A Ukrainian peninsula between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Northern peninsula on the Black Sea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine; formerly a region (1954–91)
area 27,000 sq km/10,425 sq mi
towns and cities Sevastopol, Yalta
features mainly steppe, but southern coast is a vacation resort; home of the Black Sea fleet (ownership of which has been the source of a dispute between Russia and Ukraine)
products iron, oil
est) 2,549,800 (65% Russian, 25% Ukranian, despite return of 150,000 Tatars since 1989)
history Crimea was under Turkish rule 1475–1774; a subsequent brief independence was ended by Russian annexation 1783. Crimea was the republic of Taurida 1917–20 and the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Republic from 1920 until occupied by Germany 1942–1944. It was then reduced to a region, its Tatar people being deported to Uzbekistan for collaboration. In 1954 Kruschev made Crimea part of Ukraine. Although the Tatar people were exonerated 1967 and some were allowed to return, others were forcibly re-exiled 1979. A drift back to their former homeland began 1987 and a federal ruling 1988 confirmed their right to residency. Since 1991 the Crimea has sought to gain independence from the Ukraine; the latter has resisted all secessionist moves. A 1994 referendum in Crimea supported demands for greater autonomy and closer links with Russia.
In a referendum organized by the regional soviet (council) 1991, citizens of the Crimean peninsula voted overwhelmingly in favor of restoring Crimea as an autonomous republic independent of the Ukraine. This referendum was opposed by representatives of the Tatars, who sought restriction of the voting solely to their community, and by the Ukrainian nationalist group Rukh. In Feb 1991, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet voted to restore to the Crimea the status of an autonomous Soviet socialist republic within the Ukraine. In Sept 1991, Crimea declared its independence but this was not recognized by Ukraine. In May 1992, the Crimean parliament declared the republic’s sovereignty subject to a regional referendum. Ukrainian president Kravchuk responded by authorizing the use of “all necessary means” to prevent Crimea’s secession and demanded that the declaration be rescinded. The Crimean parliament acceded but declared its intention to go ahead with the referendum. Also in May, Russia voted to nullify the 1945 transfer
of Crimea to the Ukraine and called for bilateral talks on the republic’s status. In March 1994 a regional referendum overwhelmingly supported demands for increased autonomy and for Crimeans to have the right to take Russian citizenship. In Sept 1994 the pro-Russian president of Crimea, Yuri Meshkov, disbanded the Crimean parliament and ordered a new constitution to be drafted, but a resolution passed by the Ukrainian parliament March 1995 abolished Crimea’s constitution and removed Meshkov from power, charging him with exceeding his authority.