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Commemorating the 5-Year Anniversary of the Russian and Crimean Reunion

Commemorating the 5-Year Anniversary of the Russian and Crimean Reunion

Russians are currently celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol’s reunion with Russia. For the residents of Crimea, this event marked the ending of their long journey home. Crimeans were at last able to make their own decision on their destiny. The historic reunion of Crimea and Russia occurred as a result of the referendum conducted on March 16th, 2014, where Crimean people expressed their will. Speculations of all sorts and blatant libel regarding this truly historical event keep being disseminated. We believe it is important to recall once again how it all happened. We hope that Mongolian readers will be rather interested to get to know about it as well –

After the Great Patriotic War ended (1941-1945), the Crimean Autonomy, being a part of the Russian SFSR, was transformed into the Crimean Region, which then, in 1954, without any referendums and in violation of the USSR law effective back then, was simply transferred administratively to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian SSR. It was done by N.S.Khruschev, while he was the 1st Secretary of the USSR Communist party Central Committee, on the occasion of the 300-year anniversary of Ukrainian reunion with Russia as a present for Ukraine, which he used to be the head of.

 In 1991, at the time of the USSR dissolution, Crimeans tried to take matters into their own hands, held the referendum and, by the majority of 93%, voted in favour of restoring their autonomous status within the USSR administrative structure in the form of the Republic. Back then, owing to complicated political transformations, Crimea was left within Ukraine. Nonetheless, it is in that period that the background for the future “Crimean spring” was laid. Finally, in 2014, after the government in Kiev was toppled and personalities with anti-Russian sentiments came to power in Ukraine, in the result of this free democratic expression of will, 97% of Crimeans spoke in favour of reunion with Russia. They demonstrated to the whole world what real, rather than pretended, democracy was.

On March 18th, 2014, an agreement to include Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation was singed, thus, the people of Crimea exercised their legitimate right for self-determination. It was exercised in full compliance with international law – the UN Charter and other international documents, including the Helsinki Accords of the CSCE. From that moment on, the question of the territorial belonging of Crimea was closed.

It is important to highlight that Russia did not violate the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances signed in 1994, for which the current Ukrainian government is constantly trying to accuse Russia. The essence of the document signed by Russia, Ukraine, the UK, and the USA is the following: the signatories agreed to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of the latter relating to the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its obligation to remove all nuclear arsenal from its territory.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly stated that the commitments adopted by Russia under the Budapest Memorandum refer solely to the inadmissibility of the threat of use of nuclear weapons, while all other articles of this document coincide with the provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The situation in Crimea has been entailed only by the inner-Ukrainian processes, which have nothing to do with Russia and the Budapest Memorandum. Moreover, Ukrainian authorities have completely forgotten that in Budapest a Joint declaration of the leaders of Russia, Great Britain, the USA and Ukraine was signed alongside with the Memorandum. This declaration includes the obligations to counteract the growth of aggressive nationalism and chauvinism. As it was noted in one of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry statements, “it is these utterly negative phenomena in Ukrainian politics that have led to Crimea’s secession.  The Budapest Memorandum does not impose on Russia obligations to force Crimea to remain part of Ukraine.” As we see, the Russian position is unambiguous and from the point of view of international law– indisputable.

The Crimean people’s will expressed back in 2014 has allowed them to avoid the atrocities of civil war, which is exactly what Kiev’s authorities have been doing for almost five years now in Donbas. The reports of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine testify to the shocking state of affairs in this region continuing owing to Kiev’s role. It seems like Kiev aims to return the territories, rather than people living in them.

After the events of the “Crimean spring”, the peninsula has, in effect, gone through the “transition period”. The real salaries for employees of government-financed organizations, pensions, allowances have been raised two-fold compared to Ukraine. Despite the existing problems, the region’s development at the pace twice faster than the average across the country is evident, though the economic indices are still “adjusting” to the averages in Russia. Since 2015, the middle-term Federal special-purpose program “Social and economic development of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol until 2022”, with funding of more than 1 bln rubles, has been carried out. As of January 2019, the Republic has concluded 57 agreements on cooperation with other Russian regions. Before 2014, about 5.5 mln tourists visited Crimea annually, while in 2018 more than 6.5 mln people travelled there. It is noted that after the Crimean Bridge was opened to car traffic in May 2018, the number of tourists has increased by 20-25%. Simultaneously the structure of the tourist flow has changed. Now around 85% of tourists in Crimea are Russian citizens (before 2014 their share constituted only 50%). Besides, a large-scale reconstruction of the Crimea’s pearl, the world-known international children’s camp “Artek”, is on the agenda.

In terms of religion, the Republic of Crimea is one of the most diverse Russian regions. There are more than a thousand religious communities. Orthodoxy and Islam are dominant religions in Crimea. In this regard, the destiny of Crimean Tatars is remarkable. Their powerless position did not worry the West much when the Crimea was part of Ukraine that ignored the recommendations of international human rights organizations. Modern Russia had to fix the dreadful situation in this sphere after more than two decades of human rights violation and discrimination against the Crimean Tatars. Today The Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Crimea and Sevastopol works actively in the Republic. Moreover, Crimean schoolchildren are completely free in their choice of the language of study – Russian, Ukrainian or Crimean-Tatar.

The IV Yalta International Economic Forum took a special place among the events with foreign participants conducted in Crimea in 2018 becoming the main platform for discussing the promising areas among the current Crimea-related issues within an international context. The forum gathered 612 foreign participants from 71 countries. 70 agreements and memorandums for more than 162 bln rubles of investment were signed on the forum’s margins. Regular summer and winter sessions of the international Livadia forum of experts in political science are also to be noted. The Republic of Crimea is continuing to work actively on establishing inter-municipal cooperation with foreign states.

Therefore, the passing of time has confirmed that the residents of Crimea have made the right choice. At the same time, it is safe to say that its integration into the common political, legal, social and economic space of Russia has been finished. Of course, more still needs to be done for the development of both Sevastopol and Crimea at large. The work continues.

Embassy of the Russian Federation in Mongolia