The status of Crimea in the vision of the Crimean Tatar politicum: from autonomy to an independent state (1917-1920)

The status of Crimea in the vision of the Crimean Tatar politicum: from autonomy to an independent state (1917-1920)


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In 1917, the Crimean Tatar national movement, led by young leaders, acquired new organizational qualities and scale, which gives grounds to speak even of the Crimean Tatar revolution. Already in April, the All-Crimean Muslim Congress effectively eliminated the pre-revolutionary structures of the government of the Muslim community, but for the first time in the post-imperial space democratically elected the Mufti of the Muslims of Crimea N. Chelebidzhikhan, appointed a commissioner to the Waqf Commission D. Seidamet. Musvikonkom). The latter body soon took over not only religious but also educational, economic, political, military and other affairs of the Crimean Tatar people. During the spring and summer of 1917 a system of self-government bodies was formed in the form of local, county Muslim committees headed by TimKMVK. Crimean Tatar women ‘s and youth movements were actively developing, and the Tatar Party emerged (in our opinion, in 1918–1920 it became Milli Firk).

In the spring – beginning In the summer of 1917, Crimean Tatar leaders spoke of national and cultural autonomy for their people, which had already been largely implemented in practice, and, in particular, the Provisional Government officially recognized the Musvykonkom. Last spring, he did not publicly call for Crimea to be granted autonomous status. At the same time, in April 1917, the USDRP Robitnycha Gazeta wrote about the formation of the “People’s Tatar Party, which demands the autonomy of the Crimea.” In May 1917, the Musvykonkom sent a representative Crimean Tatar delegation to the All-Russian Muslim Congress in Moscow. She supported the latter in the discussion between the “Unitarians”, who sought to create a general Muslim national and cultural autonomy in federal Russia, and the “Federalists”. The Federalists were supporters of the formation of national-territorial autonomies of Muslim peoples,but also allowed the existence of national and cultural autonomies for peoples who did not constitute a majority in the region or lived in the diaspora.

On July 22 (August 4), 1917, in the first issue of the Russian-language newspaper TimKMVK, the newspaper “Voice of Crimea” published the “Political Program of Tatar Democracy.” This document seems to reflect the position of the Musico-Executive Committee or, at the very least, the dominant group. In addition to general democratic, national and socialist principles, the program also addressed the need to seek the establishment of a federal democratic republic at the Constituent Assembly. It was also said that the Tatar people “in union with other nationalities living in the Crimea, does not require political autonomy, but will not allow to establish in the Crimea political hegemony of a people, a people that has no cultural, historical or ethnographic rights to such “. The Tatar people, the program said, “demand national and cultural autonomy. ”

The first program of the Tatar Party, presumably dated July 1917, also referred to “the formation of a democratic republic on a national-federal basis,” but the desired status of Crimea was not defined.

One of the Crimean Tatar leaders of 1917–1920, AS Aivazov, wrote in a memoir written in a prison hospital in the USSR that the leaders of the Tatar Party (Millie Firka) and the Music Executive Committee in 1917 also allegedly had a secret program . According to him, it provided for the restoration of Crimea’s independence, under the protectorate of Europe’s great powers. To do this, the Music Executive Committee allegedly considered it necessary:

  • to increase the number of Turko-Tatar population in Crimea to 600,000, by relocating 200,000 Tatars from the central and northern provinces to Crimea, returning 70,000 emigrants from Romania, and attracting 35,000 “former Crimean Tatars” from Poland and Lithuania.
  • to conclude an alliance with Ukraine, Poland and “other federalist countries.”
  • conclude an agreement with all nationalist organizations and keep in touch with them.

Plans for such a large-scale migration of the Turkic population and the achievement of the independence of Crimea under the protectorate of European states do not look very realistic in 1917. The punitive system of the USSR could have influenced the appearance of this version in A Aivazov’s memoirs. Under pressure, prisoners in Soviet prisons were often forced to give false testimony. However, the existence of such opinions cannot be completely ruled out, because revolutions always raise a wave of inflated expectations, and their leaders often pay tribute to utopian ideas. If such plans were discussed, it was in a close circle of TimKMVK leaders. These ideas were not known to the masses, and the national self-government bodies operated under somewhat different slogans.

The proclamation in June 1917 in the First Universal of the UCR of the autonomy of Ukraine put on the agenda the question of the status of Crimea. In the summer of 1917, contacts began between the UCR and the TimKMVK, and partnerships were established based on the desire to restructure the post-imperial space into a democratic federal Russian republic.

An important role in determining the further strategy and tactics of the Crimean Tatar self-government bodies was played by the Congress of Peoples-Federalists, convened by the UCR in Kyiv in September 1917. A representative Crimean Tatar delegation took an active part in this forum . All-Russian, advocated a federation based on the national principle, recognized national and personal autonomy for national minorities and small nations. In addition, according to the memoirs of D. Seidamet, an agreement was reached with the leadership of the UCR that Crimea will not be part of an autonomous Ukraine [5] .

Immediately after the congress in the Crimea, preparations began for the convening of the national constituent assembly of the Crimean Tatar people – the Kurultai. By the way, for the first time the publicly symbolic word “Kurultai” seems to have been used by the leaders of the Crimean Tatar revolution in connection with the Congress of Peoples. After discussing the Central Council’s invitation to this forum, the Musvykonkom “decided to respond to the telegram on behalf of the Crimean Tatars not as an ordinary committee, but as a deputy of the Crimean Tatar Kurultai (Sejm) government,” N. Chelebidzhikhan said in October 1917.

The Executive Committee condemned the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd and on November 3-4 (16-17) “not wanting to allow the hegemony of one nation over another” and “not allowing the idea of ​​the spread of power of any state over Crimea” proclaimed in a special appeal the program slogan “Crimea for Crimean “, ie in the sense of the time for the Crimean people of any ethnic origin (today the term” Crimean “is understood, as a rule, Crimean Tatars). The document stressed that “extraordinary circumstances dictate the need for the peoples of Crimea to take care of the fate of their land,” and this task can be solved “only by the collective opinion and will of all nationalities living in Crimea.”

On November 3 (16), 1917, in Bakhchisarai, at the opening of the first Crimean Tatar historical and cultural museum in the Khan’s Palace, a program speech was given by N. Chelebidzhikhan, in which he said: “ There are many flowers, different colors and aromas in Crimea. These flowers are the nations that live in Crimea: Crimean Tatars, Russians, Jews, Greeks, Germans and others. The task of the Kurultay is to unite everyone and, making one wonderful bouquet of them, turn Crimea into a cultural Switzerland. The National Kurultai will take care not only of Muslims but also of other nations, it invites them to cooperate and will move at the same pace with them. Our nation is only the initiator in this matter . ”

The project of “Crimean Switzerland” as an independent state was promoted before the revolution by the underground organization “Nejati” (1898-1907), founded by one of the first Crimean Tatar revolutionaries Asan Nuri Effendi. But at the end of 1917, the idea of ​​”Crimean Switzerland”, at least in the public sphere, had a different meaning. According to the plans of the Crimean Tatar revolutionaries, a national Crimean Tatar constituent assembly was to take place in Crimea, which was to form bodies of national and personal autonomy and reveal the will of the indigenous people to organize the Crimea, and later an all -Crimean constituent assembly to complete self-determination. TimKMVK was one of the few socio-political forces in the Crimea,which welcomed in November 1917 the formation of the UPR and the division of the territory of the Tavriya province into northern – Wener and Crimean parts.It was the Crimean Tatar revolutionaries in the temporary body of power in the region – the Council of People’s Representatives of the Tavriya Province, formed at the beginning. December 1917, at a congress of representatives of local governments, councils, trade unions, and national organizations of the Crimea and Northern Tavria, put forward the idea of ​​convening the Crimean Constituent Assembly. She was supported. It was planned that the Crimean constituent would gather in February 1918.

From November 26 to December 13 (December 9-26), 1917, the Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar people worked as a constituent assembly. On the last day of his work, the Crimean Tatar Basic Laws were adopted, the highest bodies of national and personal autonomy were formed – the Directory (Crimean Tatar National Government headed by N. Chelebidzhikhan) and the Kurultai (the constituent assembly was announced for a year by the national parliament). In the national constitution, which combined the achievements of European constitutionalism with elements of Sharia and customary law – Adat, in Art. 16 was proclaimed the Crimean Democratic Republic. However, in Art. Article 12 stated that “the question of the form of government in the region can be resolved only by the regional Constituent Assembly,”so the Crimean Tatar parliament had to take measures to convene the Crimean constituent as soon as possible. So, It seems that according to the creators of the national constitution, the proclaimed CDR was to be formed by the All-Crimean Constituent Assembly.

The coalition of the Council of People’s Representatives of the Tavriya Province and the Crimean Tatar self-government bodies, which had joint armed forces, sought to convene the latter. However, the democratic forces of Tavria were hindered by left-wing radicals led by the Bolsheviks, who were not supported by the majority of Crimeans, but by force, primarily with the help of ships and sailors of the Black Sea Fleet, in January 1918 established control over Crimea. At the same time, they dissolved the ANP and the Kurultai. In February 1918, N. Chelebidzhikhan was shot.

In April 1918, the Bolshevik-Left Socialist regime in Crimea fell as a result of an offensive by German and UPR troops, as well as the Crimean Tatar uprising. Germany became the master of the situation due to the superiority of its occupying forces, but its state, military and naval leadership did not have unity regarding the future of Crimea. Various plans were put forward, but the military representatives of the Reich did not introduce direct military rule over the occupied territory, but initially gave the opportunity to form a regional government to the Crimean Tatar self-government bodies, which resumed their activities. This was probably done without the consent of the Foreign Ministry, because on May 2, 1918, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Germany R. Kuhlmann addressed the first Quartermaster E.Ludendorff demanded to refrain from supporting the Crimean Tatar republic, as “this new state formation, given the inevitable complications of its relations with Russia and Ukraine, will require our assistance.” On May 18, 1918, the deputies of the Kurultay decided to declare the Crimean Tatar parliament temporarily the Crimean state parliament, as well as to take the initiative to organize the regional government and the regional government. The latter was to answer to the Tatar parliament, the state languages ​​were to be Tatar and Russian, and the state flag was to be the blue flag. It was planned that the Kurultai would be replenished with representatives of other ethnic communities in Crimea. D. Seidamet was elected Prime Minister. At that time,the Kurultai set a course for the independence of Crimea with a de facto focus on Germany and Turkey.The name of the state formation created in the national constitution – the Crimean Democratic Republic – was not heard, because the German and Ottoman empires were monarchies. But this time, too, the CDR project, now with an independent status, was not implemented. D. Seydamet failed to form a regional government in partnership with German and Russian political forces in Crimea, primarily due to opposition from the pro-Russian part of the Zemstvo, Russian Socialists and Liberals (Cadets)

In June 1918, military representatives of the occupation administration instructed the formation of the Crimean regional government to the ex-commander of the First Muslim Corps, Lieutenant General S. Sulkevich. He designed a cabinet of representatives of the Crimean Tatars, Russians and Germans of the Crimea. The Crimean regional government has set a course for the formation of a sovereign state formation with a relatively mild authoritarian regime and a market economy. He, in particular, declared his intention to preserve the independence of the peninsula until its international situation is clarified and law and order is restored. The existence of such a cabinet without internationally recognized status was beneficial to Germany, as it simplified the maintenance of order in the occupied territories,but allowed to play different combinations with Crimea in the event of new opportunities or threats.

There were two political camps in S. Sulkevych’s own government: supporters of the course of Crimea’s independence and adherents of the temporary preservation of the region’s independence under occupation and World War until its return to renewed Russia. The former included the Crimean Tatar part of the government, headed by Foreign Minister D. Seidamet and probably the prime minister. This group cherished a secret plan to create an independent neutral Crimean Khanate under the protectorate of Germany and Turkey. Probably, its initiator was D. Seidamet. In the summer of 1918, a delegation of the Sulkevich government consisting of Seydamet and Minister of Finance V. Tatishchev was sent to Berlin with the official aim of gaining recognition of the government and receiving financial assistance.The Reich authorities de facto refused to do so (small funds were promised). In addition, D. Seidamet in August Berlin, secretly from a colleague in the delegation and without a decision of the Kurultay, signed by the head of the Crimean Tatar national government A. Hilmi, the head of the Kurultay AS Aivazov and probably the secretary of the Kurultay S. Tarakchi a written proposal to the German authorities to create such a khanate to release domination and political influence of the Russians. He also brought an appeal from the Central Directorate of German Communications, signed by P. Stoll, A. Ya. Neff and E. Steinwald, in which on behalf of the Crimean Germans expressed solidarity with the Tatars regarding the separation of Crimea from Great Russia and Ukraine and the formation of a “separate state units”.Tarakchi made a written proposal to the German authorities to create such a khanate to free them from Russian domination and political influence. He also brought an appeal from the Central Directorate of German Communications, signed by P. Stoll, A. Ya. Neff and E. Steinwald, in which on behalf of the Crimean Germans expressed solidarity with the Tatars regarding the separation of Crimea from Great Russia and Ukraine and the formation of a “separate state units” .Tarakchi made a written proposal to the German authorities to create such a khanate to free them from Russian domination and political influence. He also brought an appeal from the Central Directorate of German Communications, signed by P. Stoll, A. Ya. Neff and E. Steinwald,in which on behalf of the Crimean Germans expressed solidarity with the Tatars regarding the separation of Crimea from Great Russia and Ukraine and the formation of a “separate state units”.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs D. Seidamet, with the knowledge of S. Sulkevich, without the consent of other members of the regional government, appointed AS Aivazov Charge d’Affaires of Crimea in Turkey. However, a scandal broke out in the government soon and the diplomatic powers of AS Aivazov were revoked. The proposal to create a khanate under the protectorate of Germany and Turkey was ignored by Berlin, which did not want to increase the influence of the Turks in the Crimea and further complications in relations with Ukraine and Russia. However, this proposal became known in Crimea and led to crises in the Sulkevich government in September and the Crimean Tatar national self-government in the autumn. In October 1918, because of this, he resigned as head of the Directory A. Hilmi.AS Aivazov did not return to the Crimea from Turkey for several months. In November 1918At its last meeting, the Kurultai strongly condemned the “adventure” of several people to initiate the establishment of the Khanate as being in direct violation of the Crimean Tatar Basic Laws, and set up a special commission of inquiry to investigate the note.

That is, the national self-government bodies of the Crimean Tatars in the autumn of 1918 continued to pursue the course of creating an independent republic in the Crimea. This is evidenced by the position of their representatives in the Crimean delegation at the talks in Kiev in October 1918 with the delegation of the Ukrainian State. At that time, the Ukrainian government proposed to unite Crimea with Ukraine on the rights of broad autonomy under a single supreme power of the hetman, but representatives of the Sulkevich government rejected this proposal as a “project of enslavement.”

The Crimean Tatar National Party (probably Millie Firka) seems to have adopted a program in the autumn of 1918 that began with the demand to ” create a true people’s republic in Crimea and recognize in a broad sense the freedom of action of all nations inhabiting Crimea , both nationally and nationally. ” cultural sense . ”

In the autumn, due to a series of crises and failures of the Crimean regional government, the impending defeat of Germany, which supported him, the pro-Russian opposition to him intensified in Crimea. Under these circumstances, S. Sulkevych, under the influence of the Kurultai, announced the resumption of democratic zemstvos and dumas, which he had previously tried to replace with qualifications, and preparations for the convening of the Crimean parliament with constituent powers. However, they did not have time to choose the latter, because after the defeat of Germany in World War I, Sulkevich’s cabinet was forced to hand over power to the Crimean regional government of Cadet S. Crimea, formed by supporters of “United Russia” . 4 cadets, one SR and one SDK and several non-partisans became ministers. At the end of autumn,Volunteer Army units and an Entente squadron also appeared in the Crimea.

The relations between the Crimean Tatar self-government bodies and the new government were immediately tense, as the latter did not include any Crimean Tatars, and their political goals did not coincide. They intensified after the resistance of Crimean Tatar structures to mobilize Crimean Tatars to the Volunteer Army. Eventually, this led to a direct conflict – attempts by local authorities to interfere in the competence of self-government bodies, searches in February 1919 in the premises of the latter and their members, editorial offices of Crimean Tatar newspapers, as well as delays in the second convocation of parliament – Majlis Mebusan in March 1919, 35 of whose 45 delegates were elected from the Milli Firka party.

Under these circumstances, in January 1919, the Crimean Tatar Parliamentary Bureau approved the Regulations on the Cultural and National Autonomy of the Muslims of Crimea. However, although they did not advertise, they continued to cherish plans for the independence of Crimea. This is known from the correspondence of the leaders of the Crimean Tatars with the leadership of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. On February 4, 1919, the head of the Extraordinary Bureau of the Crimean Tatar Parliament SD Khattatov wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan FH Khoisky that “the Turko-Tatars, who had been fighting for their independence , were experiencing the current time is a very difficult moment». SD Khattatov’s alarm was caused by persecution by the Volunteer Army and the Cadet government, and by the threat of coercive measures due to the opposition of Crimean Tatar organizations to mobilizations. As well as the threat of general destruction of the Turko-Tatars by the Bolsheviks approaching the Crimea, as revenge for the war with them in 1917. In this regard, the Emergency Bureau asked the Azerbaijani leadership to inform the British government, which “has long been a patron Muslims. ”On February 5, 1919, the chairman of the board of directors of the national government, S. Mishorla, and the director of foreign relations, A. Ozenbashli, stated in a letter to F. Kh. Khoisky that “the idea of ​​Crimea’s independence is sacred to us.”They reported that the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the regional government D. Seidamet was given a mandate to protect and defend the independence of Crimea, and the Extraordinary Crimean Tatar Parliamentary Bureau decided to send a delegation to Paris and the Princes’ Islands for the same purpose. “We are very depressed” that the supporters of “united and indivisible Russia”, who actually seized power in Crimea, on the one hand, and the Bolshevik element coming from the north, on the other, “will not allow us to carry out our intentions, “the Directory wrote. They expressed hope for the protection of the Crimean brothers from Azerbaijan.

However, in the conditions of short-term existence on most of the peninsula of the Crimean Soviet Socialist Republic (late April – late June 1919), which tried to pursue a policy taking into account the Crimean Tatar factor, as well as the military dictatorship of whites (from late June 1919) in Crimean Tatar leaders could not really influence the status of Crimea. Moreover, in August 1919, the Denikin regime banned the activities of the Crimean Tatar national self-government bodies, restored the pre-revolutionary Tavrian Mohammedan Spiritual Board and the Special Waqf Commission, and in the fall began persecuting leaders and activists of the Crimean Tatar movement. Organizationally, the Crimean Tatar movement continued to exist in the form of underground activities of the Milli Firka party (translated by the People’s Party). In this situation,Turkic solidarity, which the leaders of the Crimean Tatar politicum had hoped for in their February letters to the head of the ADR, could not help effectively, and hopes for Great Britain implemented even more futile. Crimean Tatar leaders also considered in 1919 the possibility of cooperation with the UPR and the Bolsheviks. The Central Committee of Milli Firka instructed M. Yenileyev to even contact the head of the Directory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, S. Petliura. In November 1919, in Sevastopol, a member of the Milli Central Committee, Firka Abduramanov, concluded an agreement with a representative of the Crimean regional organization of the RCP (B. In the spring of 1920, contacts between the Millifirs and the Bolsheviks resumed,and at a conference in Koktebel of the Crimean organization of the RCP (B) it was decided to strengthen contact with the Tatar national party Milli-Firka, which focused on Soviet power. In the summer of 1920, Millie Firka sent M. Yenileyev to Odessa for talks with the Bolsheviks, however, it seems that the party leadership eventually forbade him to sign the agreement.

In April 1920, Poland and the Ukrainian People’s Republic concluded the Warsaw Pact and the Military Convention and launched an offensive of their troops in Ukraine. At the same time, D. Seidamet began negotiations in Switzerland with Polish diplomats on the establishment of a Polish protectorate over Crimea. That is, the Crimean Tatar leader advocated the status of a mandated territory for his homeland. In May 1920, he addressed this proposal to the League of Nations, which refused to consider it. In the summer, he sent new leaders to the Crimea for Millie Firk. In November 1920, D. Seidamet tried to negotiate a mandate for Crimea with the top leadership of Poland, but in the end J. Pilsudski in diplomatic form advised him to discuss the status of Crimea with the UPR.

Continuation here .

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

Andrey Ivanets

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senior Researcher at Ukrainian National Research Institute

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