government is not authorized to resolve Crimean affairs, because it was elected not by Crimean residents, but by holidaymakers, soldiers and other “non-Crimeans.” The Octobrists also opposed local self-government and, together with the Tatars, began to demand a qualifying re-election of city dumas and zemstvo assemblies.

D. Seidamet’s ambitious attempts to head the government cabinet failed. Along with it, the plans of the German command to create a national government in Crimea, headed by Seydamet, failed. After all, the German headquarters was soon able to see that Seydamet enjoyed the support of only the party of Millie Firk, and had no influence on the rest of the population of the peninsula.

Vladimir Obolensky
Vladimir Obolensky

Influential figure of the Cadet Party D. Pasmanik summed up the results of these “political maneuvers” in the pages of his newspaper “Yalta Voice”: “The esteemed J. Seidamet delivered a landmark speech at the Kurultai; moreover, he expanded his own program, different from the one he had defended a few months ago, when he demanded a resolute struggle against imperialism in all its manifestations. Meanwhile, Crimea is not facing a very acute issue of “orientation” at the moment. This is not a Crimean issue at all. … We consider all disputes over the Crimean orientation to be pure decoration. Crimea needs organizational, not diplomatic, work. We are sure that the coming days will show the validity of our doubts that you (members of the Kurultay, – author) did not learn to appreciate true freedom, equal for all, and under the influence of your foolish leaders you became obsessed with greed for power, you were taught not to need brotherhood. and go to domination, dictatorship .

Jaffer Seydamet, 1950s
Jaffer Seydamet, 1950s

Wanting to speed up the establishment of a regional authority in Crimea, on June 1, General Kosh addressed D. Seydamet as the Prime Minister of the new government with an official address, which openly emphasized: “The situation of the region needs the newly formed government to take would be in control of the region. Because of this, it is desirable to immediately form a cabinet . ”

In early June, another attempt was made in Simferopol to form a coalition government. Negotiations between representatives of the Kurultay and the Cadets took place at the apartment of the Octobrist V. Nalbandov. After lengthy negotiations, an approximate composition of the government was approved. From the Crimean Tatars there were to enter D. Ablaev (Prime Minister), D. Seidamet, S. Sulkevich. From the Germans – V. Nalbandov, T. Rapp or Cadet Schroeder or Count V. Tatishchev. From the cadets – S. Crimea, V. Keller (German), V. Nabokov or V. Obolensky.
However, this attempt remained impossible. The Cadets could not agree to the independence of Crimea, its separation from Russia and orientation to the countries of the Quaternary Union. The Tatars, in turn, primarily in the person of Seydamet, also did not intend to surrender their positions. So without agreeing on anything, on June 5 Kurultai went on vacation.

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Tetiana Bikova

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Scientist of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: