Crimean Tatar leader angrily rejects President’s Constitutional proposals


Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis or Crimean Tatar representative assembly and Ukrainian MP, will not vote for amendments to Ukraine’s Constitution that do not recognize the right to the Crimean Tatar people to self-determination on their historical territory.  

Chubarov reacted immediately and strongly to certain words spoken by President Petro Poroshenko during his presentation on July 1 of draft amendments to the Constitution concerning decentralization.  These reforms are urgently needed, have been largely approved by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, and Chubarov stressed that he too has no objection to them. 

In presenting the amendments, however, Poroshenko spoke of a ‘national-cultural autonomy for the Crimean Tatar people’, and that, the head of the Mejlis says, is unacceptable. 

Valentina Samar writes that in explaining his position, Chubarov pointed out that the President had spoken of how they owe a debt to the Crimean Tatar people.   “With which, Chubarov adds, he was recognizing what is obvious, namely that for 23 years the Ukrainian state avoided reinstating the rights of the Crimean Tatar people on their own land. 

More is needed, however, than fine words and the same old problems.

“For 23 years the Crimean Tatars tried to convince Ukrainian politicians that through determining the legal status of Crimea on the basis of the right of the Crimean Tatar people to self-determination will serve not only to reinstate their rights, but also as guarantee of the peninsula’s inalienable position as part of the Ukrainian state. Ukraine, however, followed another path: instead of national-territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatar people which would totally comply with international law, an autonomy was created in Crimea in which all rights were de facto received by the ethnic – Russian majority.

In fact the occupation in Feb – March 2014 of Crimea by Russia was to a large extent predetermined when Ukraine so openly disregarded the rights of the indigenous people of Crimea.

Today’s Ukraine, building its future development in full accord with and on the basis of universal European values cannot possibly continue to ignore the right of the Crimean Tatar people to self-development », Chubarov explained.

Chubarov is a member of the Constitutional Commission, and says that he has always made his position quite clear.  He adds that with respect to a general approach, there is understanding and notes the words spoken by the President on the status of Crimea within Ukraine during his address at a requiem in memory of the victims of the Deportation on May 18. 

The Head of the Mejlis’ reaction to Poroshenko’s words was strong, but hardly difficult to predict.   He explained to Radio Svoboda’s Crimean Service that there had been a swift response, with a meeting having taken place between him, veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev and Poroshenko on July 3.  Chubarov refused to reveal details of the meeting, reiterating only that his stand is quite clear and he will not vote for the amendments to the Constitution « with public recognition by the Head of State of the right of the Crimean Tatars to self-determination in Crimea.

Crimean Tatars have faced harassment, persecution and serious rights infringements since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in Feb – March 2014.  The position taken by Refat Chubarov, Mustafa Dzhemiliev and the Crimean Tatar Mejlis in general has let to a very serious offensive against the latter, with its Deputy Head Akhtem Chiygoz in detention on legally nonsensical charges since Jan 29 this year.  Both Chubarov and Dzhemiliev have been prohibited by the Russian regime from entering their homeland.

Halya Coynash

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