There are at least two main possible scenarios for the withdrawal of Muscovites from Crimea.
The first is when one morning (like dew on the sun) it becomes clear that the occupiers are no longer on the peninsula. The entire brave armada, together with the security units, the police, the FSB, investigators of all kinds of committees, judges, the top collaborators with their families and looted property will leave in a matter of days under the pressure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the risk of the bridge crossing from the Crimean Peninsula to Taman finally falling. They will call it a “gesture of goodwill” or a “negative offensive”. In fact, as in the song: “Muscovites ran away, until they lost their feet.” We have already observed this in Kherson.
The second scenario is fierce battles for every centimeter, complete destruction of infrastructure, destruction and pollution of the entire environment. An example is the situation in the Lymansky, Bakhmutsky, Avdiivskyi and Marinskyi directions.
And what do we do right after we enter the Crimea?
Let’s imagine that the Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the Crimean peninsula, blue and yellow flags fly on the buildings. We must take control of the peninsula into our hands, simultaneously performing two extremely important functions: resisting the attacks of Muscovites from the Krasnodar Territory and ensuring the livelihood of the population.
At the moment of liberation, it is important that as many Muscovites and collaborators as possible manage to escape from the peninsula, so that as few of them as possible remain on the liberated peninsula. I understand our desire for satisfaction, but I am sure that the number of openly hostile population is directly proportional to the speed and quality of the formation of the Ukrainian government in the liberated Crimea. The smaller the enemy population, the deeper Ukrainian new rules, traditions, and practices formed during the war will “penetrate” Crimean society. Sooner, Crimean society will be woven into the Ukrainian society. Fewer resources will be required for recovery.
We will not be able to rely on the remnants of the occupation authorities. The occupying power system must be dismantled. All processes on the peninsula will have to be managed by the military, probably in the format of military-civilian administrations (hereafter referred to as the ACA). The ACA should become the first and main tool for the restoration of Ukrainian rules, norms, procedures, and bodies.
Is it possible to involve local personnel in management? Probably so. But the first managers should be motivated and trained specialists. The basis of the cadres of the liberated Ukrainian Crimea are people who lived in the free territories of Ukraine and decided to come to Crimea for its reconstruction. These people have to cover two key areas: managing the liberated territories (1) and implementing changes, or in other words, returning Crimean society to the all-Ukrainian context (2).
The main criterion for attracting such personnel should be their ability to perform the function. It does not matter, neither place of residence, nor attachment to Crimea.
I think that the readiness to go to the newly liberated territories to work in the authorities will certainly be expressed by mega-motivated Ukrainians (most likely the youth), as well as, unfortunately, scoundrels. A crisis situation is always a place for illegal enrichment. Our task is to reduce the number of scoundrels by increasing the mega-motivated Ukrainians who will go. A person with a stable life (family, work, friends, home) is unlikely to seek to conquer new post-conflict territories. Therefore, it will be young people and those who have a burning desire to return home. The state should support such desperate people and ensure the proper level of their work: safety, appropriate level of remuneration, provision of housing, etc.
Ukraine has already created separate Crimean bodies. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the police and bodies of the Security Service of Ukraine, are already active (and quite progressive). Therefore, they should not be “created” in the liberated Crimea, they should be relocated.
What about Muscovites who moved to the peninsula during this time? expulsion Everyone who was on the peninsula during the occupation came to Crimea in violation of the order established by our state, that is, illegally. Accordingly, like any foreigners who have illegally arrived on Ukrainian soil, such persons are subject to deportation in accordance with the procedure established for foreigners who have illegally crossed the state border. We are building a European state, and therefore this process will not be identical to the criminal Soviet practice of deportations. Time and a clear, understandable algorithm will be provided, as required by European human rights standards.
Muscovites who have close relatives (spouses, children, parents) who are citizens of Ukraine have the right to submit documents for obtaining a permanent residence permit in Ukraine. Since the basis for such a permit and the quota (the number of such permits per year) are determined by the state, we have a tool for a flexible migration policy for Muscovites. This will allow us to carefully choose which of the Muscovites we need, and to grant residence permits in Ukraine to the persons we need.
Some of our citizens in the occupation received the citizenship of Moscow voluntarily and have no desire to be residents of Ukraine. We should not disturb such persons. Voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of another state by an adult citizen of Ukraine is already defined by law as an independent basis for depriving such a person of Ukrainian citizenship[i]. A person who declared that he received the citizenship of Moscow voluntarily has the right to be deprived of the citizenship of Ukraine. We need to think about what and how the state can still support such people who leave for permanent residence in Moscow, and this is not a joke.
Responsibility: traitors, collaborators, assistants of the occupiers, employees of the so-called authorities and administration of the Russian Federation in Crimea
Let’s arrange everything on the shelves:
1.Only actions are subject to punishment and condemnation. Not people. Not their thoughts. And SPECIFIC ACTIONS, which are proven in the manner established by law.
2.Those who led and those who performed should not bear equal responsibility.
3.Responsibility should occur for criminal acts. That is, the actions described by the Criminal Code of Ukraine. For example, participation in illegal armed formations fighting against Ukraine is a crime. Accordingly, we are obliged to prosecute all members of illegal armed groups. At the same time, Crimean conscripts are victims.
4.Responsibility should not depend on age, gender, nationality, religion, etc.
5.Certain categories of crimes/criminals may be eligible for amnesty.
6.Serious and especially serious crimes are not eligible for amnesty.
7.A ban on individual individuals holding certain positions (being employed) in state authorities and local self-government bodies should be applied. In other words, lustration.
Accordingly, our task today is to collect as much information as possible about the activities of all representatives of the authorities and management of the occupiers: photos, video materials, lists, decisions, statements, public speeches, etc.
8.Punishment for criminal actions can be reduced, or a person can be exempted from responsibility, if he provided substantial information about the illegal activities of his management and thus contributed to the detection of crimes. In other words, a high-quality report on the chief’s crimes is welcome.
I remind you that such an action as the performance of a special task to prevent or reveal criminally illegal activities of an organized group or criminal organization is provided for by the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and in itself is the basis for exemption from responsibility.
In connection with this, I sincerely advise all collaborators, traitors who are currently in Crimea, to establish relations with our relevant bodies and institutions, to transfer valuable information to Ukraine, to perform other tasks important for our Victory.
Citizens of Ukraine who voluntarily entered the military service of the occupier must be deprived of citizenship in accordance with paragraph 3 of part 1, article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine” [ii]. Those who entered the ranks of the enemy’s armed forces in connection with conscription for military service are not considered such. They are victims of a war crime committed by representatives of the occupation authorities[iii].
There should be no double standards in matters of responsibility. And here we face an important, although not yet obvious, question regarding the responsibility of persons who cooperated with the occupation authorities, whose actions contain signs of collaborationism, and who are currently in the territories controlled by Ukraine, but the actions of such persons have not yet been assessed by law enforcement agencies.
Acquisition and termination of ownership of real estate located in the temporarily occupied territory is carried out in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine outside the temporarily occupied territory[iv]. This is a requirement of the current legislation.
Therefore, everything that does not meet these requirements of our law should, if possible, be transferred to the compensation fund for victims of Russian aggression. The criteria and procedure for reviewing decisions related to property relations should be approved at least at the concept level.
Property that was seized illegally must be returned to the owners. And if this is impossible, it should be compensated at the expense of Muscovite assets. This applies to both private and public property. Therefore, a mechanism of restitution and compensation should be introduced.
More detailed recommendations to state authorities in the field of protecting the rights of owners are set out on page 108 of the report of the NGO “Regional Center for Human Rights” in 2021.
Crimea should be the same region as all regions of Ukraine. The same rights, the same distribution of powers of authorities. This is the key to the formation of a stable and just society.
For more than nine years, Muscovites killed trust, destroyed civil society in Crimea, changed the composition of the population: squeezed out the progressive part of society and imported their own citizens. While our society was developing towards the civilized world, forming progressive democratic traditions, Crimean society was falling into the abyss, becoming more and more intertwined with Muscovite society every year. A large-scale invasion only accelerated these processes. Returning a society traumatized by the Moscow occupation to a normal course is not an easy task.
The path of destruction is much faster than the path of recovery. Therefore, the recovery time of the region cannot be shorter than the time of occupation. Until the Crimean population, traumatized by the occupation, has regained its ability to live according to the rules and laws of Ukrainian society, military-civilian administrations must act.
Indigenous peoples of Ukraine
Our state has normatively established that the indigenous peoples of Ukraine are the Crimean Tatars, Karaites, and Krymchaks.
Ukraine takes care of the development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of all indigenous peoples living on the territory of the state through the specially adopted Law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine”[v] and a system of other normative legal acts. These normative legal acts were adopted at the request of representatives of indigenous peoples of Ukraine and with their participation.
The law defines the procedure for the formation of representative bodies of indigenous peoples, as well as a list of issues on which state authorities must conduct consultations with representative bodies of indigenous peoples[vi].
I am sure that the indigenous peoples of Ukraine will formulate their cultural, linguistic, religious and other needs, which our state can/should support. The initiative in this should come from them, because who else knows their needs better. Probably, we should make a little more effort to support/preserve such peoples as Karaites and Krymchaks, because their numbers, according to information in public sources, are constantly decreasing. The development of the Ukrainian nation is impossible without including the interests of this part of our society in the national development plan.
So far, none of the indigenous peoples has used the procedure stipulated by the law, and no institution has received the status of a representative body of the indigenous people of Ukraine[vii]. But the definition of a representative body is a right of the indigenous peoples of Ukraine, not an obligation. The state has created the necessary mechanism. At the same time, it is a step behind the indigenous peoples of Ukraine.
Decommunization and decolonization are tasks of the first stage of the formation of a symbolic Ukrainian space in Crimea. Enemy symbols and toponyms must be removed and crossed out. Constructions such as “gorot Russian maryakofs” and “narot Crimea” should follow the “Russian ship”. But a monument should be erected to the cruiser Moskva (but this is already at the third stage). The second stage is to restore the toponymy of Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, as well as many other peoples and generations that have lived in Crimea for thousands of years. The third stage is to create modern Ukrainian symbols, modern Ukrainian toponymy, in particular to honor the Ukrainians of Crimea who defended our freedom and died in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The achievements of the Ukrainian army and the resilience of the Ukrainian people should be reflected in the new symbols.
It is important to replace the Soviet and imperial toponymy with a more emotionally and meaningfully powerful one, to restore the endurance of generations, to tie the space to the past and recent history of Ukraine at the same time.
Ensuring rapid and complete decolonization and decommunization, creating the same rules of life in Crimea as in other regions of Ukraine, will restore what was lost during the occupation.
Culture is a broad concept that covers some of the issues that have already been described in other sections of this article. In this section, we will focus on only two aspects: the protection, preservation, restoration of the Ukrainian national cultural heritage (1) and the formation of Ukrainian identity among the Crimeans (2).
Cultural heritage. Muscovites will steal everything they manage to steal from what they haven’t stolen yet, and what they can’t steal, they will spit. In this regard, we can only organize the proper collection of evidence of this crime. And the necessary conditions for future victory should be, in particular, extradition of war criminals for prosecution, return of stolen cultural values, compensation for damages caused by destruction, removal of cultural values and other criminal actions. Our task is to restore information, return artifacts of all peoples and generations that lived on the peninsula at different times. Ukrainian heritage in Crimea is unique in that it was formed under the influence of different periods – Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman, Crimean Tatar, and also, unfortunately, Russian and Soviet.
Muscovites used (and use) culture as one of the main tools of aggression[viii]. The return of Ukrainian society to the peninsula will require balanced, but at the same time radical steps to change the cultural paradigms of Crimean society.
Цінності, норми, традиції, звичаї, тощо – все це має бути замінено з деструктивного московитсько-лагерного стилю на цивілізований. Культурі у звільненому Криму ми маємо приділяти реально багато зусиль. Театр, школа, позашкільний час, кіно, книга мають бути сучасними, прогресивними, самими цікавим і самими модними. Це важливо для всіх регіонів України, але звертаю увагу, що для звільненого півострова це має особливе значення, оскільки систему культури, освіти московити в першу чергу використовували як інструмент пропаганди, інструмент формування антиукраїнського суспільства, суспільства яничар та зрадників[ix].
Тому в самому широкому розуміння задачею культурного впливу в звільненому Криму має бути формування в наших громадян української ідентичності: спираючись на минуле, розвиваючи сучасне українське.
The question of language
Every citizen of Ukraine is obliged to know the state language – this is a requirement of the law[x]. Therefore, it makes no sense to discuss whether those who do not know the language will learn it or not. They will definitely study if they have a desire/need to live in Ukraine and be its citizens.
We have to help those who need it to overcome fear and go through the path of learning the Ukrainian language.
In my opinion, the question of “knowledge of the language” is not so much a question of education. This is a matter of creating the right environment.
“Language knowledge” consists of three key components: listening skills, or understanding what others are saying (1), reading skills, or understanding what is written (2), and speaking, dialogue skills (3).
Those who lived in Crimea during the time of independence (elderly people) understand the Ukrainian language by ear and understand what is written in Ukrainian[xi], although they do not have the ability to speak. It can be quickly mastered if there is a suitable environment. However, the lack of “speaking” skills does not create critical discomfort for living. We will help such people if they wish.
Only children of a certain age do not “know the Ukrainian language” – children who were born and/or grew up during the occupation. People aged 10-20 years. This is the age when a person easily learns new things. Therefore, it is only a matter of resources. Children/youth learn quickly. Again, the right environment plays an important role.
Clubs, theaters, libraries, churches are all elements of the “Ukrainian society” system that, in particular, impart knowledge outside of ordinary educational institutions. It is necessary to completely change all traditions in the spheres of culture, education, training, leisure. An important task in this case will be played by the deployment of the system of informal education – courses, trainings, online learning, professional internships, etc., as well as the stimulation of self-education among Crimeans.
Therefore, we need to completely capture the symbolic space and quickly shape the Ukrainian environment.
The main factors that will contribute to the rapid reintegration of the liberated territories are time, decommunization, decolonization, prosecution of criminals, lustration, active Ukrainization of the entire space, including symbolic ones (installation of monuments, renaming of streets, settlements, restoration of Ukrainian institutions, which also have a symbolic meaning, such as the Tavri National University, Ukrainian theaters, museums, etc.). We must ensure the outflow of the anti-Ukrainian population and the quick return of the Ukrainian space, the Ukrainian civilized environment. After liberation, we will have little time for effective transformations of the liberated society, so the solutions to be implemented should be ready already. Ukrainian society should prepare for long and hard work in the liberated territories in absolutely all areas of human life.
head of the NGO “Regional Center for Human Rights”, expert of the “Humanitarian Policy” group of the Crimean Platform by order of the editors of the newspaper “Krymska Svіtlytsia”
The Ukrainian version of the article is here
[i] Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine”, access mode https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2235-14#n216
[ii] Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine”, access mode https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2235-14#n216
[iv] Law of Ukraine “On ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens and the legal regime in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”, access mode https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1207-18#n61
[v] Law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine” https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1616-20#Text
[vi] Procedure for conducting consultations of executive authorities with representative bodies of indigenous peoples of Ukraine https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1018-2022-%D0%BF#n10
[viii] “Cultural special operation”, or how Russia uses its culture in the war against Ukraine https://krymbezpravil.org.ua/analytics/kulturna-spetsoperatsiia-abo-iak-rosiia-vykorystovuie-svoiu-kulturu-u-viyni- proty-ukrainy/
[ix] School education: the hidden weapon of the Russian Federation against Ukraine https://krymbezpravil.org.ua/analytics/shkilna-osvita-prykhovana-zbroia-rf-proty-ukrainy-2/
[x] Law of Ukraine “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language” https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2704-19#Text
[xi] I do not count stubborn marginals. Because if a person for more than 20 years has not considered it necessary to treat his country with respect and understand the state language at a minimal level, then let it be that person’s choice.