Problems of Crimean residents
Review prepared by Bobrov E.A., the member of the Council, Gannushkina S.A., the head of the Network “Migration and Law” as well as by Ceytlina O.P., the lawyer of the Network. This is a review of the results of their visit to Simferopol and Sevastopol in the period between 15–18 April, 2014, meeting with state officers, journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and citizens.
(Part 1/Art. 4–March 21, 2014 N6–FKZ federal constitutional law)
There were the following problems:
S1) Despite information on the FMS site, confirmation of residence and not only information about the registration of residents face challenges in issuing passports, many residents of the Crimea–citizens of Ukraine, foreign citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in Crimea, but do not have residence registration. In the Russian FMS divisions in Simferopol and Sevastopol there is no information about the possibility of this category acquiring citizenship in the Russian Federation.
M1) people permanently living in Crimea without a registered address have problems applying for Russian citizenship as there is an information gap concerning this issue;
2) if they are owners of the accommodation they can apply for citizenship however;
3) application to keep Ukrainian citizenship was possible only after 04.01.2014. Moreover, originally there was only 1 local office that functioned to take applications for the renunciation of Russian Federation citizenship, and only 3 offices throughout Crimea (Simferopol, Belohirsk, Bakhchisarai), later there were only 8 cities where residents could do so (Yalta, Yevpatoriya, Saky, Feodosia, Djankoy, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Bakhchisaray), but this was not enough and as a result citizens it was actually physically not possible for them to file such a statement on time. Many citizens also lacked objective, complete and accurate information about the future status of “non-citizens” of Russia in the Republic of Crimea and still cannot properly assess the situation, and therefore also failed within the prescribed period to April 18, 2014 to take a fundamental decision for themselves regarding acquisition of the Russian Federation or, preservation of Ukrainian citizenship, which implies a refusal to recognize them as Russian citizens;
4) state employees are threatened with dismissal if they retain their Ukrainian citizenship;
5) Crimean Tatars are forced to become Russian citizens because they have land shares on agricultural land, which under Russian law may be provided only to citizens of the Russian Federation.
Residents fear that many will not be able to get a passport before the elections of regional and local authorities to Crimea, scheduled for September 14.
According to the Deputy Head of the Federal Migration Service of Russia in the Crimea Frolov AM, by mid-April:
• 170 000 Russian passports were issued to inhabitants of Crimea (according to official information of the Russian Federal Migration Service – 300 000);
• 1 200 people refused Russian citizenship, among them 8-10 Crimean Tatars (according to the official information of the Russian Federal Migration Service – 3000).
• there was only one court judgment to establish the fact of permanent residence in Crimea on the above-named date. It was denied due to the complainant providing, according to the court, false information.
In general, the documenting of Russian passports is very slow. According to various estimates, to certify the total population of Crimea would require not less than 15 months, although Russian legislation gave only 3 months.
According to virtually all surveyed individuals wishing to retain citizenship of Ukraine, the FMS Russia do not explain the rules of law on the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation: the need to travel after 90 days stay, the period of authorized stay of 90 days for every 180 days, the provisions on administrative responsibility for failure to comply with the rules of residence, and fines with or without expulsion, as well as the implications of refusing to recognize themselves and their minor children as citizens of the Russian Federation, with a legal status of foreign citizens, stateless persons and the need to design an appropriate instrument, as well as give the legal implications of such a decision.
Number of stateless persons in the Crimea on January 1, 2014 – 462 people.
In the newly-issued Russian passports the Federal Migration Service of Russia is indicated without specifying the name of the territorial authority, as in Crimea, they are not yet established.
Newly issued passports do not put residence registration according to city/town. If there is no uncertainty in the registration, the passport is stamped with the registration of residence without specifying the name of the territorial office of the FMS of Russia.
In Crimea 18 people have refugee status. Their legal status is in no way settled.
After the decision of the Federation Council on the authorization of the President of Russia to send troops to Ukraine there was a significant wave of migration from Crimea to Ukraine, now the migration is slowed.
Registration of Rights to Real Estate
Real estate registration are complicated issues in Crimea as there is a lack of information, lack of access to title documents over property, and legal gaps. The housing market has “risen.”
Food and Products
In the fields of industry and agriculture Crimea is only 70% self-sufficient, the rest was imported from Ukraine. There is a huge difference in price politics between Russia and Crimea–the prices of goods in Simferopol is much lower than in Russia; urgent measures to prevent growth of food prices in Crimea are necessary.
There was only one Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol where the lessons were held in the Ukrainian language. Now it is being re-orientated into Russian. The only specialized Faculty of Ukrainian-Tatar philology is being closed. This measure has to be prevented.
Lately there are slightly strained ethnic relations on the principle of whether one is a “friend or foe,” but open inter-ethnic clashes and manifestations of insurmountable hatred in general does not exist.
Religion and Church
Authorities of the new state government decided to actually eliminate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, and they are currently experiencing difficulties in extending the lease of the building the Church is in. The situation is very tense.
Islam. The new public authorities of Crimea are converting the Islamic religion into a protest ideology. Officially, the Islamic literature of Hizb ut-Tahrir is now banned by the Russian Supreme Court as extremist [since 2003 in RF] and therefore is now banned in Crimea. Islamic organizations experience pressure from the side of the new Crimean state organs.
Resonance killings, detentions and kidnappings
Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov was kidnapped, tortured and killed in March 2014. He expressed silent protest against occupation of Crimea by looking into the eyes of people from so called “self-defense” [pro-Russian militants] guarding the building outside the captured Crimean Parliament. The next day, March 3 in the morning, he went out of his house to the recruitment office and disappeared. His body was found on March 15 in a field with signs of torture, his head wrapped in tape, handcuffs on his feet. According to the investigation, his killing was an accident. His wife and three young children, the youngest 2.5 months old, are left without a father.
Ivan Selentsov was spreading the Quran in the Russian language, he was detained by the police on the day of Referendum (March 16) and tortured and not allowed a lawyer during all this time. He was then driven outside Crimea to Chonhar (Kherson region) and threatened not enter Crimea again for 30 years.
As of April 17 there have been 3 kidnapped Crimeans – they are not Crimean Tatars.
Banking system. Pensions and social benefits.
The banking system is experiencing great difficulties with the transfer of funds. Because of the nationalization of PrivatBank banks have in fact ceased to serve private clients. Not even one international bank of Russia can start its business in Crimea because Crimea has been recognized as an occupied territory. If the bank does so it will lose its status as an International bank. The National Bank of Ukraine will impose large fines for any international banks (including Russian) who come to Crimea.
The day after the referendum all social payments were discontinued. Ukrainian authorities have stated that for all citizens who retained their citizenship of Ukraine, their pensions and social benefits will be continued in full. However, now it is not clear when full banking services will be restored to retail customers. At any rate, now they are elaborating on the payment of pensions and benefits to residents of Crimea and those regions of Ukraine closest to Crimea with bank cards.
The greatest concern is the payment and receipt of funds from bank deposits of Ukrainian citizens who have acquired Russia citizenship. It also raises the questions of repayments and bank loans.
Section 2 of Article 23 of the Federal Constitutional Law No. 6-FKZ “On Admission of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and on Establishment of the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol as Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation” (March 21, 2014) contains a reservation regarding the application of Ukrainian and Crimean laws in Crimea until December 31, 2014. Nevertheless, the judicial system is already being transitioned to Russian legislation, precautionary measures are being authorized in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code of the RF, and courts have started announcing their decisions in the name of the Russian Federation.
According to Article 8 of the Law, cases that were admitted in courts and remained pending as of March 18, 2014 must be reviewed in accordance with the relevant rules promulgated by the RF legislation. In practice, however, there are problems with the consideration of cases, especially criminal and administrative ones, where the effective provisions of the Russian legislation reduce, eliminate, exclude, or – by contrast – enhance or introduce new responsibility, or guarantee rights other than those provided by legislation previously in effect (e.g., the right to a jury trial).
The situation on the media is alarming. The Russian Federation has closed a number of internet portals, print media of different directions (“AN-Crimea”, “Events of the Crimea”, “Crimean time”, “Republic”).
According to representatives of the media, the Russian legislation creates a lot of restrictions, therefore the quality of journalism will inevitably decline.
Land and the status of rural residents
When people were given land shares, which were virtually impossible to distinguish in kind, land traders intervened in these cases by deceiving people through simple business schemes. As a result, the vast majority of the land was in the ownership of merchants. Meanwhile, in Crimea, there are no large farms.
Tourism revenue in the budgets of Crimea and Sevastopol were minor, people travel mainly to be treated as patients of broncho-pulmonary diseases. Foreign international travel companies cannot come to Crimea because of the fear of heavy fines.
According to almost all survey participants and citizens :
• Inhabitants of Crimea voted not so much for joining Russia, as for the termination, in their words, of “corruption and lawlessness of the thieves of the dominant Donetsk henchmen.” Inhabitants of Sevastopol particularly voted for annexation to Russia. Fears of illegal armed groups in Sevastopol were higher than in other regions of Crimea.
• 30-50% voter turnout of all Crimean inhabitants participated in the referendum, of these, 50-60% voted for joining to Russia; 50-80% of Sevastopol inhabitants participated in the referendum, the vast majority of these voted for joining to Russia.
1. Extend Deadline for residents of Crimea on the decision to retain their citizenship of Ukraine, at least until December 31, 2014
2 . To preserve primarily ties with relatives and the unity of families living in other regions of Ukraine, to not take legislative actions designed to discard Ukrainian citizenship for residents of Crimea who do not wish to be recognized as citizens of the Russian Federation (except for cases prescribed by law associated with state, municipal or military service).
3 . Document the type of residence permits in the Russian Federation, of all residents of Crimea, foreign citizens and stateless persons who have residence permits in Ukraine, persons recognized as refugees in Ukraine, residing in the territory of Crimea, who wish to retain the citizenship of Ukraine, regardless of the presence or absence of people who are registered as residents in the territory of Crimea on March 18, 2014.
4 . Crimean residents who do not have residence registration in Crimea as of March 18, 2014 , to determine the possibility of legislative confirmation of permanent residence in the territory of the Republic of Crimea, the evidence is not necessarily coming from the registration authorities, including judicial decision. Place in the territorial bodies of FMS of Russia about this.
5 . Provide significant public awareness of the requirements of Russian legislation on the mandatory availability [presence] and consequences of the absence of persons of a particular social group of Russian citizenship.
6. Equalize residents of the Republic of Crimea and the city of federal significance, Sevastopol, in the implementation of rights to pension, medical and other social services, labor, property and land relations and education, regardless of the absence or presence of Russian citizenship. To avoid discrimination in the employment of the Crimean population, social and other rights on grounds of nationality.
7. During the transition period, the inhabitants of the Republic of Crimea, who have acquired or have not acquired citizenship of the Russian Federation, and to provide and guarantee an opportunity to ensure the implementation of these statutory rights upon presentation of a Ukrainian passport and (or) a certificate of acceptance of the application for recognition of the citizens of the Russian Federation.
8. Validate a law that guarantees the preservation and government support of existing faiths in the territory of Crimea.
9. Adopt urgent measures to restore to the ARC [Autonomous Region of Crimea] the supply of food and products, in order to avoid price increases that are due to the reorientation of trade with Ukraine into Russia.
10. Restore the Faculty of Ukrainian-Tatar Philology at the Tauride Federal University and Ukrainian school in Simferopol.
Translated by Marta Barandiy, Olga Ruda, and IW and edited by Voices of Ukraine