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In this text, its most important part, namely: the state program and state planning for the reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, will not be put in the first place, which would be natural, but in the last part. This is due not only to the fact that these plans themselves are extremely poorly developed, but also to the fact that, as practice shows, in hyperdynamic situations, the actual application of any plans sharply contrasts with the stated intentions. That is, to put it simply, practice shows that the theory, at least at the first stage, is practically useless.
To begin with, it is necessary to generally describe the socio-cultural circumstances in the occupied Crimea and beyond: it will be about people, citizens, loyal to Ukraine and disloyal, living in Crimea and beyond. In this article, we will bracket the Crimean Tatar community as a subject of a separate discussion, and include it in the community of “political Ukrainians in Crimea” and “Crimeans outside Crimea”.
Ukrainians of Crimea
Ukrainians of Crimea are, in fact, the most discriminated ethnic community in Crimea under Russian occupation since 2014. The persecution of both Crimean Tatars and a separate movement of Muslims is an important phenomenon of the occupation life of Crimea, but its consideration is beyond the scope of this article.
As in Russia in general, Ukrainians in Crimea have been assigned by the occupation regime the role of no more than folklore (rather pseudo-folklore) groups, a role no more than demonstrative. In folk costumes, they can perform several numbers at various “holidays” organized by the state. But no more. Instead, neither education in the Ukrainian language nor publication of literature is and cannot be discussed. According to the plan of the occupiers, the Ukrainians of Crimea should dissolve in the Russian-speaking majority – actually assimilate.
Participation in fake folk ensembles should create the impression that this is enough for the Crimean Ukrainians themselves, they do not have any other desires, they themselves allegedly do not seek other forms of national existence. In part, this is reminiscent of the fake “Ukrainian culture” of the times of the Soviet Union, which filled the space of real living culture. (see https://ua.krymr.com/a/krym-krymskotatarskiy-ukrainskiy-yazyki-lingvocid/31319910.html )
Moreover, in the ongoing state of war, everything related to the symbolic field of Ukraine (flag, anthem, coat of arms) is perceived as unambiguously hostile, as a sign of the criminality of the person who displays them. The main national symbols are completely criminalized. The use of the Ukrainian language in public space is on the precarious edge of such a status, at least there are recorded episodes of police response to the performance of songs in Ukrainian in bars. (see https://www.svoboda.org/a/sud-oshtrafoval-missis-krym -2022-za-pesnyu-chervona-kalina-/32064229.html )
The self-identification of Ukrainians living in Crimea is probably similar to the self-perception of Ukrainians in the Russian Federation. Among other things, they are characterized as hiding their nationality, which was reflected in the results of the latest population censuses of the Russian Federation. In the last year, it has become simply dangerous to declare oneself as a “Ukrainian” – however subjectively. National associations are closing en masse, often on their own initiative. The transmission of the Ukrainian language and culture to the next generations is practically impossible under such conditions. (see https://storage.googleapis.com/stories/stories/2023/01/24/pochemu–pri–putine–sokrashchaetsya–ukrainskoe–naselenie/index.html )
Ukrainians of Crimea as a political community
At least two groups, two identities, collectively called “Ukrainians of Crimea” should be distinguished. These are ethnic Ukrainians living in Crimea and “Ukrainians as representatives of the political nation”, residents of Crimea. These are close, but still different categories. There are many sympathizers of Ukraine among ethnic Russians, just as ethnic Ukrainians may well be loyal to the Russian Federation – participants in ethnographic festivals are probably mostly ethnic Ukrainians. One of the markers of belonging to the “Ukrainian political nation” for the residents of Crimea can be immersion, even if incomplete, in the information flow of Ukraine. Staying in this stream, sharing joys and troubles with Ukraine is probably the only form of existence of a Ukrainian in Crimea – a person “under occupation”, a person “waiting for liberation”. At the same time, the horizontal connections of these Crimean Ukrainians are limited to family and close friends, and in public life, even at work or in a store, they have to hide their views. Now this is a “cluster of loners”, but their real number among the Crimean population in general is probably high.
Після осінніх успіхів ЗСУ на полі бою, після атак на кримські військові об’єкти та звільнення Херсона ці кримські українці відчули сплеск надій; імовірно, посилилися сумніви в силі Росії і в стані тих, хто «вагається». Від думки «повернення України до Криму неможливо ніколи» відбувається якийсь дрейф до точки «а раптом це можливо?». Групи твердих «патріотів Росії» відчувають ці зміни настроїв, у мережевих групах вони відзначають дедалі більше таких, «хто очікує». Якщо раніше в настроях «тих, хто вагається» відзначався лише брак радості від перебування під російським прапором, то тепер у них підозрюють зрадників – крім уже відомих, які тонко маскуються, «правосєків», «хохлів» тощо.
Безумовно, саме ця категорія – «українці Криму» – і стане тим кадровим резервом, основою державного апарату після деокупації. Ймовірно, вони не обіймуть провідних ролей і найбільш значущих посад, обіймуть середню та нижчу ланки корпусу чиновників. Проблема вельми посилиться тим фактом, що серед них практично не буде держслужбовців із досвідом – держслужбовці вже зараз працюють у «кримських органах влади», тобто скомпрометовані.
Ukrainians as an ethnically marked and discriminated community
Attention should be paid to the fact that the Ukrainians of the Crimea found themselves in a worse situation than the Crimean Tatars. Despite the fact that the total number of Crimean Tatar political prisoners by religion is generally higher than the number of convicted Crimeans who are not Crimean Tatars, there is an almost complete ban on any activity in this direction regarding the culture and religion of Crimean Ukrainians. While the Crimean Tatars have their representatives in the bodies of the occupation authorities, their editorial offices on television, and a functioning muftiyat, the Crimean Ukrainians do not have any political or informational presence in Crimea. The symbol of this demonstrative “cooperation” with the Crimean Tatar community is the completion of the Cathedral Mosque in Simferopol – their largest and newest religious object in Crimea.
Crimeans in mainland Ukraine
Crimeans who moved to the mainland of Ukraine since 2014 are quite naturally perceived as a group that can become the basis of state building in the liberated Crimea. Moreover, they have already declared such potentials. Crimeans make up the leadership in the Permanent Representation of the President in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, probably in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Crimea, they are represented in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (Emine Dzaparova, first deputy minister), in the Verkhovna Rada – deputies Mustafa Dzhemilev, Elizaveta Bogutska, he was a deputy for two terms head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov, Akhtem Chiygoz and Rustem Umerov.
Crimeans have founded a number of research centers (Andrii Klymenko, “Foreign Affairs Maidan”), investigative media (Valentina Samar, “Journalistic Investigation Center”), public human rights organizations (Almenda, Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Crimean Defense, CrimeaSOS “, “Crimean Human Rights Group”, “Crimean Center for Business and Cultural Cooperation “Ukrainian House”, etc.), institutions of self-organization of Ukrainians in Crimea: public union “Coordinating Council of Forced IDPs from Crimea” and KRUK – Regional Council of Ukrainians of Crimea (Andrii Shchekun , Serhiy Mokrenyuk, Andriy Ivanets, Serhiy Kovalskyi), and it was in Kyiv that the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people continued its work.
A significant role is also played by the journalistic community of Crimean immigrants, among which, first of all, it should be noted part of the holding of Radio Liberty, CrimeaRealia, as well as the ATR TV channel, the Voice of Crimea news agency, the Center for Journalistic Investigations, the newspaper Krymska Svetlytsia and Chornomorsk TRK. In addition, more local media projects and network structures aimed at covering Crimean topics appear periodically. The last telegram channels of various kinds during the year of the war became much more active and represent small but very active groups of amateur journalists, rather even reporters, united with the goal of promptly recording events in Crimea, and – what is important – they often consist of Crimeans who living in the occupation, as well as Crimean emigrants from Kyiv, Ukraine and even other countries.
Despite the fact that the return of Crimea for this group is the goal, the basis of their public activity, it is difficult to say to what extent they will participate in state building in the liberated Crimea. Of course, a significant part will return to Crimea (which concerns, first of all, the Mejlis, whose leaders perceive their position as temporary), but the break in ties with Crimea will also be felt. Over the past years, many people have put down roots outside Crimea, in addition, on a psychological and cultural level, many Crimean emigrants painfully perceive the changes that happened to the Crimeans who remained under occupation. Immersing in this environment, working with it, living in it will be emotionally very difficult for many Crimeans (especially those far from social problems), and therefore it is easier to refuse to return there.
Foreign policy context
At this time, it is not clear when and how the liberation of Crimea will take place. However, President Zelenskyi, the heads of foreign policy departments, and the military have repeatedly said that the restoration of all territories occupied by Russia is a “victory of Ukraine”, the goal of the state and current military operations. Of course, in the course of events, the liberation of ORDLO and Crimea may become the subject of various kinds of negotiations, in the end, the country may not have enough strength for the final liberation of all territories, including Crimea and ORDLO. We constantly hear hints and unverified statements that the countries of the West, primarily the United States, are conducting consultations with Moscow, during which the topic of Crimea is constantly raised, in particular, in the sense that its transition to the power of Kyiv may take a long time, in several stages, etc. Reluctance to “ultimately humiliate Russia” is often understood as a refusal to support Kyiv in its efforts to liberate Crimea. By leaving (under all kinds of different verbal covers) the Russian peninsula, we will ease both our situation and theirs, and they should not be in complete despair – this is what the West seems to think (or the public is offered exactly this vision of the problem of “Crimea and its return Ukraine”).
Meanwhile, public and official statements of Western leaders repeatedly contained the phrase about the need to “restore Kyiv’s control over the entire territory of the country – on the 1991 border.” Empty declaration? Maybe not more, but not less. However, observing the progress and nature of military aid to Ukraine, it is not difficult to notice that those weapons that were provided according to a limited list do not allow attacks to be carried out, in particular in Crimea. This happens most clearly with missile systems – those with a range of no more than 80 km are provided, in the future – with a strike range of 160 km. The latter, when they can be used, will allow attacking targets only in the north of Crimea. It seems that Western leaders want to tell Putin: our weapons will not be used to strike Crimea.
Instead, some Western officials said that the objects in Crimea are a “legitimate target” for Ukrainian forces. The topic of supplying Ukraine with aircraft and long-range missiles is constantly being discussed. Many observers are already building the contours of the future Ukrainian offensive, in which strikes are carried out in Crimea and, as a result, the further cleansing of Crimea from Russian troops is a key episode.
At the same time, it seems fair to say that it is easier for Putin to give up Kursk Oblast than Crimea, its capture is a symbol of success for Putin.
In the course of the interviews conducted by me, the opinion was expressed that the “problem of Crimea” itself is not singled out as a separate one by European politicians and experts. It is included in a wider context – the liberation of Ukrainian territories in general. Ukrainian troops in Crimea – this picture is imaginary and almost completely theoretical. In addition, Crimea is perceived as one of many “red lines” across which Ukrainians (and their partners) should not cross – the presence of this “Crimean red line” in Putin’s head is accepted by Western politicians as very likely. (see the interview of Martin Larush, a political scientist from the Czech Republic https://anchor.fm/kostiantyn5/episodes/ep–e1u9055?fbclid=IwAR2px2mr920wN557MsgHDfFEVXvnYSirU2SKG_1SfiOWO9xonJUw4i4sTQ8 )
The main question: what should be the liberated Crimea?
Currently, both among Crimean migrants, and to a lesser extent among Crimeans on the peninsula, there are discussions about the desired future status of Crimea. There will probably not be a return to the state of an “autonomous republic” – both completely pragmatic considerations play a role here – it was the autonomous republic and all those autonomous practices that led to the state of Crimea vulnerable to aggression until 2014, as well as symbolic emotional energies – the phrase “Autonomous Republic of Crimea” provokes a sharply negative reaction among many Ukrainians. So what status (and practices) are proposed for Crimea as part of Ukraine?
At the same time, it is quite clear that after Crimea is freed from Russian soldiers, a certain transitional period will be established, when the territory will be under the control of the military-civilian administration (see below about it). There are also such ideas that under some kind of “international control” there should be management in the presence of observers from international organizations.
So, in the internal Ukrainian discourse, there are now competing opinions according to which the future Crimea becomes the “national autonomy of the Crimean Tatars” and – at the other pole – as an ordinary region of Ukraine, in the management and budget of which there is no specificity.
In favor of granting Crimea the status of national and cultural autonomy of the Crimean Tatars, the following arguments are given:
– Only such a status will allow preserving and developing the culture of the Crimean Tatars, it will be the achievement of the national goal – statehood, albeit in such a limited form.
– The role of the Crimean Tatars as a kind of key, state-forming group, which will be a guarantee of stopping the recurrence of irredentist and separatist sentiments in Crimea, the threats of which are possible if the leading positions of the Russian cultural majority are preserved.
The disadvantages of this status are called:
– Undemocratic granting of preferences on the basis of nationality, as a result – violation of the rights of Crimeans of non-Crimean Tatar nationality.
– Provocation of discontent of the Slavic majority, which may eventually lead to disloyalty to Kyiv even if the authorities make mistakes. At the same time, the accusations brought against him will be of a very painful nature – discrimination on the basis of nationality.
– Creation of conditions for the development of corruption – a relatively narrow layer of Crimean Tatar officials will control significant resources, which will allegedly encourage them to abuse.
How the argument is given, for example: “How many Crimean Tatars are currently cooperating with the occupiers? How many of them are in higher positions? A lot And in the field of education – a significant number. So why do we think that the Crimean Tatars are our allies? Ordinary Crimean residents, no more.” One can also hear doubts that among the Crimean Tatars there will be a sufficient number of qualified specialists capable of working in state structures, especially in the role of the backbone of the state apparatus in Crimea.
Under the brackets of these arguments, the certainty that national autonomy is understood as the rule of the Crimean Tatars in the Crimean government is put forward. Why will it be so? Why officials and elected officials from among the background population will not be able to develop Crimean Tatar culture? The key, as you can see, is the question of the prescribed principles on which this or that form of the Crimean state system will be built, and the steadfastness of its implementation.
In turn, supporters of Crimea’s status as a normal region of Ukraine say that only in this way can sabotage of Kyiv’s decisions be prevented, and full-scale Ukrainization of the population be prevented. Counterarguments are also built on this: a general approach to cultural policy in Crimea is undesirable for the country, it will be potentially conflict-causing and ineffective.
! The main drawback of transferring Crimea to the status of a “cross-sectional region” is that it will allegedly not be adequate and fully applicable to a complex and multifaceted political and cultural situation. The presence of a large Crimean Tatar community and an even larger Russian-cultural one will not be able to bring the Crimean reality to the all-Ukrainian one. However, the reform of local self-government is already underway, in which the role of regional centers has been significantly reduced in favor of communities. Perhaps the transfer of powers and resources to the lowest level will be the best solution that will ensure the harmonious development of Crimea?
Problems with understanding the situation in Crimea
Of course, in order to form some kind of strategy regarding Crimea, it is necessary to understand what will have to be worked with. But we don’t have much accurate information about what is happening now and has been happening in Crimea in recent years. One of the reasons is the extreme secrecy or unreliability of Russian official data and official statements, as well as the absence of international and independent organizations in the region.
We do not even know the exact number of the population of Crimea now. It is not clear how many migrated from Crimea in recent years, and how many came to live in Russian regions. There are figures of several hundred thousand (but how many?) of those who left, and 500 thousand of those who settled.
The political views of the Crimean population are unclear. A priori, it can be assumed that those who settled are disloyal to Ukraine. But the rest, almost 2 million? The following general view is often used: 20% have remained loyal to Ukraine, 20% are loyal to the Russian Federation and have managed to demonstrate this in one form or another (even if only in the form of statements in private conversations and on social networks), and the rest do not have a firm judgment and follow public opinion by a dominating force – and even more so by “state” power. It can also be assumed a priori that at the moment of the release, this basic part of the population will weigh on the scales, on the one hand, inconveniences and threats from the Russian state (of which there are many, above all, total police control), and on the other hand, the uncertainty of Kyiv’s policy towards them. A direct and clear declaration regarding Crimea and Crimeans from the first persons of the state will be absolutely necessary at that moment – as well as the presence of a clear and verified strategy for further actions.
What is the state of the economy? It can be assumed that the incomes of Crimeans and local authorities are largely determined by the amount of subsidies received from Moscow. Which industries and spheres are profitable, and will they be able to remain so even after leaving the Russian legal field and economy? And what can Ukraine do, how to create a viable business in Crimea. And in what volumes? According to Yuriy Smelyanskyi, even the part of Crimeans loyal to Ukraine after six months of falling living standards and economic instability will experience disappointment, which, in turn, will strengthen the disloyal part of Crimea’s residents. How to create a stable economic model for Crimea and Crimeans is one of the main tasks of Ukraine in the first post-occupation period. (see https://anchor.fm/kostiantyn5/episodes/ep–e1t5cj7 )
Sevastopol is a separate point. In this city, the mentioned problems – the mood of the residents, the structure of the economy, the reintegration plan, in general, the definition of the role and functions of this city in Ukraine – are increased even more. However, it can be said for sure that after the military defeat of Russia, the base of the Black Sea Fleet will be withdrawn from there.
These are the directions that will require significant efforts and a clear state policy after: 1) a general political decision regarding the Crimeans in mass and 2) solving the economic issues.
At the moment, Crimea is the most densely developed military territory by the Russian authorities. Now there are about 150 military facilities located there, 15 airfields and 2 factories for the needs of military aviation are in varying degrees of efficiency, the Black Sea Fleet occupies a huge space and capacity, and not only in Sevastopol. (see https://zn.ua/ukr/UKRAINE/rosijani-vikoristovujut-shchonajmenshe-desjat-vijskovikh-aerodromiv-u-krimu-radio-svoboda.html). In recent years, significant residential construction has been launched in Crimea under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation – for officers and sergeants. Plus, there are military facilities left over from Ukraine, such as, for example, training grounds in Perevalny and on the Kerch Peninsula.
All this large economy provides a significant number of jobs for the civilian population, and besides, it is very resource-intensive. In many ways, Sevastopol can be called a city critically dependent on the fleet – its budget, both municipal and the aggregate budget of residents, depends on the money of the fleet, perhaps to a key extent.
How can Ukraine compensate for this? It makes no sense to fill Crimea with troops, as Russia is doing. What solutions can be offered is still unclear.
Property of Russians and selected property of Ukrainians
Even before the occupation of Crimea in 2014, Russian corporations and Russian citizens had considerable assets on the peninsula, both in the form of property and in the form of various shares of industrial assets. During the years of occupation, everything or almost everything in Crimea became Russian. Both industry and private property of citizens in Crimea should be confiscated? Or not, not in full? What will be the criteria of the Ukrainian state regarding the property of Russians?
It can be assumed that all sales contracts (as well as withdrawals to the state fund) concluded after 2014 will be annulled. But even theoretically, it is possible to calculate that there should be compensations for those Russians who suffer losses during this cancellation. A Russian citizen who bought a house in Crimea must vacate it, but who will pay him the invested money and in what amount? Will not pay them?
When it comes to large investments by private companies (state investments of the Russian Federation, for example, in roads are not compensated), then the inventory and assessment of this property is a significant job in itself, and in addition, it has a great potential for corruption.
In addition, to whom and under what conditions should this property be transferred, if it is to be sold, then by what procedure?
Requirements of justice
Collaborators – who are they and how will the existing legal criteria help with regard to the Crimean population?
Currently, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are guided by Article 111-1 of the Criminal Code, which came into effect in the current wartime version on March 15, 2022, in identifying and prosecuting suspected collaborators.
Therefore, in Crimea, we will have to detain all education workers and employees of state and municipal structures. And in addition, there are also citizens not directly connected to the state, who publicly declared their support for the occupation and helped the Russian authorities in persecuting Ukrainian patriots. Their total number, according to preliminary data, will be at least 500,000 people. (https://anchor.fm/kostiantyn5/episodes/ep–e1t5cj7) Moreover, even at the stage of preliminary forecasts, it can be assumed that many of this group will destroy Ukrainian passports, and despite the fact that the deprivation of Ukrainian citizenship is a rare case, it it will be a delicate moral and legal moment to judge a person who has declared his renunciation of citizenship.
Half a million convicts is an almost impossible task. It is not only about the fact that there simply will not be enough places in prisons in Ukraine (given that similar campaigns will need to be carried out in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well), but also about the stunning impression that all this will make on Crimeans, and Ukrainians in general. Turning to individual cases, we will see some teacher (or village council guard) who performed his duties without much desire and was forced to obey Russian job instructions – and he will have to be sent behind bars for many years. Following the letter of the law will conflict with the spirit of the law.
But how should the legal framework regarding collaborators be changed? These changes are necessary, the application of Article 111-1 as it is currently drafted will lead either to massive and unjustified brutality or to sabotage the application of the law.
Directly related to the previous point is the problem of Crimeans who have been convicted and are currently serving terms in Russian prisons on charges of extremism, terrorism, and opposition to the so-called SVO. By April 2022, their number was 240, but already in October there were statements that the number of politically motivated cases “doubled”. The task of the state will be (and is now) the release of all these prisoners. But how and who will do it? Currently, there are too many unknowns in what state the Russian Federation will be at the time of the liberation of Crimea, with whom, in fact, will it be necessary to negotiate? Probably, it will be a state program in which the Crimeans will be one of the directions, and the others are, for example, prisoners of war. The rehabilitation program for these prisoners should also become part of the program.
Culture and language
As discussed above, Crimea will need a large-scale transformation of the education process, during which a significant, perhaps even the overwhelming majority of teachers in schools and teachers of universities and colleges will go. And at the same time, it is likely that the educational process will acquire all-Ukrainian forms, first of all, the fact that it will take place in the Ukrainian language. But for most students, it will be a huge stress, in fact, the learning process will stop if it is carried out all at once. So, a global shortage of personnel and complete unpreparedness of schoolchildren and students – this is what the picture will be at the initial stage of the reintegration of education in Crimea.
Are there plans for a phased transformation of Crimean schools and universities? On what principles will this process take place, and what are the terms?
Probably, in post-war Ukraine, samples of Russian culture will occupy marginal, secondary and tertiary positions against the background of Ukrainian and Western cultures. However, cultural institutions – theaters, museums, libraries – are largely based on the presentation of Russian culture. It can be canceled, but how to fill these gaps? The art museum in Simferopol consists of 90% works by artists who had nothing to do with Ukraine. How should the tours conducted in this museum change? And what to do, for example, with the naval museums of Sevastopol? There are no answers.
Creating a concept of interpretation of the Crimean cultural heritage is an extremely important moment of reintegration. Perhaps the memory of the imperial conquests in the Crimea can become the “red thread” that would permeate the Crimean state cultural institutions?
In connection with the previous question, the state policy in the field of mass media is also of interest. A state television and radio company, which has a significant material base, is currently operating in Crimea (on the basis of DTRK “Crimea”). In addition, several private television and radio companies worked on the peninsula. Under what conditions will they work after the establishment of the Ukrainian government? What will be the requirements, in particular, regarding the language of speech? What will be the timetable for switching to the Ukrainian language? Where to find specialists?
As you can already understand, the personnel issue, the question – “And who exactly will carry out reintegration in Crimea and bring Crimean state practices to the all-Ukrainian level?” is key. How should the de-Russification of the state apparatus be carried out, and who should replace the released and convicted? Probably, the potential of the Crimean population will not be enough – or we will have to turn to those employees who have managed to serve Russia a lot, but have the necessary experience. Or we will have to create attractive conditions for Ukrainians from the mainland, and it seems that Crimean migrants will not fill all vacancies – although, perhaps, they will become a kind of backbone of the new bureaucracy.
To some extent, we can observe the course of de-occupation on the example of Kherson and the de-occupied districts of the Kherson region. According to expert Serhii Danilov, after the departure of the Russian troops, the leading part of the state apparatus, which cooperated with the occupiers, ran after them. The average composition of teachers in its mass is not persecuted and continues to work. At the level of village councils, self-government was restored thanks to the activity of communities, but there was a lack of coordination with the Kyiv authorities. The development of infrastructure projects is carried out due to the activity of community heads in the western direction – the search for grants, various assistance, etc. There is a personnel shortage due to the fact that many highly qualified specialists have evacuated from the region and are in no hurry to return – we are talking, first of all, about doctors and managers. It is worth noting that part of the population expresses dissatisfaction with the “softness” of the authorities towards collaborators or those who are considered to be collaborators, in relation to teachers, for example.
“Crimean Strategy” and who is involved in its development?
Who is currently dealing with the Crimean issue among civil state structures? The question is not simple – the fact is that I did not find the declared initiative that the de-occupation strategy is being developed, nor did I find this strategy or at least its elements. By activity, it should be the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories or the Permanent Representation of the President in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
According to Yuriy Smelyanskyi, who was involved a lot in matters of state preparation for de-occupation, at the end of last year he was not aware of any developed program for the reintegration of Crimea, “but there are constant conversations that such a program is being developed.”
Among the goals of the Permanent Representation for 2021 are listed: increasing the effectiveness of the Representation’s work within the framework of the specified powers and tasks set by the President of Ukraine, in order to ensure the prerequisites for the de-occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and their further reintegration through the development of appropriate state policy, overcoming the consequences of the occupation and protecting rights and interests of citizens. But this was still the pre-war stage of de-occupation efforts.
Judging by the news feed on the website (www.ppu.gov.ua), the PPP now pays attention to political prisoners, the “Crimean topic” in President Zelensky’s speeches, and monitoring public sentiment in Crimea. There is no news about the work on the de-occupation strategy on the website.
In addition, on the website you can find a document entitled: “Actual guidelines of state policy regarding the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” from 2020, which outlines the legal basis of the status of Crimea as an occupied territory, as well as instructions for officials and to a lesser extent for citizens about how certain initiatives of the Russian authorities should be understood. This document can be used as a certain basis, but it was not possible to find de-occupation strategies in it.
On the website of the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, you can find a list of the Ministry’s activities for the implementation of the “Strategy for Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol”, which was adopted by the National Security and Defense Council, but this strategy is outdated and does not correspond to military reality . Now the Ministry of Reintegration is busy, as you can understand, primarily with the problems of temporarily displaced persons.
However, one of the latest news on the website is information about the meeting of the Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk regarding Crimea. (https://minre.gov.ua/news/chas–pochynaty–gotuvaty–kadry–dlya–krymu–iryna–vereshchuk) The meeting was attended by the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, representatives of law enforcement agencies and representative of the National Council of Ukrainians of Crimea, representatives of public institutions. According to Iryna Vereshchuk, it is already necessary to prepare a personnel reserve for Crimea, primarily lawyers, employees of law enforcement agencies, and educationists. “The colonizers must leave, the collaborators must respond in accordance with the law, and the seized property of Ukrainians will be returned to their rightful owners,” the ministry’s website quotes the minister as saying.
From this report, it can be concluded that the Ministry of Reintegration of the Ukrainian People’s Liberation Army considers the issue of justice and the shortage of personnel to be the main problems of the deoccupation of Crimea. But what to do with military facilities, the threat of unemployment, profitable enterprises, education and mass media? Iryna Vereshchuk does not answer these questions, at least in the messages of her press service.
But still: for a full-fledged, balanced and effective reintegration, a full-fledged state strategy is necessary, which includes and – the author insists on this – both changes in the existing laws, primarily Article 111-1 of the Criminal Code, and provides for a certain “transitional period”. In addition, mechanisms for adjusting the declared methods should be laid down in it, as Yuriy Smelyansky points out in his articles. And what is equally important – the published strategy will be the subject of significant expert and public discussions, which is necessary in a democratic society, and will also allow changes to be made at the stage of strategy formation and before the start of its implementation, until the moment when it is necessary to act – decisively, coherently and quickly.
Crimean expert, analyst of the “Voice of Crimea” information agency commissioned by the editors of the “Krymska Svitlytsia” newspaper