Mustafa Cemilev: If Russia has occupied the Crimea, it shall bear full responsibility for the social and economic situation in the peninsula


Kyiv, February 26, 2015 – Ukrainian Crisis Media Center hosted the conference “February 26-th. The Crimea is a part of Ukraine” dedicated to the 1-st anniversary of the demonstration of the Crimean Tatar people in support of the territorial integrity of the country.   A year ago the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People organized a peaceful demonstration near the building of the Verkhovna Rada of the AR of Crimea, strongly objecting to separatism.  People managed to prevent the session of the Verkhovna Rada of the AR of Crimea, but they were unable to efficiently resist the so-called “green men” (Russian occupation troops) only on their own.  In Mustafa Cemilev’s opinion, the Crimea has always been one of the country’s sore spots, a weak link contaminated with Russian propaganda for years, especially during Yanukovych’s presidency.  «Ukraine did not take action against the separatist tendencies which were supported and funded by the RF on the Crimean territory, as well as did nothing to support pro-Ukrainian trends», he stated.

Nowadays, when the Crimea is occupied, the new concept of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is being developed, as Mustafa Cemilev said. However, it should include the right of indigenous people to self-determination in order to protect the rights of the ethnic group in the future. Mustafa Cemilev called on President Petro Poroshenko to completely stop supplies of fuel and food to the Crimea. “If Russia occupied the Crimea, it shall bear full responsibility for its economic situation, it should be Russia’s trouble how to provide food to people and light their houses”, Mr. Cemilev stated. He said that similar views are expressed by the inhabitants of the occupied Crimea, who are ready to carry on through hard times in order to get rid of occupation.

According to Refat Chubarov, there was a very short period in February 2014 when the actions should have been taken to prevent the aggression. “It was February 27-28, before large-scale external invasion broke out”, – Mr. Chubarov explained his opinion. “To avoid the re-occurrence of the same situation, we should focus not on military staff alone, but clearly investigate the role of each Crimean public official in that time, including the Chief of the SSU in the Crimea,  law enforcement staff and the Prime Minister himself”, told the Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. Today every possible effort should be taken to protect the people in the Crimea. «Transportation should be restored between the peninsula and the inland Ukraine to ensure normal communication between people. If a couple or a dozen of diversionists would try to use this transportation, it should be the security service’s task to cope with them”, Mr. Chubarov added.

Andriy Senchenko, Chief of the Crimean Republican Branch of Batkivshchyna Party, told that the repressions against the Crimean Tatar people are deeply rooted. “The government used to be interested in the Crimea only from the point of view of acquiring land plots on the seaside, and thus fostered the Crimean elite ready to protect these interests for crumbs from the government’s table», he explained. According to Mr. Senchenko, Ukraine would not have managed to counteract the occupation by force, because either Crimean law enforcement staff or Berkut special squads and police were absolutely unreliable in terms of protecting the territorial integrity. Moreover, there was the so-called power vacuum then.  “However, the aggression would have failed without military component, without weapons”, – the politician added. In his opinion, it is now crucial to keep up struggle, but is should be the struggle for people’s minds rather than transportation blockade, “and this should be not just propaganda, but a meaningful formula of the Crimea development”.

According to the journalist and essay writer Vitaliy Portnikov, it would be feasible to work with Crimean population not right now, but rather when the Crimea is regained. In particular, it should take place after court trials over everyone culpable for the annexation of the peninsula, both from Russian and Ukrainian side. Thereafter the Crimean citizens should be given a certain period of time to decide which country’s passport they want to retain. “Those who want to preserve Ukrainian citizenship must give in their Russian passports, those who don’t – may be allowed to live in the Crimea as foreigners and do not take part in the country’s political life. There is a third category which is not willing to be citizens of Ukraine and is reluctant to live in the Crimea. We will help them to get back to their motherland. They rode in by tanks, they should get away to their country by tanks”, Mr. Portnikov noted. The so-called Parliament and Government of the AR of Crimea in exile should be established as the sole body representing the people’s will in the Crimea.

Russian political scientist Andriy Piontkovskyi considers the current situation to be a world-scale crisis. March 18, 2014 was a crucial milestone, in his opinion. It was not because of Russian annexation by the Crimea, but because of the emphasis Putin expressed in his Crimean speech, where he pledged to protect not only the citizens of Russia, but all ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking population. “This was like a training mockup of Hitler’s speech to students, expressing new concepts, and in particular, the “Russian world” concept similar to the German Reich”, he told. Putin speaks with Ukraine and the whole world in a language of threats, ultimatums and blackmailing. According to Mr. Piontkovskyi, the United States are helping not because of their love to Ukraine but because of their own safety concerns. Putin’s victory in Ukraine will mean that Baltic countries will be afflicted next, and the nuclear conflict with Russia breaks out. Mr. Piontkovskyi said that regaining the Crimea lies in the context of the global hybrid war, which is the war of Putin’s world against the Western civilization, and the future of the Western world depends upon its outcome. Ukraine may regain the Crimea only after the downfall of Putin’s regime which can be destroyed by the Russian elite itself; the political scientist made some similarities to Stalin’s era.  «How does Russian state function? They steal here and store their assets in the western countries, ensuring a wealthy life for themselves and their descendants for the next few generations. But this is possible if their big boss has constructive relations with the Western elites; the Russian elite will not need an isolated boss whose actions caused the seizure of their assets”, Andriy Piontkovskyi said.