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Crimea

Crimea (krīmē´ə), Rus. and Ukr. Krym, peninsula and republic (1991 est. pop. 2,363,000), c.10,000 sq mi (25,900 sq km), SE Europe, linked with the mainland by the Perekop Isthmus. The peninsula is bounded on the S and W by the Black Sea. The eastern tip of the Crimea is the Kerch peninsula, separated from the Taman peninsula (a projection of the mainland) by the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. Simferopol is the capital of the Crimea. Other major cities include Sevastopol (politically independent of the rest of Crimea), Kerch, Feodosiya, Yalta, and Yevpatoriya. Part of Ukraine (then the Ukrainian SSR) from 1954, the peninsula was occupied and annexed by Russia in 2014, a move not generally recognized internationally. An autonomous republic in Ukraine, Crimea was made a Russian constituent republic; Sevastopol has been a politically independent city with the status of an oblast under Ukrainian and Russian administration.

Along the Crimea's northeast shore are a series of shallow, stagnant, but mineral-rich lagoons, known collectively as the Sivash or Putrid Sea, which are linked to the Sea of Azov by the Arabatskaya Strelka. The northern part of the Crimea is a semiarid steppe, drained by a few streams; this region supports fine wheat, corn, and barley crops. In the south rises the Crimean or Yaila Range (Yaltinskaya Yaila), with its extensive meadows and forests. The tallest peak rises to c.5,000 ft (1,520 m). In the Crimean Range is a major astronomical observatory. Protected by steep mountain slopes, the Black Sea littoral, once called the "Soviet Riviera," has a subtropical climate and numerous resorts, including Crimea's Yalta. During the years of Soviet rule, the resorts and dachas of the Crimean coast served as the prime perquisites of the politically loyal. In this region are vineyards and fruit orchards; fishing, mining, and the production of essential oils are also important. Heavy industry in the Crimea includes plants producing machinery, chemicals, and building materials. The peninsula's territorial waters may have underwater petroleum and natural gas fields.

Ethnic Russians constitute more than half of the Crimea's population; Ukrainians more than a quarter. After 1989 there was a movement back to the area of native Tatars who had been exiled to Central Asia in the Stalin era, and they now form more than a sixth of the population. There are also smaller minorities of ethnic Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Germans.

History

Known in ancient times as Tauris, the peninsula was the home of the Cimmerian people, called the Tauri. Expelled from the steppe by the Scythians in the 7th cent. BC, they founded (5th cent. BC) the kingdom of Cimmerian Bosporus, which later came under Greek influence. Ionian and Dorian Greeks began to colonize the coast in the 6th cent., and the peninsula became the major source of wheat for ancient Greece. In the 1st cent. BC, the kingdom of Pontus began to rule the Greek part of the peninsula, which became a Roman protectorate in the 1st cent. AD During the next millennium the area was overrun by Ostrogoths, Huns, Khazars, Cumans, and in 1239, by the Mongols of the Golden Horde. Meanwhile, the southern shore was mostly under Byzantine control from the 6th to the 12th cent.

Trade relations were established (11th–13th cent.) with Kievan Rus, and in the 13th cent. Genoa founded prosperous coastal commercial settlements. After Timur's destruction of the Golden Horde, the Tatars established (1475) an independent khanate in N and central Crimea. In the late 15th cent. both the khanate and the southern coastal towns were conquered by the Ottoman Empire; the Turks called the peninsula Crimea. Although they became Turkish vassals, the Crimean Tatars were powerful rulers who became the scourge of Ukraine and Poland, exacted tribute from the Russian czars, and raided Moscow as late as 1572.

Russian armies first invaded the Crimea in 1736. Empress Catherine II forced Turkey to recognize the khanate's independence in 1774, and in 1783 she annexed it outright; the annexation was confirmed by the Treaty of Jassy (1792). Many Tatars, with their Muslim religion and Turkic language, emigrated to Turkey, while Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Germans, Armenians, and Greeks settled in the Crimea. During the Crimean War (1853–56), parts of the remaining Tatar population were resettled in the interior of Russia.

After the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) an independent Crimean republic was proclaimed; but the region was soon occupied by German forces and then became a refuge for the White Army. In 1921 a Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created; Tatars then constituted about 25% of the population. During World War II, German invaders took the Crimea after an eight-month siege. Accused by the Soviet government of collaborating with the Germans, the Crimean Tatars were forcibly removed from their homeland after the war and resettled in distant parts of the Asian USSR. The republic itself was dissolved (1945) and made into a region of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic; in 1954 it was transferred to Ukraine. In 1989, Tatars began to return from their exile in Siberia and Central Asia.

In 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev was vacationing in Crimea at the time of the August Coup. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia and Ukraine engaged in negotiations over the possession of Crimea and the disposition of the former Soviet fleet based in the Black Sea. In 1992 there was an abortive attempt by the Russian-dominated Crimean government to declare independence. Elected Crimea's first president in 1994, Yuri Meshkov called for the rejoining of the Crimea with Russia. In 1995, Crimea's government was placed under national control and Meshkov was ousted, but its assembly was retained. An accord the same year between Ukraine and Russia called for the division of the Black Sea fleet, and in 1997 it was agreed that Russia would be allowed to base its portion of the fleet there for 20 years. Tensions between Crimea's ethnic Russians and the Ukrainian national government continued to mark Crimean and Ukrainian politics; another source of tension have been demands by repatriated Tatars for land.

In 2014, following the collapse of Ukrainian president Yanukovych's government, pro-Russian forces seized government buildings in Crimea, and in closed-door (and reportedly invalid) votes Crimea's prime minister was replaced and a referendum on joining Russia scheduled. Local "self-defense" forces in conjunction with thinly disguised Russian military forces seized key facilities and surrounded Ukrainian bases in Crimea. The March referendum's reported turnout (80%) and result (99% in favor of joining Russia) was implausible given Crimea's political history and ethnic makeup. Russia quickly annexed the region, and the outnumbered Ukrainian military withdrew. Russia's seizure of the territory led to tensions with Crimea's Tatars.

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Crimea

CRIMEA

Russian hegemony was established over the Crimea region in 1783 when the Tsarist empire destroyed the Crimean Tatar state. By the second half of the nineteenth century the Crimean population had declined to 200,000, of which half were Tatars. This proportion continued to decline as Slav migration to the region continued in the next century through industrialization, the building of the Black Sea Fleet, and tourism. By the 1897 and 1926 censuses the Tatar share of the population had declined to 34 and 26 percent respectively.

During the civil war of 19171922, Crimea was claimed by the independent Ukrainian state, which obtained it under the terms of the 1918 Brest-Litovsk Treaty. But Crimea was also the scene of conflict between the Whites and Bolsheviks. In October 1921 Crimea was included within the Russian Federation (RSFSR) as an autonomous republic with two cities (Sevastopol and Evpatoria) under all-union jurisdiction.

Crimea's ethnic composition changed in May 1944 when nearly 200,000 Tatars and 60,000 other minorities were deported to Central Asia. It is estimated that up to 40 percent of the Tatars died during the deportation. A year later Crimean autonomy was formally abolished, and the peninsula was downgraded to the status of oblast (region) of the Russian Federation. All vestiges of Tatar influence were eradicated.

Crimea's status was again changed in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to the Ukrainian SSR. It remained an oblast until 1991, when a popularly supported referendum restored its status to an autonomous republic within Ukraine. Tatars began to return to Crimea in the Gorbachev era, but they still only accounted for 15 percent of the population, with the remainder of the population divided between Russians (two-thirds) and russified Ukrainians.

The status of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and the division of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet stationed on the peninsula, were the object of acrimonious dispute between Ukraine and Russia in the post-Soviet era. The Russian parliament repeatedly voted to demand that Ukraine return both Crimea and Sevastopol. Furthermore, the parliament argued that legally they were Russian territory and that Russia, as the successor state to the USSR, had the right to inherit Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet.

This dispute was not resolved until May 1997, when Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty that recognized each other's borders. The treaty was quickly ratified by the Ukrainian parliament (Rada ), but both houses of the Russian parliament only ratified it after intense lobbying from Ukraine in October 1998 and February 1999.

The resolution of the question of the ownership of Crimea and Sevastopol between 1997 and 1999 also assisted in the division of the Black Sea Fleet. Russia inherited 80 percent of the fleet and obtained basing rights scheduled to expire in 2017. The situation was also stabilized by Crimea's adoption in October 1998 of a constitution that for the first time recognized Ukraine's sovereignty.

Within Crimea the Tatars have been able to mobilize large demonstrations, but their small size has prevented them from having any significant influence on the peninsula's politics. Between 1991 and 1993 the former communist leadership of Crimea, led by Mykola Bagrov, attempted to obtain significant concessions from Kiev in an attempt to maximize Crimea's autonomy. This autonomist line was replaced by a pro-Russian secessionist movement that was the most influential political force between 1993 and 1994; its leader Yuri Meshkov was elected Crimean president in January 1994. The secessionist movement collapsed between 1994 and 1995 due to internal quarrels, lack of substantial Russian assistance, and Ukrainian economic, political, and military pressure. The institution of a Crimean presidency was abolished in March 1995. From 1998 to 2002 the peninsula was led by Communists, who controlled the local parliament, and pro-Ukrainian presidential centrists in the regional government. In the 2002 elections the Communists lost their majority in the local parliament, and it, like the regional government, came under the control of pro-Ukrainian presidential centrists.

See also: black sea fleet; crimean khanate; crimean tatars; crimean war; sevastopol; tatarstan and tatars; ukraine and ukrainians

bibliography

Allworth, Edward, ed. (1988). Tatars of the Crimea: Their Struggle for Survival. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Kuzio, Taras. (1994). "The Crimea and European Security." European Security 3(4): 734774.

Kuzio, Taras. (1998). Ukraine: State and Nation Building (Routledge Studies of Societies in Transition, 9). London: Routledge.

Lazzerini, Edward. (1996). "Crimean Tatars." In The Nationalities Question in the Post-Soviet States, ed. Graham Smith. London: Longman.

Taras Kuzio

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Crimea

Crimea (Krym) Peninsula in s Ukraine that extends into the Black Sea, w of the Azov Sea and joined to the mainland by the Perekop Isthmus. Simferopol is the capital. The Crimea was inhabited from the 10th to 8th centuries bc by the Cimmerians. During the 5th century, it was colonized by the Greeks and then by Romans, Ostrogoths, Huns, Mongols, Byzantines and Turks, before being annexed to Russia in 1783. In 1921 it became an autonomous republic of Russia, and in 1954 was transferred to the Ukraine as the Krymskaya oblast. In 1991 it was made an autonomous republic of an independent Ukraine. The region has many mineral resources, notably iron and gypsum, and intensive agriculture. Area: c.27,000sq km (10,425sq mi). Pop. (2002 est.) 2,073,100.

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Crimea

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