17:57 GMT19 February 2020
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    Commenting on the Ukrainian authorities' recent announcement that they would seek to guarantee local autonomy for Crimean Tatars under the country's revised constitution, political scientist Alexander Formanchuk told Russia's RIA Novosti that the proposal demonstrates the total and utter failure of Kiev's strategy for returning Crimea to Ukraine.

    On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appeared before the country's parliament, asking the Constitutional Commission to grant Crimean Tatars autonomy in the country's revised constitution following a series of legislative amendments.

    "I ask the Constitutional Commission, in the later stages of its work, to listen to the leaders of the Crimean Tatar people and to stipulate that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as an integral part of Ukraine, should be a national territorial subdivision through which the Crimean Tatar people exercise their right to self-determination," Poroshenko stated.

    Commenting on the president's words, Formanchuk, the director of the Crimean branch of the Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, told RIA Novosti that the statement demonstrates Kiev's utter powerlessness in realizing its strategy of returning Crimea to Ukraine. 

    "This is a demonstration of the powerlessness of Ukraine's nationalist ruling class, brought on by its inability to implement the so-called strategy on the return of Crimea to Ukraine," Formanchuk noted. "Crimea today is Russian territory, and lives under Russian law and according to its own constitution, where the rights of the Crimean Tatar people are guaranteed," he added.

    Noting that Poroshenko's pronouncements on territorial autonomy are factually aimed at radicalizing Crimea's Tatar minority, and at enticing them to act as Kiev's agents, Formanchuk stated that there is zero possibility for such plans to be realized. 

    "Crimea cannot be considered to be a territory of Russia as a national-territorial entity of the Crimean Tatars," the expert explained. "Crimean Tatars live their lives, and are coming to realize more and more the futility of such incitements, given that their rights and guarantees are provided for" under the peninsula's current constitution and laws.

    The political scientist pointed out that the Crimean Tatar language is considered a state language on the territory of the Republic of Crimea, explained that the minority has guarantees to government representation, and recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the Crimean Tatars' rehabilitation shortly after Crimea's return to Russia. The president's decree was aimed at righting the wrongs committed against the Crimean Tatar minority under Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin, who deported the minority en masse to Central Asia during the Second World War.

    Formanchuk explained that Crimean and federal authorities have guaranteed the minority's rights in numerous smaller ways as well, providing Tatars seeking to make a pilgrimage to Mecca with financial assistance, and making Muslim holidays state holidays on the territory of the republic, something which never occurred in all the years that Crimea was a part of Ukraine.

    This week's move by the Ukrainian president is not the first time that authorities have attempted to pass 'phantom' laws over Crimea since it decided to break off from Ukraine to join Russia. Last month, authorities announced the creation of a special 'Crimean' police force, along with a prosecutor's office. Based in Ukrainian regions neighboring Crimea and in Kiev, these organs are now formally tasked with collecting information about the crimes taking place on the peninsula. Also last month, Ukraine's State Service of Geology and Mineral Resources 'prohibited' Crimea from exploiting its mineral wealth. 

    Furthermore, in May, Ukraine's parliament unilaterally 'renamed' a series of place names in Crimea, including the Simferopol International Airport. Local authorities on the peninsula simply ignored Kiev's decree. As far back as August 2014, five months after Crimea's declaration of independence from Ukraine, the Rada passed a phantom law on the creation of a special economic zone on the peninsula.

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    Tags:
    regional autonomy, autonomy, ethnic minority, expert opinion, Crimean Tatars, Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, Alexander Formanchuk, Crimea, Ukraine
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