Measures taken by federal and regional authorities in the interests of the Crimean Tatar population
According to Rosstat (the Federal State Statistic Service), as of 1 January 2021 the population of the Crimean Tatars in the Republic of Crimea and in the city of Sevastopol was 230,000 people (12.2% of the total population). They live scattered and do not form a majority in any municipality, however, they are concentrated mostly in the Kirovskoye and Belogorsk districts (around a third of the population) and, least, in and around Yalta (2%).
This ethnic group has increasingly exercised its right to vote: the September 2019 elections in the Republic of Crimea resulted in 250 Crimean Tatars becoming members of municipal councils (in 2014, around 100 of them were elected to all levels of authority). Most of the Tatars elected as deputes are members of the United Russia Party. The elections were welcomed by Crimean Tatars and contributed to the development of a positive dialogue of the community with local and federal authorities.
The Crimean deputes in the State Duma include Ruslan Balbek from the United Russia Party, the Honorary President of non-governmental organization The Regional National and Cultural Autonomy of the Crimean Tatars of the Republic of Crimea.
Regular appeals of the Russia-prohibited Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to obstruct any election campaigns on the Peninsula do not resonate with the Crimean Tatar community. The Crimean society takes the prohibition of these radicals as a measure that stopped the aggravation of ethnic and religious tensions on the Peninsula.
The federal authorities attach great importance to systematically addressing the interests of the Crimean Tatar community. Mechanisms of ensuring rights of this people are written into legislation, and the Constitution of the Republic established its language as a State one, as well as the principle of equal conditions for the development of all national cultures.
There is ongoing work to overcome the negative historic heritage. Decree No. 268 "On the Measures for the Rehabilitation of Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Italian, Crimean Tatar and German Peoples and the State Support of Their Revival and Development" signed by the Russian President on 21 April 2014 (as revised on 12 September 2015) has been implemented. The Crimean Tatars fully fall under the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Laws No. 1107-1 "On the Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples" of 26 April 1991 and Law No. 1761-1 "On the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repressions" of 18 October 1991. The first phase of the construction of a memorial to the victims of deportation in the town of Siren of the Bakhchysarai District has been completed.
Federal target program The Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol until 2025 (FTP) includes measures to rehabilitate the repressed peoples exceeding Kiev's total expenses for "the resettlement of national minorities" of the Peninsula.
In 2014-2019, a number of social facilities were constructed for earlier repressed citizens. In particular, under the FTP, a series of apartment buildings were put into service: a 72-apartment building in 2019 and two 160-apartment buildings in 2020. The authorities of Sevastopol consider a possibility of elaborating a legislative mechanism to ensure the right to inherit new apartments under construction for descendants of the repressed persons even after their death.
Besides, there were 520 places created in pre-school educational institutions, and 37.3km of gas supply networks (to provide for 1,100 families), 18.3 km of electrical networks and 7.2 km of water supply networks (to provide for 400 families) built. The implementation of the FTP continues, including the construction of apartment buildings, schools, kindergartens and cultural centers. Around 300 ethnic and cultural events are held annually.
State programme The Republic of Crimea – the Territory of Interethnic Concord has been implemented since 2015 with part of its funds (10 billion roubles) used for the construction of social facilities for Crimean Tatars and for national media support. In total, 28.3 billion roubles were allocated from budget for the development of ethnic policy in the Republic of Crimea in 2019, which is 4.3 billion roubles more than in 2018.
Controversies concerning so called squatting of land parcels by Crimean Tatars in the time of the Ukrainian sovereignty over the Peninsula have been progressively settled through the mediation of the Land Commission created under the instruction of the Head of the Republic of Crimea.
The FTP finances the repair and restoration works at the Bakhchisaray Historical, Cultural and Archaeological Museum-Reserve (1.6 billion roubles were to be spent only on all 16 buildings of the Khan's Palace complex – no such large work in terms of financing has been done in the last 30 years). The restoration has been performed by experienced Moscow and Kazan specialists. The externally instigated rhetoric about the need for "inspections" of the complex by "more professional" Turkish or Middle Eastern conservation architects is unsubstantiated.
The Republic authorities significantly support the community's spiritual and religious life. The Religious Administration of Muslims of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol (RAMC) headed by Mufti Emirali-Hajji Ablaev (re-registered in 2015 as a Russian centralized religious organization) works constructively to counter nationalist and extremist attitudes in the Crimean Tatar community. Under the canonical jurisdiction of the RAMC there are 187 officially registered religious Muslim organizations with their own preaching houses and mosques.
The construction under the patronage of the President of the Russian Federation of the Cathedral Mosque in Simferopol (with a capacity of 4,000 people) is to be finalized this year. Internal decoration works are inter alia performed by a group of Turkish artists.
Annually, Muslim holidays are declared days-off, and pilgrimage to Mecca is organized with Crimean participants in the annual Hajj enjoying the simplified foreign-passport application process. In 2019, 975 Crimean Tatars undertook the Hajj (before 2014, there were 100-150 organized pilgrims from Crimea yearly).
At its extended meeting in February 2018, the Kurultay of Muslims of Crimea created the Shura (Council) of Crimean Tatars under the RAMC aimed to address issues of interaction with regional authorities (headed by Mufti Emirali-Hajji Ablaev). The Shura members were elected among prominent cultural and religious figures. Besides, the Crimean Tatar community, unlike other ethnic communities of the Peninsula, has its own unique in many ways advisory body – the Coordination Council of Crimean Tatars established by the Republic authorities. In December 2019, the Council for Interethnic and Interreligious Relations was organized under the Head of the Republic of Crimea. In March 2020, deputy head of the Council of Crimean Tatars under the Head of the Republic of Crimea and rector of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University Chingiz Yakubov became a member of the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations.
There is the Republic House of Friendship in Simferopol aimed to harmonize interethnic relations and support the work of various organizations of Crimean Tatars in the Republic. There are over 30 non- governmental associations of Crimean Tatars, including such prominent organizations as Milliy Fyrqa, Qirim Birligi/Crimean Unity, and Qirim/Crimea, whose membership is over 30,000 people. National-language editions receive the State support: Yeni Dünya, Qirim, Yıldız, Arzi, Armançıq, Hidayet, SUVDAĞ SESİ, etc. The VATAN SEDASI radio station has started its work. In total, currently there are over 50 Crimean Tatar media.
The first public television channel of Crimean Tatars – Millet (People) created in September 2015 along with the Meydan FM radio station have developed intensively; they are partially financed from the State budget. The TV channel has several studios and implements 22 projects. This company has the Community and Supervisory Councils. The channel provides satellite broadcasting to a big part of Russia, as well as to Eastern European and Central Asian countries, mostly Turkic-speaking ones.
Significant cultural and educational work is done by the Ismail Gasprinskiy Media Center, which in recent years has become the Republic's information holding of Crimean Tatar periodicals (with its own publishing and printing houses), as well as a media club, which gathered all national creative groups of the Peninsula.
Since 2014, the Crimean Tatar Theatre and the Crimean Tatar Museum of Cultural and Historical Heritage have received extra funding. The Crimean State Philharmonic creative team includes budget-funded Crimean Tatar music groups and soloists.
The Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University established earlier in the interests of Crimean Tatars, unlike the rest Crimean higher educational institutions, was not incorporated into the Vernadskiy Crimean Federal University in 2014, and nowadays operates as an autonomous republican higher educational institution and has over 50% of Crimean Tatar students. The Crimean Center for Polyethnic Youth Culture is being established in the framework of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University in Simferopol, and it is likely to function as a separate budget-funded educational institution (construction and installation works are to be completed in 2022). The mentioned Universities have two departments of the Crimean Tatar language, and there is the Research Institute of the Crimean Tatar Philology, and the History and Culture of Crimea (earlier it was just a "center" with an inferior status).
The community language is studied in secondary schools on parents' application. Relevant classes or groups are formed basing on the needs of the population. Besides, the number of pupils studying in Crimean Tatar, contrary to falsifications of the Kiev authorities and the Mejlis representatives, does not decrease but even increases.
In the 2019/2020 school year, of the total around 220,000 schoolchildren in the Republic of Crimea, 213,000 pupils studied in Russian, 6,400 – in Crimean Tatar and 200 – in Ukrainian. Besides, the study of mother tongues was organized for 38,000 pupils. For example, the Crimean Tatar language is taught to 31,000 children (in 333 schools of 17 Crimean municipalities) and the Ukrainian language to 5,600 children (in 144 schools of 13 Crimean districts). There are about 600 schools in total in Crimea with 16 of them with the Crimean Tatar language of study and one with the Ukrainian language (one more with two languages of study).
In the past years, 66 schoolbooks of 81,000 copies were translated, edited and published, and first original educational materials on the language and literature of this people have been used in the educational process since 2018.
There are visible positive outcomes of the targeted efforts of the Republic authorities and active representatives of the community in such a difficult process for many Crimean Tatars as understanding of their historical background. Against the backdrop of the long domineering isolation of the descendants of the Crimean Tatar veterans of the Great Patriotic War on the basis of nationality, the participation of a special Crimean Tatar group in the Simferopol column of the Immortal Regiment memorial march in the framework of the parade on 9 May 2019 (for the first time) was greatly welcomed.
In October 2020, Crimea and Dagestan hosted celebrations of the 100th anniversary since the birth of twice Hero of the Soviet Union, flying ace and test pilot Amet-Khan Sultan born in Alupka (Yalta). Last February, Crimea's people commemorated the 50th anniversary since his death (the opening of the memorial monument to the aviator in Simferopol was timed to the date).
The Days of Crimean Tatar Culture in Ankara in 2018 and a similar festival in Istanbul in 2019 contributed to the objective perception of the realities of the Crimean Tatars's life in the Russian Crimea by their more numerous diaspora abroad, in Turkey. In October 2019, Turkey received Russia's official delegation that for the first time included members of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation from the Republic of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya and Ruslan Balbek.