Crimea Will Be Either Russian or Turkish
compiled by Dominique Arel
10 July 2004
Crimea Will Be Either Russian or Turkish
Izvestia, July 6, 2004, p. 4
by Yanina Sokolova
Translated by What The Papers Say, 6 July
Crimean Minister of Tourism Alexander Taryanik suggests that the southern coast of the Crimea from Alushta to Sudak be leased to Russia for 99 years. Taryanik is convinced that Russia needs the Crimea desperately because it has a lot of money but few seas. Chechen Wahhabi and Ukrainian authorities alone prevent the lease of the peninsula, according to Leonid Grach - author of the idea who sits on the Crime Committee of the Ukrainian Rada, former chairman of the Crimean parliament.
Question: The Crimea was handed over to Ukraine 50 years ago this year. Do you want to make it Russian again?
Leonid Grach: Ukraine did not absorb the Crimea as such. Kiev never was the master of the peninsula. The decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on transfer of the Crimean region to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic never changed anything in the Crimea or its position. It lives by itself regardless of who is its formal owner.
Russia has its own historic, military-strategic, and geopolitical interests in the Crimea. Russia understands what processes are taking place there nowadays. It is Turkish and Arab positions that are getting consolidated in the Crimea nowadays, not Russian or Ukrainian.
Nobody advocates a political return of the peninsula to Russia. Moscow may get it economically. Russian property and capitals become major in the Crimea. We've done a lot to accomplish it. We've established contacts with Kuban and Moscow. Members of the Crimean Supreme Council even sold their dachas to the Russian Bank of National Reserves. The latter took the risk and did more than bring capitals to the peninsula. It overcame the dominating tendencies in bankers' psychology. Russians should invest in the Crimea. After all, the Crimea, Russia, and Ukraine are one and the same fatherland.
Question: All the same, Crimean Parliament Chairman Boris Deutsch says that the lease of the Crimea to Russia is impossible nowadays.
Leonid Grach: Moscow does not object to seeing Russian businessmen coming to the Crimea. Not so the Ukrainian authorities that are clearly guided by the principle "I cannot handle it myself but neither will you". The same applies to the lease of the coast too. The Crimea on the whole will never be leased to Russia, just like Sevastopol on the whole will not be leased to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Rada will never vote for it because Ukrainian lawmakers are afraid of showing their loyalty to Russia. In the meantime, the land will eventually find itself in foreign hands - neither Ukrainian nor Russian.
Turkey may lay claims to the Crimea. The Russian-Turkish treaty signed 220 years ago states that Turkey may demand it back unless the peninsula is Russian.
Question: More and more Chechens visit the Crimea for the purposes of medical treatment and recuperation. They even settle there...
Leonid Grach: Wahhabi ideas made their way to the Crimea over three years ago. It was a "crawling intervention" at first, but today it is an undeniable tendency. There was the widespread opinion here that Wahhabi ideas were a Russian problem only. No more. Wahhabi ideas are here. The distance between Simferopol and Chechnya is only 700 kilometers.
Chechens use figureheads to buy apartments in Feodosiya and other cities. In Bakhchisarai they have headquarters of the gang controlling the Saki, Bakhchisarai, and Yalta-Alushta zones. A terrorist camp was even discovered on the Ai-Petri mountain.
Russians' positions are under attack. Land in Saki is being confiscated from them. Wahhabi are very active in Sevastopol and its environs... It will dawn on Kiev sooner or later that it does not have to argue with Moscow over the Crimea - because the peninsula is not Ukrainian or Russia anymore.
Powerful Russian capitals in the Crimea are the only cure, the only way of avoiding aggravation of tension. For the time being, unfortunately, Arab emissaries are buying the Crimean lands. Wahhabi even cluster in Foros, Mikhail Gorbachev's former dacha that became Leonid Kuchma's summer residence.