Putin: Crimea Will Join Russia Despite Ethnic Concerns

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After the Crimean referendum announced the results — 96.77  percent of voters calling for Crimean independence and subsequent application for Russian annexation — the international community was unmoved, continuing its insistence that the decision was illegitimate and illegal by Ukrainian constitution.

Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on his decision to accept Crimea into the Russian Federation, the same day he signed an Executive Order for the “Admission of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the Creation of New Constituent Entities within the Russian Federation.”

“To understand the reason behind such a choice, it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other,” said Putin in his address. “Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization, and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus,” said Putin, adding that, “The Graves of Russians whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea,” listing off areas that are “dear to our hearts” and that symbolize “Russian military glory and outstanding valour.”

Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process, which would have no moral force,” said the group of seven nations in an EU statement last week. Human rights officials with the UN emphasized how the situation was affecting one specific ethnic group in the region, the Tatars, a minority that grows increasingly fearful. At the same time, civilian activists and journalists are being tortured, harassed, and arrested, and some have gone missing in the area. “I have been informed about cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture … and other human rights violations committed by members of unidentified armed groups,” said Ivan Simonovic, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights. “Paramilitary forces must be disarmed and the rule of law must be re-established in Crimea by those who have the power to do so.”

Putin also discussed the Tatars in his address, saying that, “Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples’ cultures and traditions,” and that “not a single ethic group has been lost over the centuries.” Putin admitted that, “There was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly, just as a number of other peoples in the USSR,” but that “millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.”

“Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland. I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name,” said Putin, stressing that the between 290,000 to 300,000 Tatars in Crimean had been pro-Russia in the referendum as well.

International sanctions, though not military action, has been threatened and initiated by Western powers, and Ukraine’s Parliament voted recently to call up 20,000 reservists to the armed forces, and 20,000 pulled into a new national guard. “Let me appeal to you to preserve the unity of Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arsenii Yatseniuk, in an address to the resident of the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. “Law enforcement agencies have gathered compelling evidence of involvement of Russian secret services to the organization of riots in the East of the country. There are seized detainees. There is not place for warmongers in Ukraine,” he said.

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