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Crimean News Issue #2


LEONID GRACH: "The order in Crimea will prevail!"

The 14th of April is the anniversary of the special police sub-unit Berkut (Golden Eagle), which is under the control of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. At a meeting dedicated to the anniversary, Leonid Grach, the Speaker of the Verchovnaya Rada of Crimea (Crimean Parliament) offered an analysis of the political situation and described Crimea's path through "steps of criminalization" in recent years, when "crime and corruption penetrated all spheres of public life" and "infiltrated the cabinets of power."

Leonid Grach described the present situation in the Crimean Autonomous Republic as a struggle for "who will beat whom?" He pointed out the society's need to "find the strength within itself thorough the law, thorough the power structures" in order to establish order. He also expressed his belief that "the order will eventually prevail."

Galina Mamyko, Krymskie Izvestia (Crimean News) No. 77 (1828), 20 April 1999, p.2.

Our note: Berkut (Golden Eagle) is the military police structure under the control of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, intended mainly for fighting organized crime.


POLICY IN CAMOUFLAGE

Last March, one of the Crimean TV companies showed the Speaker of the Crimean Parliament being outfitted in a modern knight armor-- in a military camouflage uniform. In fact, he was participating in a "planned" exercises of the special sub-unit "SpecNaz" created to fight terrorism. These exercises, supposed to be "absolutely accidental," happen to coincide with a series of demonstrations by Crimean Tatars, who are dissatisfied with the present political situation in Crimea and the Crimean Constitution that "SpecNaz" is intended to protect. Commenting on the occasion, Speaker of the Parliament Grach said, in a rather threatening tone: "We wouldn't allow anyone to disturb the peace and order of the existing government on the peninsula." And the military officer standing by Mr. Grach added: "...give us a reason--we will crash!"

Lately, in view of the recent events in Kosovo, our Speaker is becoming more and more self-confident and hawkish in his behavior. He is speaking of "slaps in the face" by NATO (given to him twice). Taking the actions of NATO personally, perhaps he will throw the knight's glove back in the face of the block (NATO) that went too far. Very simple--just use the experience of the Yugoslavian dictator Milosevich in ethnic cleansing here in Crimea. Whatever happens the consequences will be grave. Crimean Tatars don't have any other motherland outside of the peninsula, so they have only one way....

Meanwhile, We, the Crimean Tatars, who are now standing on the land of our ancestors and shall be here tomorrow, are patiently holding onto our traditional non-violent ways and seeking the restoration of all our rights.

Dzh. Ablamitov, Kirim (Crimea) No 17 (514 ), 24 April 1999, p.4.


NEWS FROM THE MEJLIS

On April 14, M. Dzhemilev, Chairman of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People, met with the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister V. Smoliy. The main topics of discussion were subsidizing the housing for Crimean Tatars and providing office spaces for Crimean Tatar NGOs in Simferopol and Crimean Tatar Cultural-Informational Center in Kiev.

On April 15, R. Ablaev, the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis, met with S. Safonov, an expert from the Ukraine Foundation, an office within the Ukrainian government. Mr. Safonov was interested in Mejlis's plans for social-economic changes taking place in Crimea and Ukraine, as well as the problems of repatriation and the settlement of Crimean Tatars. A wide range of problems was discussed during the meeting. R. Ablaev answered the expert's questions and stressed the fact that certain political powers are actively resisting the normal integration of Crimean Tatar people in all spheres of public life. As an example, he brought up the fact that Crimean Tatar Deputies are absent in the Crimean Parliament, while Crimean Tatars constitute 12% of the population. In his evaluation of the social-economic situation of Crimean Tatars, he emphasized the deficiency in financial support from the Program for the Return and Settlement of Crimean Tatars. He also stated that the Mejlis is doing all it can to involve several international organizations in assisting the settlement of Crimean Tatars.

On April 17, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People met to review the questions concerning the planned demonstrations to mark the 55th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars. The Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis and the leader of the committee in charge of planning the demonstrations (Dzh. Ablamitov) also discussed the results of the Crimean Tatar protests in the regions of Sudak, Alushta, and Kirov in March, as well as the demonstration that took place on April 8.

The Mejlis is concerned with the questions of public awareness of the planned demonstrations and the security of individuals participating in the march.

The Press-Service of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People, Golos Kryma (The Voice of Crimea), No 17 (284), 23 April 1999, p. 1.

Our note: The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is the plenipotentiary representative body of Crimean Tatars. It was democratically elected for the first time in June 1991 during the National Congress, the second Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People. The Mejlis is not legally recognized by the state bodies of Ukraine and the Crimean Autonomous Republic. But in practice the state government often takes into consideration the views of the Mejlis and cooperates with it on number of issues relating to Crimean Tatars.


CLINTON PROVIDED A REASON

A meeting commemorating the 216th anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by Russia was held at the Nahimov Square in Sevastopol. Sponsored by the regional organization of All Crimean Movement of Voters for the Crimean Republic, the meeting began with a strong condemnation of NATO's aggression in Yugoslavia. The participants passed a resolution urging to unify the patriotic forces in Crimea and to introduce a referendum on the status of Sevastopol.

Yuriy Alekseev, Krymskoe Vremya (Crimean Time) No 73 (694), 21 April 1999, p. 2.

Our note: All Crimean Movement of Voters for the Crimean Republic is an organization supported by Russian patriotic groups. Their main aim is to strengthen the Russian influence in Crimea and to unify the peninsula with Russia by the means of a referendum.


THE DAY OF RUSSIA IN CRIMEA

On April 18, a meeting was held in Simferopol to observe the 216th anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Empire. The organizers of the meeting were the Congress of Russian Communities of Crimea and the Russian National Congress.

The leader of the Russian National Congress, Sergey Shuvaynikov, explained the goals of his organization and asked that April 19 be considered as the Day of Russia in Crimea, the historical date of the Russian annexation. "If Crimean Tatars remember the creation of our own autonomy on the peninsula, so should do the Russians living in Crimea," said Sergey Shuvaynikov. He also affirmed the readiness to create a "Russian Army of Crimea" that would be sent to help brotherly Yugoslavia.

V. Vasilyev, Krymskaya Pravda (Crimean Truth) No 71 (22243), 20 April 1999, p. 1.

Our note: The Congress of Russian Communities of Crimea and the Russian National Congress are radical chauvinist organizations, actively promoting the slogan of "Slavic Unity."


BURNING OF THE DECREE BECOMES ROUTINE

On April 18, a group of people gathered in front of the Crimean Parliament tore to pieces the Decree of 1954, Joining Crimea to Ukraine. The Russian National Congress and Russian Communities of Crimea initiated this move. On April 8, Crimean Tatars had demanded the creation of Crimean Tatar national autonomy in Crimea. Ten days later Russians claimed the right to "Russian" national autonomy in Crimea.

Alexander Mashenko, Krymskoe Vremya (Crimean Time) No 72 (693), 20 April 1999, p. 3.


THE VOICE OF MR. VAN DER STOEL WAS NOT HEARD

On April 19, Leonid Grach, Speaker of the Crimean Parliament, met with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max Van der Stoel, who was visiting Crimea. Mr. Grach noted that the long legal fight with the officials in Kiev ended with the acceptance of the Constitution of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. According to official sources, however, he is really concerned about the march on Simferopol planned by Crimean Tatars to observe the 55th anniversary of the deportation. "The Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People is acting without legal status. And I'm really worried about the feelings of national radicalism manifested at the April 8 meeting," said Mr. Grach, "... this is a way to nowhere, and it could mount to a conflict."

The Speaker of the Parliament indicated that in the next few days a group of specialists would go to Crimean Tatar settlements in order to become familiar with the situation and to establish a constructive dialogue with the population. Mr. Van der Stoel also met with Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Kunicyn. Toward the end, all journalists were asked to leave the room, and the rest of the meeting continued behind closed doors. The views of the other side could not be heard.

Gulnara Chilingirova, Golos Kryma (The Voice of Crimea) No 17 (284), 23 April 1999, p. 1.


AND AKSAKALS DREAMING ABOUT FRIENDSHIP

Speaker of the Parliament Leonid Grach met with the Crimean Tatar Aksakals (elders) in the Verchovnaya Rada of Crimea (Crimean Parliament). Participants were the members of the Presidium and the Council of Ministers of Crimea Deputies Lentun Bezeziev and Sergey Velizanskiy. The latter is in charge of inter-ethnic relations and heads the Republic's Committee on the Deported Peoples and Nationalities.

During the meeting, the discussion focused on the problems involving the settlement of the Crimean Tatar people and the criteria for selecting staff, based on the candidate's professional qualities and not on his national origin. But the main issue was the Crimean Tatar protests, planned for the 18th of May, the 55th anniversary of the deportation of the Tatar population. Leonid Grach urged all participants and all Crimean Tatar people to have a constructive discussion on compounding problems. He stated: "Crimea is our home, and all people who settled here have to find a common language and live in peace, friendship, and harmony." Earlier he had signed a decree, creating the Council of Aksakals under the Speaker of the Verchovnaya Rada of Crimea (Crimean Parliament).

Î. Kulakovskaya, Krymskie Izvestiya (Crimean News) 78 (1829), 21 April 1999.

Our note: The Council of Aksakals was created with the initiative of Leonid Grach in January 1999. It consists of a small group of Crimean Tatars, who are loyal to the communists in Crimea and oppose the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.


IN FOUNTAINS THERE WILL BE ROADS!

On April 17, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Kunicyn visited Fountains, a micro-region of Simferopol where 920 Crimean Tatar families live.

The residents complained about the condition of the roads, lack of electric and natural gas services, and problems with water. After listening to the complaints, Sergey Kunicyn said that all these problems could not be solved within a year. Constructing a 16- kilometer gravel road alone requires 400,000 Grivnas ($US 100,000). He noted that in the current year the government could fill the potholes in main streets, supply electricity to Prigorodnaya Street, and establish phone lines. There are also plans to bring natural gas to the community and finish the sewage system.

Gulnara Chilingirova, Golos Kryma (The Voice of Crimea) No 17 (284), 23 April 1999, p. 1.


PRIME MINISTER VISITS ALUSHTA

On April 20, Crimean Prime Minister S. Kunicyn and his Deputy visited the Alushta region. They first went to the village of Verkhnyaya Kutuzovka, inhabited mostly by Crimean Tatars. During his visit with residents, Prime Minister discussed the problems of water, roads, and poor hygienic conditions that give rise to the spread of disease among the population. He urged them to solve their problems peacefully and remain calm during the commemorative activities on May 18. He also expressed his concern for increasing inter-ethnic tensions, which could in their turn ruin the summer tourist season. In Mr. Kunicyn's estimate, solving all problems of the deported people would require about $US 1.5 billion but only $US 5 million has been allocated. After answering the residents' questions, the Prime Minister promised to do all he can to address their problems. At the same time, the Alushta Mayor S. Kolot announced that the village will be included in the fiscal budget.

R. Alimov, Yani Dunya (New World) No 16 (466), 24 April 1999, p. 2.


RENOVATION OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR LIBRARY

The renovation of the Gasprinsky Crimean Tatar Library in Simferopol is nearing completion. Located on 8 Samokisha Street, the Library occupies the building of the former Mektebe-rushdie, an Islamic school from the 19th century. The reconstruction is a part of the project Revival of the Crimean Tatar Library, which is financed by several international organizations. The project was first initiated in 1994 by Mehmet Tutuncu, Director of the Turkistan-Azerbaijan Research Center in Haarlem (the Netherlands). Sponsors of the project are: The Netherlands government, providing $US 240,000, and the International Renaissance Foundation, donating $US 145,000. So far, $220,000 has been spent on the project, which also includes library automation, funding for books, publication of six books on Crimean Tatar culture, and training for the library staff. Restoration work began in September 1998 and is expected to be finished on May 7. At present, the Library inventory has more than 12,000 volumes, including 3,000 books in the Crimean Tatar language and 1,300 rare books.

Gulnara Chilingirova, Golos Kryma (The Voice of Crimea) No 17 (284), 23 April 1999, p. 1.


EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS

The employment statistics for Crimea are not in women's favor. Every third unemployed is a 28-year old, and 68.6% of the unemployed are women. The unemployment rate is also going up.

V.Perfiliev, Krymskie Izvestiya (Crimean News) No 79 (1830) 22 April 1999, p. 5.

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