Transfer of Crimea in the Soviet Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from 1954 transfer of Crimea)

Transfer of Crimea in the Soviet Union
Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet "About the transfer of the Crimean Oblast", Supreme Council Herald, 9 March 1954
Date1954
LocationSoviet Union
Participants
Outcome

The transfer of the Crimean oblast in the Soviet Union in 1954 was an administrative action of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet that transferred the government of Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Background[edit]

Prior to being incorporated into the Russian Empire, the Crimean Peninsula was independent under the Crimean Khanate. The Muslim Turkic Crimean Tatars were under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, while also bordering Russian Empire. In 1774, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, the Russian and Ottoman empires agreed to refrain from interfering with the Crimean Khanate through the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca. In 1783, following the increasing decline of the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire annexed the Crimean Khanate.

Within Russia, the peninsula was transferred between multiple internal administrations. Through its time in the Russian Empire and the Russian SFSR, up to its transfer to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, Crimea had been administered by 14 administrations.

Throughout its time in the Soviet Union, Crimea underwent a population change. As a result of alleged collaboration with the Germans by Crimean Tatars during World War II, all Crimean Tatars were deported by the Soviet regime and the peninsula was resettled with other peoples, mainly Russians and Ukrainians. Modern experts say that the deportation was part of the Soviet plan to gain access to the Dardanelles and acquire territory in Turkey, where the Tatars had Turkic ethnic kin, or to remove minorities from the Soviet Union's border regions.[1]

Nearly 8,000 Crimean Tatars died during the deportation, and tens of thousands perished subsequently due to the harsh exile conditions.[2] The Crimean Tatar deportation resulted in the abandonment of 80,000 households and 150,000 hectares (360,000 acres) of land.

The autonomous republic without its titled nationality was downgraded to an oblast within the Russian SFSR on 30 June 1945.

On 19 February 1954, the oblast was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian SSR,[3] on the basis of "the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR"[4] and to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's union with Russia (also known in the Soviet Union as the Pereiaslav Agreement).[5][6]

Sevastopol became a closed city due to its importance as the port of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and was attached to the Crimean Oblast only in 1978.[citation needed]

Decree[edit]

On 19 February 1954, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union issued a decree transferring the Crimean Oblast from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The documents which are now housed at the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) do confirm that the move was originally approved by the Presidium (Politburo) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on 25 January 1954, paving the way for the authorizing resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union three weeks later.[7] According to the Soviet Constitution (article 18), the borders of a republic within the Soviet Union could not be re-drawn without the agreement of the republic in question. The transfer was approved by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. The constitutional change (articles 22 and 23) to accommodate the transfer was made several days after the decree issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.[8][9]

The decree was first announced, on the front page of Pravda, on 27 February 1954.[10] The full text of the decree was:[11]

On April 26, 1954 The decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring the Crimea Oblast from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet decrees:

To approve the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian SFSR Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet on the transfer of the Crimea Province from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

Consequently, amendments were made to the republican constitutions of Russia and Ukraine. On 2 June 1954 the Supreme Soviet of Russia adopted amendments to the Russian Constitution of 1937, which, among other things, excluded Crimea from list of subdivisions enumerated in article 14, and on 17 June 1954, the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine added Crimea to article 18 of the 1937 Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR.[12][13]

Question of constitutionality[edit]

According to a 2009 article on Russian website Pravda.ru, the Presidium of the Supreme Council gathered for a session on 19 February 1954 when only 13 of 27 members were present. There was no quorum, but the decision was adopted unanimously.[14]

Mark Kramer professor of Cold War Studies at Harvard University countered that new sources have emerged showing that the republic parliaments of both the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian SSR had given their consent to the transfer of Crimea and so had complied with Article 18 of the Soviet Constitution which stated that "the territory of a Union Republic may not be altered without its consent.", with the proceedings of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium meeting indicate that both the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian SSR had given their consent via their republic parliaments, although Kramer also said that the "legal system in the Soviet Union was mostly a fiction".[15]

On 27 June 2015, after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation accepted the request of the leader of A Just Russia party, Sergey Mironov, to evaluate the legitimacy of 1954 transfer of Crimea and stated that the transfer violated both the Constitution of the Russian SFSR [Wikidata] and the Constitution of the Soviet Union. The text of the document signed by Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sabir Kekhlerov stated: "Neither the Constitution of the RSFSR nor the Constitution of the USSR [and, by extension, of the UkSSR] empowers the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to consider changes in the constitutional legal status of Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics, which are members of the union republics. In view of the above, the decision adopted in 1954 by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and the Soviet on the transfer of the Crimean region of the RSFSR to the UkSSR did not correspond to the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the RSFSR or the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the USSR."[16]

Motivation[edit]

1954 Soviet propaganda stamp marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's reunification with Russia.

The transfer of the Crimean oblast to Ukraine has been described as a "symbolic gesture", marking the 300th anniversary of the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav, called the "Reunification of Ukraine with Russia" in the Soviet Union.[11][17][18] It was also attributed to Communist Party first secretary Nikita Khrushchev, although the person who signed the document was Chairman Kliment Voroshilov, the Soviet Union's de jure head of state.[19]

Mark Kramer, professor of Cold War Studies at Harvard University, also claimed that the transfer was partly to help Khruschev's then-precarious political position against the Prime Minister Georgii Malenkov through winning support of the First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party Oleksiy Kyrychenko. Kramer believed that the transfer also aimed to greatly increase the number of ethnic Russians in the Ukrainian SSR which itself was going through problems integrating previous Polish territory due to organized Ukrainian nationalist resistance.[20]

Nina Khrushcheva, a political scientist and the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushchev, said of his motivation, "it was somewhat symbolic, somewhat trying to reshuffle the centralized system and also, full disclosure, Nikita Khrushchev was very fond of Ukraine, so I think to some degree it was also a personal gesture toward his favorite republic. He was ethnically Russian, but he really felt great affinity with Ukraine."[11] Sergei Khrushchev, Khrushchev's son, claimed that the decision was due to the building of a hydro-electric dam on the Dnieper River and the consequent desire for all the administration to be under one body.[21] Since Sevastopol in Crimea was the site of the Black Sea Fleet, a quintessential element of Soviet and then of Russian foreign policy, the transfer had the intended effect of binding Ukraine inexorably to Russia, "Eternally Together", as a poster commemorating the event proclaimed. Other reasons given were the integration of the economies of Ukraine and Crimea and the idea that Crimea was a natural extension of the Ukrainian steppes.[22] There was also a desire to repopulate parts of Crimea with Slavic peoples, mainly Russians and Ukrainians, after the peninsula was subject to large-scale criminal deportations of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia by the Soviet regime in 1944.[23]

Aftermath[edit]

The transfer increased the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine by almost a million people. Prominent Russian politicians such as Alexander Rutskoy considered the transfer to be controversial.[24] Controversies surrounding the legality of the transfer remained a sore point in relations between Ukraine and Russia for the first few years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and in particular in the internal politics of Crimea.

In January 1992, the Supreme Soviet of Russia questioned the constitutionality of the transfer, accusing Nikita Khrushchev of treason against the Russian people and said that the transfer was illegitimate.[25] Alexander Rutskoy, the former Vice President of Russia, said that this was a “harebrained scheme”, and that those who signed the document must have been suffering from sunstroke or hangovers.[26]

There was confusion about the status of Sevastopol and whether it was a part of the transfer as it had a degree of independence from the Crimean Oblast and never formally ratified the transfer,[27] although it was later mentioned as Ukrainian territory in the Soviet Constitution and the Belavezha Accords between Ukraine and Russia.[27]

In 1994, a Russian nationalist administration under Yuriy Meshkov took over in Crimea with the promise to return Crimea to Russia, although these plans were later shelved.[28] In a 1997 treaty between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Russia recognized Ukraine's borders, and accepted Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea.[29] The treaty expired on 31 March 2019.

2014 Russian annexation of Crimea[edit]

After the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, the territories of Sevastopol and Crimea were seized by the Russian Federation; the annexation was formalized following a referendum in which 96% of the Crimean population is reported to have voted "Yes." This move was denounced by the Ukrainian government and disregarded by most UN states, which continue to recognize Crimea as part of Ukraine.[30][31] The Venice Commission (an advisory body of the Council of Europe in the field of constitutional law) issued an opinion in 2014, concluding that the referendum was illegal under the Ukrainian constitution and that "circumstances in Crimea did not allow the holding of a referendum in line with European democratic standards."[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bezverkha, Anastasia (4 August 2015). "Reinstating Social Borders between the Slavic Majority and the Tatar Population of Crimea: Media Representation of the Contested Memory of the Crimean Tatars' Deportation". Journal of Borderlands Studies. Informa UK Limited. 32 (2): 127–139. doi:10.1080/08865655.2015.1066699. ISSN 0886-5655. S2CID 148535821.
  2. ^ Rywkin, Michael (1994). Moscow's lost empire. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. p. 67. ISBN 1-56324-236-2. OCLC 28889426.
  3. ^ "Chronology for Crimean Russians in Ukraine". Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  4. ^ Calamur, Krishnadev (27 February 2014). "Crimea: A Gift To Ukraine Becomes A Political Flash Point". NPR. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  5. ^ Ragozin, Leonid (16 March 2019). "Annexation of Crimea: A masterclass in political manipulation". Al Jazeera.
  6. ^ Crimea profile – Overview BBC News. Retrieved 30 December 2015
  7. ^ Mark Kramer (19 March 2014). "Why Did Russia Give Away Crimea Sixty Years Ago?".
  8. ^ "The Gift of Crimea". www.macalester.edu. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  9. ^ Ignatius, David (2 March 2014). "Historical claim shows why Crimea matters to Russia". PunditFact, PolitiFact.com. Tampa Bay Times.
  10. ^ Siegelbaum, Lewis, 1954: The Gift of Crimea, SovietHistory.org, archived from the original on 10 March 2014, retrieved 3 March 2014
  11. ^ a b c Calamur, Krishnadev (27 February 2014). "Crimea: A Gift To Ukraine Becomes A Political Flash Point". NPR. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  12. ^ Dmitry Karaichev (11 January 2013). Мифы о незаконности передачи Крыма в 1954 году [Myth of illegality of the 1954 transfer of Crimea]. Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (in Russian). Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  13. ^ Yarmysh, Oleksandr; Cherviatsova, Alina (2016). "Transferring Crimea from Russia to Ukraine: Historical and Legal Analysis of Soviet Legislation". In Nicolini, Matteo; Palermo, Francesco; Milano, Enrico (eds.). Law, Territory and Conflict Resolution Law as a Problem and Law as a Solution. BRILL. pp. 151–152. ISBN 9789004311299. Retrieved 28 February 2018. However, at that time, Ukraine could not fully claim jurisdiction over Crimea. Indeed, further legislative acts and constitutional amendments were needed to legitimise the territorial changes in that region. On 2 June 1954, the Supreme Council of the Russian SFSR adopted the Law on the introduction of changes and amendments to Article 14 of the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the SFSR, according to which the Crimean Region was excluded from Soviet Russia at the same time that the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SFSR introduced changes to the Ukrainian Constitution.
  14. ^ "USSR's Nikita Khrushchev gave Russia's Crimea away to Ukraine in only 15 minutes". pravda.ru. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Why Did Russia Give Away Crimea Sixty Years Ago?". wilsoncenter.org. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Генпрокуратура РФ: передача Крыма Украине в 1954–м была незаконной". BBC. 27 June 2015.
  17. ^ Arutunyan, Anna (2 March 2014). "Russia testing the waters on Ukraine invasion". USA Today. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  18. ^ Keating, Joshua (25 February 2014). "Khrushchev's Gift". Slate. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," 19 February 1954, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, GARF, f.7523 op.57, d.963, ll. 1-10. Published in "Istoricheskii arkhiv," issue 1, vol. 1 (1992). Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119638
  20. ^ "Why Did Russia Give Away Crimea Sixty Years Ago?". wilsoncenter.org. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  21. ^ Khrushchev's Son: Giving Crimea Back to Russia Not an Option, Andre de Nesnera, Voice of America, 6 March 2014
  22. ^ "The Transfer of Crimea to Ukraine". International Committee for Crimea. July 2005. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  23. ^ To understand Crimea, take a look back at its complicated history, Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, 27 February 2014
  24. ^ Vladimir P. Lukin, “Our Security Predicament”, Foreign Policy, No. 88 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 57–75
  25. ^ USSR's Nikita Khrushchev gave Russia's Crimea away to Ukraine in only 15 minutes, Pravda.ru, 19 February 2009
  26. ^ Page 5, Crimea: Dynamics, Challenges and Prospects, edited by Maria Drohobycky
  27. ^ a b Forget Kiev. The Real Fight Will Be for Crimea, Andrei Malgin, Moscow Times, 25 February 2014
  28. ^ Celestine Bohlen, Russia vs. Ukraine: A Case of the Crimean Jitters, The New York Times (23 March 1994).
  29. ^ Subtelny, Orest, Ukraine: A History (University of Toronto Press) 2000, ISBN 0-8020-8390-0, 600
  30. ^ "Ukraine Crisis: World Leaders React to Unfolding Disaster in Crimea". International Business Times. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  31. ^ "Sanctions threat grows as Ukraine tensions rise". Mainichi Shimbun. 4 March 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  32. ^ Opinion no. 762 / 2014, Venice Commission (21 March 2014).

External links[edit]