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Semena: ARC on the Eve of Presidential Elections

04/29/2004 | line305b
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Regional Analytics. Issue No. 1, April 2004

Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the Eve of the 2004
Presidential Elections

By Mykola Semena, Simferopol

Specific Features of Socio-Economic Situation in Autonomous
Republic of Crimea on the Eve of the 2004 Presidential Campaign

On the eve of the presidential and two years before the
parliamentary elections, socio-economic and political situation
in the Crimea is complicated and ambiguous. On the one hand,
Crimeas economy tends to rapid growth: according to data of the
Ministry of Economy and the Crimean Committee for Statistics,
industrial output amounted to 38% within the first quarter of
2004 and may increase by 50% within the initial six months
compared to the same period of 2003.

The recreation sphere yields proceeds. From January 1 till April
16, 2004, the number of visitors to the Autonomous Republic of
Crimea (ARC) increased by 74,200 persons or 10.1% compared to
the same period of 2003. At present, Crimean functioning health
centers are loaded by 47.3%, 7.8% up from the same period of
2003. Within the initial four months of 2004, 65,100 resort
visitors were registered in the Crimea and 3,900 persons visited
resorts unofficially.

Though on the other hand, structural analysis of the Crimean
economy demonstrates that it inherited some features of post-
Soviet economic crisis. Despite the fact that the Strategy for
Crimeas Development worked out by the Ministry of Economy is
focused on achievement of the highest living standards in
Ukraine by 2015, the largest shares in the structure of the
gross added value presently look as follows: industry - 17.8%,
trade and public catering - 17%, transport and communications -
15%, agriculture - 15%, and recreation sphere - 7-8%. The above
figures reflect the outdated branch structure of the Crimea and
its respective consequences. The share of ARC in the gross added
value of Ukraine comprises only 3% (it should be mentioned that
the Crimea occupies 4.3% of the territory of Ukraine). By actual
growth index per capita, the Crimea ranks the 20th. Unlike the
old economy of Soviet type, recreation branch, on which the
Crimea staked and which has to serve as a basis of its growth,
has not occupied the leading position yet.

Political Situation in Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the Eve
of the 2004 Presidential Campaign

On the eve of the presidential elections, political situation in
the Crimea is characterized by deterioration of inter-ethnic and
inter-religious problems. On the eve of the 60th anniversary of
deportation of the Crimean Tatars (May 18, 1944), Crimean Tatar
leaders exert stronger pressure on local authorities so that to
intensify their work on renewal of rights of deported persons.
They demand to increase representation of the Crimean Tatars in
local authorities, grant them land plots on the South coast of
the Crimea (where up to 80% of the Crimean Tatars lived before
deportation), restore historical toponymy, develop ethnic
education, culture and the press. From 2003 till present, the so-
called seven glades of protest were organized on the South coast
of the Crimea. Glades of protest represent demonstrational
actions of the Crimean Tatars aimed at capture of land plots on
the South coast of the Crimea in order to attract attention of
power, first and foremost the President of Ukraine, who spent
the whole summer of 2003 in the Crimea often called "summer
political capital of Ukraine" because of numerous international
actions carried out on its territory.
Meanwhile, reactionary forces increased their pressure on the
Crimean Tatars. Skinhead movement on the peninsula is rapidly
growing. For the purpose of destabilizing the situation, groups
of skinheads attacked Crimean Tatars and Arabic students of the
Crimean Medical University. Their attack on a Crimean Tatar in
Simferopol in March 2004 provoked attack of a group of Crimean
Tatars in the "Cotton-Club" bar. As a result, 9 persons were
brought to the hospital with serious wounds. The conflict
entailed aggravation of social and political situation in the
Crimea. At a press conference, Crimean MPs Serhiy Tsekov and
Olexandr Chornomorov threatened the Crimean Tatars with repeated
deportation as saying, "do not make mistakes identical to ours".
Anti-Tatar and anti-Russian sentiments significantly grew in
society.

Pro-Russian Crimean organizations continue officially
celebrating the anniversary of annexation of the Crimea to
Russia. On April 19, 2004, nearly 600 residents of Sevastopol
took part in actions dedicated to the 221st anniversary of
signing, by Empress Catherine the Great, of the manifest "On
Joining of the Taman Peninsula and the Whole Territory of Kuban
to the Russian Empire". Festive actions included solemn
procession and placement of a wreath at the monument to Vasiliy
Dolgorukiy and at the place, where the monument to the Catherine
the Second had been situated before. At night, people gathered
at the Lenin Square to take part in a meeting under the mottos
"To United Federal State through Economic Space", "National
Status to the Russian Language!" and "Crimean and Ukrainian
Future Is in Unity with Russia!" As usual, participants in the
meeting held flags of the Russian Federation and Autonomous
Republic of Crimea. The Russian community of the Crimea, the
Russian movement of the Crimea and the Crimean republican
organization of Russian bloc organized the actions.

Inter-confessional situation deteriorated as well. Mejlis of the
Crimean Tatars and Muftiat of Crimean Moslems make efforts to
obtain permission for construction of a cathedral mosque in
Simferopol Park "Salgirka", the former assembly place of the
Crimean Tatars before their deportation. Russian organizations
of the Crimea - the Russian community, Russian bloc and others -
demand prohibition of construction of a mosque in the Salgirka
Park from authorities. Local authorities do not dare to unleash
conflict and has been delaying decision for several months. The
Salgirka Park was officially given to the Tavriysky National
University for a botanic garden. At the same time, according to
Minister of Justice Olexandr Lavrynenko, ethnic confessional
communities in the Crimea amount to 40% of their general number.
He stated that influence of those communities on the Crimea was
tremendous: over 2003, the number of religious communities of
ethnic minorities increased up to 900, of which 467 belongs to
Moslems, 240 - to Jews, 112 - to the Transcarpathian Reformatory
Church, 40 - to the German Evangelical Lutheran Church, and 24 -
to the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic Churches. Also, there are
Czech, Gothic, Korean, Swedish, Karaim and Krymchak ethno-
confessional communities in the Crimea.

It is expected that the religious factor will be actively used
at the 2004 and 2006 elections. Head of the Spiritual
Administration of Crimean Moslems (SACM) and Mufti of Crimean
Muslims Haji Emirali Ablaev informed that in April 2004,
leadership of the Inter-Confessional Council "Peace is the Gods
Gift" (ICC) addressed delegates of the third Kurultai urging
them to renew their membership in the Council. Mufti reminded
that SACM left the ICC as a sign of protest against policy of
the local authorities and "facts of unsanctioned, illegal or
unapproved establishment of Orthodox symbols in public places".
However, according to Haji Ablaev, membership of representatives
of the Crimean Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv
Patriarchy in the Council "Peace is the Gods Gift" is the key
condition for return of SACM to ICC. "In our opinion, Simferopol
and Crimean Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of
Moscow Patriarchy Lazar, Head of SACM and Simferopol and Crimean
Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy
Clement shall co-chair the Council", emphasized the Mufti.

>From time to time, language conflicts worsen. Communist and
Russian ethnic organizations as well as SDPU (u) fight for
preservation of the national status of the Russian language in
the Crimea, though realities demand use of the Ukrainian and
Crimean Tatar languages. Construction of Ukrainian gymnasia in
Simferopol under the auspices of President of Ukraine Leonid
Kuchma caused strongly negative reaction of the Russian-speaking
community. The gymnasia will open in September 2004.

Attitude of Crimean residents to the April 2004 resolution of
the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting Issues
to broadcast in the Ukrainian language was cautious. Russian-
speaking organizations voiced their protest. Crimean Speaker
Borys Deich came forward stating that close attention should be
paid to specific features of the Crimea while implementing the
Council resolution. The Crimean department of SDPU (u)
considered the above decision as violation of the European
Charter of Minority Languages ratified by the Verkhovna Rada. In
due time, members of the Crimean department of SDPU (u)
collected 120,000 signatures in support of the national status
of the Russian language.

Political Preferences of Local Authorities and Administrative
Resource. Positions of Political Parties on the Eve of the
Presidential Elections. General Vision of Socio-Economic and
Political Development of the Region by Potential Candidates

Crimean political parties started their pre-election activities
long before nomination of candidates despite the fact that
structures of the Verkhovna Rada and government of ARC has not
been changed: the stable parliamentary majority of 80 MPs backed
up Crimean Speaker Borys Deich and Head of the Crimean
government Sergey Kunitsyn. Borys Deich is a member of Party of
Regions led by his first deputy Vasyl Kyseliov. Serhiy Kunitsyn
is a leader of Peoples Democratic Party. Head of the Crimean
government once said that he did not intend to leave his party.
Hence, split of the Crimean political stratum will depend on
political configuration of presidential candidates and support
of Kyiv-based headquarters of political parties.

Pre-election situation in the Crimea is caused by negative
attitude of Crimean leadership to the law on proportionate
elections to local authorities and the Crimean parliament signed
by Ukrainian President and passed by the Verkhovna Rada in
April. At parliamentary hearings, Crimean politicians voiced an
opinion that the law infringed upon the rights of the autonomy
and that the parliament of ARC should be elected on a majority
basis. Now, the Verkhovna Rada of ARC is going to address the
Constitutional Court of Ukraine regarding validity of the law
"On Elections of Members of Parliament of Local Councils,
Chairmen of Towns and Cities of Autonomous Republic of Crimea"
and its conformity with the Constitution of Ukraine and the
Constitution of Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Borys Deich told
journalists, "We will strive for protection of our legal
constitutional rights." According to the Crimean Speaker, the
above law runs counter to the Ukrainian and Crimean
Constitutions. "I am surprised that only a few MPs gave their
support to protection of the Crimean Constitution, whereas the
rest voted as they were told, contrary to their conscience and
civil position", he stressed. At the next plenary session, the
Verkhovna Rada of ARC is going to form a provisional
parliamentary commission for analysis of constitutional powers
of Autonomous Republic of Crimea established in Ukraines
legislation and make proposals for their further implementation
and enhancement.

Meanwhile, some parties, inclusive of Crimean Communist Party,
SDPU (u) and others - stand for proportionate elections in the
Crimea. In mid-April, Communist Party held a conference and
revised its electoral strategy. A coalition was formed of
Communist Party led by Leonid Hrach, the Russian Community of
the Crimea led by Serhiy Tsekov, Russian bloc of the Crimea led
by Olexandr Chornomorov and the public association "Bohdan
Khmelnytskys Successors" founded by Leonid Hrach and led by
Editor in Chief of the Crimean newspaper "Krymska Pravda"
Mykhailo Bakharev. The coalition demanded to recover the
national economy and enhance its effectiveness, prioritize
public property in means of production, cease privatization of
state-owned property, make inventory of privatized units,
declare land as national wealth, prohibit purchase and sale of
land, prioritize development of light, food and processing
industries, carry out policy encouraging Ukrainian commodity
producers, eliminate domination of financial and banking
oligarchy, stop outflow of capital, introduce state monopoly on
production and trade in alcoholic beverages and tobacco
products, considerably reduce expenses for administrative
apparatus, form government of peoples trust, render assistance
in solving the issue of deported peoples of the Crimea, restore
Crimeas health and recreation complex and grant the Russian
language the national status. Later on, after official
nomination of candidates, the coalitions position will most
likely be specified regarding definite politicians.

The Public and Political Council of Crimean democratic
organizations (PPCCDO) founded on December 10, 2003 for
coordination of actions geared toward protection of democracy
plays more and more active political role on the peninsula. Its
members are regional departments of Christian Democratic Union,
Ukrainian Peoples Party, Peoples Rukh, Socialist Party, URP
"Sobor", "Batkivshchyna", "Democratic Union" and Party of Social
Protection. PPCCDO was established following the decision of the
Forum of Democratic Forces of the Crimea initiated by Our
Ukraine and held in Simferopol on November 16, 2003.

According to Council Coordinator and representative of
Yushchenkos bloc in the Crimea Valeriy Proby-Holova, in January-
March 2004, the number of PPCCDO members increased by 30% - up
to 27 public and party organizations. Crimean departments of
Youth Party, "Ukraina Moloda", "Yabluko, SDPU (u) and the
Council of Crimean Young Scientists joined the Council."We do
not strive for number but we are sure that it is an association
of all democratic forces of Ukraine that can wrest tools of
public governance from the hands of oligarchs and corrupted
officials and use them for prosperity of the nation", said
Valeriy Proby-Holova. He accentuated that many Crimean
organizations, including Green Party, are ready to support
PPCCDO intention to make Crimean officials competent and involve
them in the struggle for democracy and protection of peoples
interests. "Some of our allies have already decided to enter the
Council", accentuated Valeriy Proby-Holova. On April 7, 2004,
PPCCDO considered the issue of support to requirement of Victor
Yushchenkos bloc to withdraw budget funds worth UAH 10 billion
from the shadow and allocate them for social needs. "Should
power ignore this requirement, the Council would hold mass
actions of protest", informed the Council Coordinator.

PPCCDO takes an active part in opening of Victor Yushchenkos
reception offices all over the Crimea. For the time being, 10
reception offices are opened in the Bilohorsk, Nyzhniohorsk,
Radyansky, Saky, Chornomorsk, Jankoi, Kerch, Feodosiya and other
regions. On April 17, a reception office was opened in Alushta.
Representative of Yushchenkos bloc in the Crimea Valeriy Proby-
Holova, ex-Prime Minister of Crimea Borys Samsonov and leader of
the Crimean department of "Batkivshchyna" Yuriy Rudenko
participated in the opening ceremony. A round table on
"Challenges of Society and the State" was held in Alushta. About
150 representatives of the local and Crimean departments of
"Batkivshchyna", "Democratic Union", Peoples Rukh, Ukrainian
Peoples Party, Green Party and Our Ukraine attended the action.
They insisted on rejection of considering another Medvedchuk-
Symonenko draft on introduction of changes to the Constitution
and voiced their support to the draft "On Urgent Measures for
Allocation of Concealed Proceeds of the 2004 National Budget"
proposed by Our Ukraine. Near the Crimean representative office
of Ukrainian President, almost 200 supporters of PPCCDO held an
action "Stop Robbing the People!" against policy of Ukrainian
government and the parliamentary majority. Participants in the
action carried slogans "Corruption is Caries of the State",
"Impoverishment of Population - Shame on the State", "The
Pension Reform - Deception of the People", "Kuchma out!" and
"Shame on the Yanukovych Government!" Representative of Our
Ukraine in the Crimea Valeriy Proby-Holova read the address of
PPCCDO and presented the Crimean representative office of
Ukrainian President with the document. He said, "If power
ignores our requirements, participants in the action will solve
the problem by all legal means. Such actions will become more
frequent. Ukrainian government shall pay attention to peoples
problems." Crimean supporters and members of Our Ukraine,
Peoples Rukh, Ukrainian Peoples Party, "Yabluko", Christian
Democratic Union and Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists
participated in the action.

Level of Access of Candidates and Their Teams to the Local
Media. Level of Access of Citizens to Information and Ability of
Civil Society Institutions to Influence the Presidential
Elections

One-time circulation of Crimean newspapers (more than 960
periodicals are officially registered, of which only 400 are
actually published) fluctuated from 1.2 to 1.5 million copies.
In the Crimea, there are 4 national and about 50 local TV and
radio broadcasting companies, over 40 local radio stations,
including those broadcasting at the FM frequency, and nearly 50
different Internet sites. Crimean authorities still own the most
popular media: the newspaper of the Verkhovna Rada of ARC
"Krymskie Izvestia" that has recently started publishing a
special page, the "Krymskiy Dialog", and the newspaper of the
Crimean government "Krymskaya Gazeta". The "Krymskaya Pravda"
and the "Krymskoe Vremya" represent interests of Communist Party
and ethnic Russian organizations. The newspaper "Respublika
Krym" supports Crimean authorities and Party of Regions.

The newspapers "Holos Kryma", "Peninsula" and "Avdet" cover
problems of the Crimean Tatars. With regard to affiliation of
Crimean Tatar political organizations to Yushchenkos bloc, the
above newspapers will work for his victory on the eve of the
presidential elections.

The national public and political newspaper "Krymska
Svitlytsya", the only Crimean edition published in the Ukrainian
language, stands for Yushchenkos bloc and democratic changes in
Ukraine and the Crimea.

Local newspapers in Crimean towns and districts are the so-
called municipal bodies and belong to local authorities.

The media system in the Crimea is still at the stage of
determination. New newspapers and Internet sites founded by
certain political forces are emerging. Meanwhile, according to
data of the Public and Political Council of Crimean democratic
organizations, 80% of the Crimean media are concentrated in the
hands of local authorities, whereas the opposition owns just
about 10% (mostly provincial ethno-cultural media). Other
political forces control the rest.


==============================================================
From: Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Research, Kiev

Reprint of the bulletin's materials is permitted subject toreference to
the source - the Ukrainian Independent Center for Political Research (UICPR).

For additional information please contact us. Tel. (044) 235-65-05, 230-91-78,
e-mail: ucipr@ucipr.kiev.ua, denn_krn@mail.ru.
Contact persons - Denys Kyriukhin and Yulia Tyshchenko.


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