60 years on Russia plans to ‘nullify’ transfer of Crimea to Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Yalta that the events around annexation of the Crimea were about "therapy" for a deep trauma, "a wound inflicted on our people as the result of the dramatic schism of the twentieth century".
Russia’s Federation Council is preparing a draft bill which will declare the Soviet normative acts on transferring the Crimea from the Russian to the Ukrainian SSR to be of no legal significance.
Valentina Matveyenko, speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament,that the Federation Council is drawing up a draft bill which will nullify the Crimea’s inclusion within Ukraine 60 years ago, in 1954. At a meeting between representatives of both houses and president Vladimir Putin, she stated that their “analysis of decisions taken in 1954 to transfer the Crimean oblast from the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian SSR suggests “the unlawfulness of this voluntaristic act which was adopted in violation of the then Constitution and legislative procedure”. Therefore in the Federation Council we began preparing a draft bill which will recognize the transfer of Crimea as having no juridical force and legal consequences from the moment of its adoption.”
This may have been music to Putin’s ears but hardly accurate, since the legal and political consequences were and remain enormous. Ukraine’s territorial integrity within existing borders, including the Crimea was accepted by all countries on independence in 1991 and it was this territorial integrity that the Russian Federation committed itself to in the Budapest Memorandum in 1994.
It was equally in force when Russia invaded and then annexed the Crimea in February and March 2014. The official version, put by government-controlled RIA Novosti is that the Crimea was ‘rejoined’ with Russia after a referendum in which 96.77% of the population of the Crimea and Sevastopol [which has special separate status] voted for this.
In fact, the so-called ‘referendum’ gave two ‘alternatives’, neither of which was the status quo. It was announced 10 days before being held and the only observers were from European and US far-right, neo-Nazi or extreme left parties, with approval for the supposed exemplary referendum expressed before the results had been announced.
The event was not recognized by western countries, and even the President’s advisory body on human rights inadvertently admitted that both turnout and support had been considerably lower than claimed.
Nor should one forget the very immediate consequences as the west has finally woken up to the threat to world order posed by Russia’s landgrab and the new harsher sanctions imposed by the EU and USA over the annexation in recent weeks.
It is the planned ‘law’ that can have no legal significance or force.