Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On February 26th, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stated that he won’t leave inhabitants of the Crimea without “support” and will continue the struggle for the return of the peninsula to “independent” Ukraine. The opinion of Crimeans in this regard doesn’t concern the Ukrainian leader in the least, all though it would be worth taking an interest in what they think about returning Crimea into Ukraine. After all, according to the latest polls, even the representatives of the Crimean Tatar population, who Kiev tries to appeal to when it speaks about discontent and human rights violations in Crimea, don’t want to return.
On February 26th, the head of Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs Igor Barinov in an interview to “Izvestia” said that according to the latest research, zero Crimean Tatars who were questioned expressed a desire to move to Ukraine
“Answering the question: ‘If the opportunity was presented, would you like to move to another settlement in Crimea, to another region of Russia, to Ukraine, to another country?’, 0% of respondents answered that they would like to move to Ukraine; 82% declared that they would like to remain in Crimea; 10% — to change settlement within Crimea. Another 2% are ready to move to other region of Russia,” said the official. He added that for a decrease in statistical error and an increase of level of trust, the representatives of the same nationality who acted as the interviewer and the respondent had the opportunity to speak the Crimean Tatar language.
Barinov also said that inter-national problems in the Republic of Crimea still remain, but the situation steadily improves. If at the beginning of 2016 38% of Crimean Tatars during a poll declared that they face difficulties in connection with their nationality, now this indicator stands at 27%.
“Until 2014 Crimea existed in another legal plane, for more than 20 years in the Ukrainian reality the daily needs of the people concerned very few people. Now our state, in the direct sense of the word, turned to Crimeans, and special attention is paid to the repressed people,” explained the official. Such steps as granting the Crimean Tatar language and holidays the status of state ones, restoration of objects of cultural heritage, and the construction of schools and housing positively affected the mood of the population.
“Of course, there is a lot more problems. To redeem the situation of the whole people in two years, to heal a historical wound that was created, is not very simple. But the situation changes for the better,” he summed up.
The deputy of the Bakhchysarai City Council Konstantin Knyrik in comment to “SP” thinks that the data of the polls corresponds to reality, and explains with what it is connected to.
“The change of moods of the Crimean Tatars is connected with the fact that they with every new day lose trust in more and more and rejected the small group of outcasts and terrorists in the face of Chubarov, Dzhemilev, and others, who for 24 years seriously influenced the Crimean Tatar environment and manipulated it. Over the past few years the Tatars saw that their former leaders are real terrorists, who use the ethnic question for the achievement of their mercantile and political goals.
In reality, despite the wild counter-propaganda, the Crimean Tatars took an active part in the referendum and now play a no-less active role in all political processes on the territory of the Republic, ranging from representation in local authorities to participation in parties, public organizations, and political processes.
In the process of a reduction of influence of villains and rogues who arrange acts of terrorism on the border with Crimea, the moods of Tatars changed. In addition, only now did this group of the population completely understand the sense of the law on the deported people, and in this, probably, there is an omission also in our informational work.
The fact is that during 24 years the main instrument of manipulations of the so-called Majlis was that Ukraine will imminently adopt this law, and will provide to the Crimean Tatars the status of deported people. Pre-election manipulation was constantly conducted concerning this issue. After the accession of Crimea to Russia, the adoption of this law and the signing of the corresponding decree of the President took place in a few days. And only now do Crimean Tatars completely understand what rights and opportunities this document gives them.”
“SP”: Are the problems about which representatives of the Crimean Tatars spoke in the poll also the consequences of propaganda or real difficulties?
“Problems occur for anyone, and it is silly to say that they don’t exist. But the problem of the Crimean Tatars was forced for all 24 years while the peninsula was under Ukraine. All political speculation was built on this issue. Today friction decreased for two reasons. First, the quantity of political propaganda reduced, and secondly, now social problems of all Crimeans, including Tatars, are being solved more systemically.”
“SP”: What do think, Kiev will continue to exploit the Crimean Tatar topic, taking into account these changes?
“The Kiev government no longer has the Crimean Tatar trump card in its hands. In its hands are a small group of outcasts, we even call them “Kherson Tatars”, in the person of Chubarov and Dzhemilev. Of course, they will continue to aggravate the situation, to arrange provocations, to shout that they form groups for the liberation of Crimea. Because there is no other sense for their existence, except provocations directed against the Republic.
But it doesn’t play any role. The Crimean political society was formed in three years. Like how the understanding formed about how all people can live in peace and harmony. That’s why all provocations of Kiev and Kherson Tatars will remain on their territory.”
The Director-General of the Institute of Regional Problems Dmitry Zhuravlev considers that over time the ethnic question in Crimea will be completely solved.
“Crimean Tatars don’t wish to go to Ukraine for a very simple reason — they want to live better, not worse. In Ukraine the standard of living is lower, it is difficult to live there. In Russia there is state support for national autonomies. Such an institute simply doesn’t exist in Ukraine. The same Crimean Tatar television if it was in Kiev, Chernigov or Kharkov, could exist exclusively with the money of Tatars themselves. While in Russia the federal agency on affairs of nationalities is engaged in its support, including materially. The Crimean Tatar people, it is necessary to say, feel such things perfectly.
As soon as Crimea joined Russia, I was present at a meeting between the Muslim community of Moscow and the Crimean Tatars. In the beginning an anti-Russian pathos was present in their actions. And then conversation about the work of national autonomies began. And guys with surprise learned that in Russia they are supported by the state. After that the pathos started disappearing literally before our eyes.”
“SP”: But during the Ukrainian period Tatars were always on the side of Kiev…
“The Crimean Tatars supported Kiev only because Kiev forced tension all the time and kindled contradictions between the population of the peninsula and Tatars who returned there at the very end of the Soviet power. Kiev supported the idea of the transfer of the southern coast of Crimea for the exclusive use of the Crimean Tatar people. This topic was constantly discussed while sulking.
Now, when Kiev can’t influence it any more, the level of contradictions sharply decreased. These disagreements were in many respects connected with the return of the deported people. It is impossible to hand over the same house to the current owner and at the same time give it back to those who it belonged to before they were deported. There were objective difficulties. But now they are in many respects smoothed out. Tatars are very sane-minded people. They would like to receive the southern coast, but as this topic is no longer, that is that.
Contradictions won’t disappear tomorrow morning, but they will continue to be smoothed out. Because it’s not the contradictions between the different people on ethnic grounds, but disagreements between two owners to whom the house belonged to at different times. National disagreements in Crimea are the consequences of Stalin’s deportation. Just Ukraine actively speculated on these consequences, while they never considered Crimea as its own, and treated it like occupied territory.”
“SP”: Will Kiev continue in its propaganda to place a stake on the Crimean Tatars?
“They will place a stake on the so-called leaders of the Crimean Tatars who are in Ukraine. They can be brought to Brussels, to say that they are oppressed people and to urge to continue sanctions. However these people don’t come to Crimea, they live on the Ukrainian side and receive money from it. While there are contradictions on the peninsula, Kiev will try to play on it.”
“SP”: And isn’t the western public confused, that these two “oppressed people” are actually the same people?
“If to be more exact, it is two people who go to the conferences as Pat and Patashon. No, it doesn’t confuse. Firstly, in the West, especially in Europe, an internal idea exists that Russians are guilty of everything. And secondly, it is profitable to believe Dzhemilev, and in politics everything that is profitable is the truth. Some sincerely believe the propaganda, and others impudently use it.”
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