2nd anniversary of referendum on joining Russia: Dispelling myths about Crimea

Today is the second anniversary of the referendum which formalized Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Aleh Minich, a guest of Belsat TV programme ‘World and Us’ has collected 7 myths and facts about the peninsula.

Myth 1. Crimea is Russia’s territory from time immemorial

Fact: The history of Crimea has nearly three thousand years, and the ‘Russian’ period is only 3.5% of it.

Myth 2. Passing Crimea to the USSR (1954) was illegal, it was Khrushchev’s gift

Fact: It was a joint decision of the Soviet part officials. At that time, George Malenkov was Head of the Soviet government while all the documents was signed by the then head of the Soviet Union – Kliment Voroshilov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Myth 3: In Crimea the Russian language and its speakers suffered from discrimination.

Fact: In 2013, 89.4% of schoolchildren had Russian as a language of instruction. In higher educational institutions only 5% of subjects was taught in Ukrainian, Russian was the dominating language. More than 80% of print press was published exclusively in Russian.

Myth 4. As protests on Kyiv’s Maidan led to the change of government, Moscow was no longer obliged to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Fact. Border treaties are signed by governments, but concluded by states. As long as a state exists as a subject of international law, it cannot disengage itself from obligations undertaken.

Myth 5. There was no annexation of Crimea: most citizens voted for secession from Ukraine in a referendum, therefore, Moscow accepted an independent territory.

Fact. Crimea’s Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers were seized by the Russian military on the night of February 27, 2014. The so called Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol was adopted by the Crimean deputies on March 11, 2014.

Myth 6. If Crimea had not become Russian, it would have suffered the same fate as Donbas.

Fact. The opposite is true. But for the ‘Russian’ Crimea, there would be no self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics. A military group under the command of Igor Strelkov (Girkin) that seized and began fighting in Donbas launched their assault on the east of Ukraine just from the territory of Crimea.

Myth 7. the story of Crimea bears a strong resemblance to that of Kosovo.

Fact. The conceptual difference between the stories of Kosovo and Crimea is that Kosovo did not join Albania. Russia did annex Crimea; annexation is considered one of the most serious violations of international law.

Watch Belsat TV report about Russia’s actions in Crimea in the spring of 2014: