Politics in and around the Crimea 1990-2001
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After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Crimea had to define the terms of its status within a new context – the maintenance of Ukrainian sovereignty. The issue regarding the Crimea’s territorial status had two aspects: the status of the peninsula per se, that is, whether it should form a part of Ukraine or Russia, and the status of the territory within the state, part of which it constituted. The overall situation was complicated by the claims of the separatist-minded Russian majority, who now was opposed by the native inhabitants of the peninsula – the Crimean Tatars, who were in process of mass return from Central Asia, where they were deported en masse in 1944. Inter-ethnic clashes could have detrimental effects on Ukrainian independence and, therefore, their avoidance was essential for Ukrainian authorities. In this context, the constitutional process, which this thesis aims at presenting, acquired great importance, as it was the only tool through which the accommodation of interests of different national groups inhabiting the peninsula and protection of their basic rights was possible. Examination of this process, however, reveals the inability of the Crimean authorities to achieve these goals and their failure to grant the Crimea a legal “passport” that would reflect the historic, ethnic, and cultural peculiarities of the region. The Ukrainian-Russian confrontation over the Crimea and the dispute between these two states over the possession of the Black Sea Fleet was exacerbating the situation further and had great impact on the political situation in the peninsula and on national, regional, and international security.