Former Constitutional Judge Mykola Kozyubra: Crimea Will Not Be Able to Exercise Its Right to Self-Determination After It Becomes Part of the Russian Federation

Former Constitutional Judge Mykola Kozyubra: Crimea Will Not Be Able to Exercise Its Right to Self-Determination After It Becomes Part of the Russian Federation
March 17, 2014.

Kyiv, 17 March 2014 – “The intention of the so-called Crimean Republic to join the Russian Federation entails that, after it becomes part of the Russian Federation, Crimea will no longer be able to exercise a similar right”, said Mykola Kozyubra, a retired judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine at a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. 

Kozyubra said that the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on the referendum in Crimea was beyond any doubt a well-grounded one. “The ruling has confirmed that the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea contravenes a number of articles of the Constitution of Ukraine, in particular its general provisions.” Mr. Kozyubra emphasized that any issues related to the territorial integrity of the state may only be considered at an all-national level.

The lawyer believes that while the organizers referred to the nations’ right to self-determination to justify the Crimean referendum, there are no cases in the European practice where this right would be used the way it was interpreted by Russia. In particular, the Russian Constitution does not provide for the secession of federal subjects from the Russian Federation. Thus, in case of joining the Russian Federation, Crimea will not be able to secede. In addition, the very notion of the “people of Crimea” remains unclear.

“The only national community in Crimea that could claim the status of indigenous people is the Crimean Tatars”, said Mr. Kozyubra. According to him, article 11 of the Constitution of Ukraine obliges the state to secure the rights of indigenous people. Apparently, it is the Crimean Tatars who are more entitled to protection of rights than any other national minorities in Crimea. “In Ukraine, the Crimean Tatars still haven’t been recognized as the indigenous people of Crimea. It is obvious that this issue needs to be resolved”, he said. Mr. Kozyubra assumed that the Verkhovna Rada would do this in the nearest future. He reminded that the attitude to indigenous people in the Russian Federation is way worse than in Ukraine.

“It is clear that returning Crimea to Ukraine will not be easy and quick, but if the quality of living in Ukraine improves, Crimea will turn its face towards Ukraine’, said Mr. Kozyubra.

Mykola Kozyubra is a Doctor of Law, professor, former judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, one of the authors of the Declaration of State Sovereignty and the Constitution of Ukraine.

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