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Selections from Crimean News, Issue No.19


"Geographic Adventures"

The discussion of problems

Will the President keep his promise to Crimean Tatars?

News from the Mejlis

Invitation to a New Museum


"Geographic Adventures"

A book presentation, "Geographic Adventures" by Eric Kudusov took place at the Gasprinsky Crimean Tatar Republican Library (Simferopol) on August 10. Now a resident of Moscow, Mr. Kudusov has been long interested in the influence of seas and oceans on the shoreline. He was born in 1934 in Kerch (Crimea), and his family moved to Kazan prior to WWII. After graduating from the Faculty of Geography, Moscow University, he taught at the Far East University. Later he joined the faculty of Kazan University and participated in expeditions to Kamchatka and Caspian Sea. He wrote more than 50 books. For his anti-Communist activities, he spent four years in Soviet prisons (1983-87). Mr. Kudusov is a well-known supporter of the Crimean Tatar National Movement and serves as head of the Crimean Tatar national group in Moscow.

Ibraim Abdullaev, newspaper "Golos Kryma" ("Voice of Crimea"), No. 34 (301), 20 August 1999, p. 2.

The discussion of problems

On August 11, Mustafa Dzhemilev, Chairman of the Mejlis, met with Sergey Kunicyn, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, and Andrey Korneychuk, Representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea.

The main topic of discussion was the implementation of the Council's Decree relating to the Solution of the Crimean Tatar Problems. It was reported that 27 houses, furnished with electricity and natural gas, have been completed and are ready to use. The question about quotas for Crimean Tatars entering the universities has also been discussed with the Ministry of Education of Ukraine. In the city of Bakchisaray, there is now a school that instructs in the Crimean Tatar language, and in Belogorsk, the Crimean Tatar school No.4 with 2 levels has been upgraded to 3 levels.

Mejlis Information Service, newspaper "Golos Kryma" ("Voice of Crimea"), No.34 (301), 20 August 1999, p.2.

Will the President keep his promise to Crimean Tatars?

On August 12, President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine met with the Council of the Representatives of the Crimean Tatar People (consisting of the members of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People)*.

A wide variety of issues relating to Crimean Tatars has been discussed. Naturally, the key topic was the question of granting Ukrainian citizenship to formerly deported people. In Crimea, a procedure has been successfully implemented, but in Uzbekistan it has just been put in place, thanks to Ali Khamzin, the Mejlis's representative in Central Asia. Although there is an agreement between Presidents of Ukraine and Uzbekistan on simplifying the procedure for formerly deported Crimean Tatars to change their citizenship, it expires on 31 December 1999.

There are many factors that slow the process of receiving the Ukrainian citizenship. Crimean Tatars, for example, have to pay consular fees: $50 for receiving the Ukrainian passport and $10 for staying on the consular list.

Yet, the average monthly salary in Uzbekistan is $15. Because of the high cost of obtaining an Ukrainian passport some Crimean Tatars became stateless people after losing their Uzbekistan citizenship. Mustafa Dzhemilev, Chairman of the Mejlis, asked President Kuchma to extend the agreement for at least another year, assuming that deported Crimean Tatars sooner or later will return to Crimea.

Another topic of discussion was the question of government employment. Recently, Crimean Tatars have been dismissed systematically and squeezed out of state offices. The number of indigenous people in the executive branch of the government is 1.5%, but Crimean Tatars make up 12% of the population in Crimea. Following the May demonstrations, an agreement was reached with Sergey Kunicyn, Chair of the Council of Ministers, about the appointment of Crimean Tatars in some regional state administrations. Yet the situation has not changed. During the meeting with President Kuchma, Kunicyn stressed once more his intention to solve this problem.

The Mejlis members brought to the attention of the Government the violation by Ukraine of the Bishkek Agreement, which was ratified by Ukrainian Parliament in 1993. For instance, the establishment of the visa procedure, consular fees, and payments for documents of formerly deported peoples are violating the Articles 3 and 9 of the Bishkek Agreement. Also they brought up the fact that during the parliamentary elections last year a large group of indigenous people could not vote because they lacked the Ukrainian citizenship. This also contradicts Article 1 of the international treaty. Mustafa Dzhemilev suggested that a Presidential Decree be issued,

which would bring state policies in compliance with the Bishkek Agreement concerning deported peoples.

Among the most frequent problems faced by Crimean Tatars are the following: opening of Crimean Tatar

schools, restoring the work of the "Krym Yurt" Bank, recognition of Crimean school diplomas by Ukraine and Turkey, speedy return of religious buildings to communities, and removal of the mental hospital from the ground of the Zindzirli Medrese.** The President of Ukraine showed understanding of the problems and promised to solve them accordingly. In September, there will be a parliamentary hearing on the draft legislation relating to the Status of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine. Whether the elected deputies be politically wise and humane then, it is hard to say now. But it is clear that the future of the democratic Ukraine will depend on the solution of these problems.

E.Adil-oglu, newspaper "Golos Kryma" ("Voice of Crimea"), No.34 (301), 20August 1999, p. 2

Our note:

* The Council of the Representatives of Crimean Tatar People has been created according to a Presidental Decree issued in May 1999, and now is an advisory body under the President.

** Zindzirli Medrese is an historic Crimean Tatar institution of higher learning that was well-known in the East. Many well-known scientists, poets, philosophers, and actors were graduates of this school. After the establishment of the Soviet power by the Bolsheviks, Medrese was closed, and the building became a mental hospital.

News from the Mejlis

Mejlis chairman M. Dzhemilev met with Mr. Merlin Udho, Coordinator of the U.N. Crimea Development and Integration Program (UNCDIP) on August 18. The Program's Consultants also took part in the meeting. During the meeting, Mr. Udho announced preparations by UNCDIP to launch a "round table" discussion board on the problems of deported peoples and announced the Program's plan to invite Mr. Dzemilev to participate.

Mejlis Information Service "Kirim" ("Crimea"), No.34 (531), 21 August 1999, p. 1.

Invitation to a New Museum

The first private ethnographic museum in Ukraine opened in Stary Krym on August 12. Situated in an old house, the museum includes exhibits on the history, culture, and life of Crimean Tatars. One of the museum's rooms contains works by the painter Nuri Yakubov, which depict beautiful Crimean scenes and episodes from current Crimean Tatar life. The museum's organizers state that it will be a good example of the restoration of Crimean Tatar culture and will help those who are interested in Crimean Tatar history.

R.Baltadzi, newspaper "Kirim" ("Crimea"), No.34 (531), 21 August 1999, p. 8.