Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Autonomous Republic of Crimea
"Нивы и горы твои волшебны, Родина" (Russian)
Nivy i gory tvoi volshebny, Rodina (transliteration)
Your fields and mountains are magical, Motherland
Location of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (red)
in Ukraine (light yellow)
Location of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (light yellow)
in the Crimean Peninsula
|Status||Government in exile|
and largest city
|Official languages||Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean Tatar|
|Ethnic groups |
|12 February 1991|
|20 February 2014[nb 1]|
|18 March 2014|
|26,100 km2 (10,100 sq mi)|
• 2001 census
|77.9/km2 (201.8/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||UA-43|
The Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukrainian: Автономна Республіка Крим, Avtonomna Respublika Krym; Russian: Автономная Республика Крым, Avtonomnaya Respublika Krym; Crimean Tatar: Qırım Muhtar Cumhuriyeti) is, de jure, an autonomous republic of Ukraine encompassing most of Crimea that was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014.
Crimea was historically under the control of the Russian Empire from 1783 to 1917 and Soviet Union from 1918 to 1991. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War (7 November 1917 – 25 October 1922), it was established in 1921 as the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in the USSR. During World War II, Crimea was downgraded to the Crimean Oblast after its entire indigenous population, the Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia, an act recognized as a genocide by Ukraine and 3 other countries. In 1954, it was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR from the Russian SFSR. Later, following a referendum on 20 January 1991, it was upgraded to the status of an autonomous republic within the Ukrainian SSR. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Ukraine became an independent country, Crimea remained part of the newly independent Ukraine.
In February 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that ousted the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, pro-Russian separatists and Russian Armed Forces took over the territory. A controversial Crimea-wide referendum, unconstitutional under the Ukrainian and Crimean constitutions, was held on the issue of union with Russia which official results indicated was supported by a large majority of Crimeans. Russia formally annexed Crimea on 18 March 2014, incorporating the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol as the 84th and 85th federal subjects of Russia. While Russia and 17 other UN member states recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation, Ukraine continues to claim Crimea as an integral part of its territory, supported by most foreign governments and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262.
Crimea first came under Russian control in 1783 when the Crimean Khanate was annexed by the Russian Empire and this was formally recognised in 1792 when the peninsula was ceded to Russia by the Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Jassy reaffirming the 1783 Russo-Turkish agreement on recognition of Crimea as a Russian territory. Thereafter, Russian rule in Crimea spanned a period of 171 years, punctuated by short periods during political upheavals and wars, which ended on 19 February 1954 when the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree administratively transferring the Crimean Oblast from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, within the Soviet Union on the basis of "the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR.":
Following a referendum on 20 January 1991 in which over 94% backed the proposal, the Crimean Oblast was upgraded to the status of an autonomous republic on 12 February 1991 by the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine became an independent country, Crimea remained a republic within the newly independent Ukraine leading to tensions between Russia and Ukraine as the Black Sea Fleet was based on the peninsula.
On 26 February 1992, the Crimean parliament renamed the ASSR the Republic of Crimea. It then proclaimed self-government on 5 May 1992 with a referendum, for approval, planned for the August (which, in the event, was never conducted) and also passed the first Crimean constitution. The following day, the same parliament inserted a new sentence into this constitution that declared that Crimea was part of Ukraine and then, on 19 May, it annulled its proclamation of self-government after the Ukrainian government expanded on the republic's already extensive autonomous status.:587 The following year, on 14 October 1993, the Crimean parliament established the post of President of Crimea.
On 17 March 1995, the parliament of Ukraine abolished the Crimean Constitution of 1992, all the laws and decrees contradicting those of Kiev, and also removed Yuriy Meshkov, the then President of Crimea, along with the office itself. After an interim constitution, the 1998 Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was put into effect, changing the territory's name to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
Following the ratification of the May 1997 Russian–Ukrainian Friendship Treaty, in which Russia recognized Ukraine's borders and sovereignty over Crimea, international tensions slowly eased. However, in 2006, anti-NATO protests broke out on the peninsula. In September 2008, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko accused Russia of giving out Russian passports to the population in Crimea and described it as a "real problem" given Russia's declared policy of military intervention abroad to protect Russian citizens.
On 24 August 2009, anti-Ukrainian demonstrations were held in Crimea by ethnic Russian residents. Sergei Tsekov (of the Russian Bloc and then deputy speaker of the Crimean parliament) said then that he hoped that Russia would treat Crimea the same way as it had treated South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The 2010 Ukrainian–Russian Naval Base for Natural Gas treaty extended Russia's lease on naval facilities in Crimea until 2042, with optional five-year renewals.
Crimea voted strongly for the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions in presidential and parliamentary elections, and his ousting on 22 February 2014 during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution was followed by a push by pro-Russian protesters for Crimea to secede from Ukraine and seek assistance from Russia. Four days later, thousands of pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine protesters clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol.
On 28 February 2014, Russian forces occupied airports and other strategic locations in Crimea though the Russian foreign ministry stated that "movement of the Black Sea Fleet armored vehicles in Crimea (...) happens in full accordance with basic Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the Black Sea Fleet". Gunmen, either armed militants or Russian special forces, occupied the Crimean parliament and, under armed guard with doors locked, members of parliament elected Sergey Aksyonov as the new Crimean Prime Minister. Aksyonov then said that he asserted sole control over Crimea's security forces and appealed to Russia "for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness" on the peninsula. The interim Government of Ukraine described events as an invasion and occupation and did not recognize the Aksyonov administration as legal. Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich sent a letter to Putin asking him to use military force in Ukraine to restore law and order and, on 1 March, the Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to use such force. Three days later, several Ukrainian bases and navy ships in Crimea reported being intimidated by Russian forces and Ukrainian warships were also effectively blockaded in Sevastopol.
On 6 March, the Crimean Parliament asked the Russian government for the region to become a subject of the Russian Federation with a Crimea-wide referendum on the issue set for 16 March. The Ukrainian government, the European Union, and the US all challenged the legitimacy of the request and of the proposed referendum as Article 73 of the Constitution of Ukraine states: "Alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by an All-Ukrainian referendum." International monitors arrived in Ukraine to assess the situation but were halted by armed militants at the Crimean border.
The 16 March referendum required voters to choose between "Do you support rejoining Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation?" and "Do you support restoration of the 1992 Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine?" There was no option on the ballot to maintain the status quo. However, support for the second question would have restored the Republic's autonomous status within Ukraine. The official turnout for the referendum was 83%, and the overwhelming majority of those who voted (95.5%) supported the option of rejoining Russia. However, a BBC reporter claimed that a huge number of Tatars and Ukrainians had abstained from the vote.
Following the referendum, the members of the Supreme Council voted to rename themselves the State Council of the Republic of Crimea and also formally appealed to Russia to accept Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. This was granted and on 18 March 2014 the self-proclaimed Republic of Crimea signed a treaty of accession to the Russian Federation though the accession was granted separately for each of the former regions that composed it: one accession for the Republic of Crimea, and another for Sevastopol as a federal city. On 24 March 2014 the Ukrainian government ordered the full withdrawal of all of its armed forces from Crimea and two days later the last Ukrainian military bases and Ukrainian navy ships were captured by Russian troops.[nb 2]
Ukraine, meanwhile, continues to claim Crimea as its territory and in 2015 the Ukrainian parliament designated 20 February 2014 as the (official) date of the start of "the temporary occupation of Crimea." On 27 March 2014 100 United Nations member states voted for United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 affirming the General Assembly's commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders while 11 member states voted against, 58 abstained and 24 member states absented. Since then 6 countries (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea) have publicly recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea while others have stated support for the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum.
Government and administration
Executive power in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was exercised by the Council of Ministers of Crimea, headed by a Chairman, appointed and dismissed by the Supreme Council of Crimea, with the consent of the President of Ukraine. Though not an official body, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People could address grievances to the Ukrainian central government, the Crimean government, and international bodies.
Major centres of urban development:
An administrative reform, enacted by the Verkhovna Rada on 17 July 2020, envisages redivision of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea into 10 enlarged raions (districts), into which cities (municipalities) of republican significance will be absorbed. Delayed until return of the peninsula under Ukrainian control, the reform envisages the following subdivision of the republic:
- Bakhchysarai Raion (Bağçasaray rayonı) — composed of Bakhchysarai Raion and parts of territory that earlier was subordinated to the Sevastopol municipality (without the Sevastopol city proper and also without Balaklava as such that exists within the Sevastopol city limits within the framework of Ukrainian legislation),
- Bilohirsk Raion (Qarasuvbazar rayonı) — composed of Bilohirsk and Nyzhniohirsk raions,
- Dzhankoi Raion (Canköy rayonı) — composed of Dzhankoi Raion and former Dzhankoi municipality,
- Yevpatoria Raion (Kezlev rayonı) — composed of Saky and Chornomorske raions and former Yevpatoria and Saky municipalities,
- Kerch Raion (Keriç rayonı) — composed of Lenine Raion and former Kerch municipality,
- Kurman Raion (Qurman rayonı) — composed of Krasnohvardiysky and Pervomaisk raions,
- Perekop Raion (Or Qapı rayonı) — composed of Krasnoperekopsk and Rozdolne raions, former Armiansk and Krasnoperekopsk municipalities,
- Simferopol Raion (Aqmescit rayonı) — composed of Simferopol Raion and former Simferopol municipality,
- Feodosia Raion (Kefe rayonı) — composed of Kirovske and Sovietskyi raions, former Feodosia and Sudak municipalities,
- Yalta Raion (Yalta rayonı) — composed of former Yalta and Alushta municipalities.
- In 2015 the Ukrainian parliament officially set 20 February 2014 as the date of "the beginning of the temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia."
- (Also) on 24 March 2014, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated that approximately 50% of the Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea had defected to the Russian military.
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I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea
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Organizing and holding the referendum on Crimea's accession to Russia was illegal under the Ukrainian constitution. Article 2 of the constitution establishes that "Ukraine shall be a unitary state" and that the "territory of Ukraine within its present border is indivisible and inviolable". This is confirmed in regard to Crimea by Chapter X of the constitution, which provides for the autonomous status of Crimea. Article 134 sets forth that Crimea is an "inseparable constituent part of Ukraine". The autonomous status provides Crimea with a certain set of authorities and allows, inter alia, to hold referendums. These rights are, however, limited to local matters. The constitution makes clear that alterations to the territory of Ukraine require an all-Ukrainian referendum.
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- ark.gp.gov.ua, website of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (in Ukrainian)
- www.rada.crimea.ua, website of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (in Ukrainian and Russian)
- Series about the recent political history of Crimea by the Independent Analytical Centre for Geopolitical Studies "Borysfen Intel"