The Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea was invaded by Russia in 2014, which claimed it as its own and held an unrecognized referendum integrating it into that country. Six years later, however, many of the promises that Russia had made to the Crimean people have not materialized, and some groups – Crimean Tatars especially – face heavy repression.
“The Russian state brings money to Crimea, and disproportionately more than some of the other regions,” noted journalist and author Nataliya Gumenyuk at a recent airing of the Weekly Wrap-Up. Despite this money, however, the Crimean economy has stalled since the invasion.
“I think we should talk about the opportunities that were lost. It’s a resort peninsula – which just doesn’t have a pleasant territory where people enjoyed their life – now they just have their life,” added Gumenyuk, pointing out that much of the money that Russia has supposedly given to the peninsula has been lost to corruption.
Journalist and writer Nataliya Gumenyuk (L) and Crimean Tatar activist Elnur Ametov (C) chat to Hromadske host Kari Odermann. Photo: hromadske
And the economic development Russia promised for Crimea has not outweighed the human cost. “Most of the political prisoners now being held by Russia, Ukrainian citizens, are Crimean Tatars,” noted Crimean Tatar activist Elnur Ametov, speaking on the Weekly Wrap-up.
“One of the crucial aspects of the Russian occupation policy is, I think, kind of a colonial one, where they try to assimilate the existing population, especially Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. Ukrainian language teaching is almost eliminated, and the teaching in Crimean Tatar also has decreased quite a lot,” said the activist.
“The life is like in Russia. And in Russia, the government tries to buy some people. It buys your freedom and gives you other things. But how legitimate is that? And it’s usually done in a way that some other people don’t get something,” noted Gumenyuk.
A man walks past a wrecked ship near the Myrnyi settlement in Crimea, Ukraine on March 13, 2014. Photo: UNIAN
But the simple fact that peninsula was invaded and conquered militarily poses a threat to international law, regardless of any positive or negative economic changes. “Even if there were no human rights violations in Crimea, even if the situation there was okay, it would be an unacceptable situation for international law itself, this illegal occupation. This kind of situation where international law, the international system of security didn’t manage the situation quickly enough, didn’t force Russia...to come back into the framework of international law, is very dangerous for the whole of international peace and security,” believes Ametov.