15 March

On the 5th anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with the Russian Federation

In March 2014 the people of Crimea have enjoyed their right to self-determination embodied in the UN Charter through a free and peaceful vote in conformity with all international standards.

Today, the Republic of Crimea and the Federal city of Sevastopol are well integrated into the single socio-economic and legal area of the Russian Federation. Moreover, Crimea is one of the most dynamically developing Russian regions. Though the peninsula is currently "aligning" its social and economic indicators with the Russian average, its growth rates are among the highest in the country. We see a target development program for the period up to 2022 being implemented, and consistent efforts taken to improve living standards and build modern infrastructure.

Since Crimea's reunion with Russia actual wages of people working in the public sector as well as pensions and allowances in Crimea have increased by 2-2.5 times and approached the all-Russia level. A good example of progress is the opening of the Crimean bridge to car traffic in May 2018. Given the transport and energy blockade against the peninsula by the Kiev authorities aimed at undermining its economy, the main function of the bridge is to facilitate an uninterrupted supply of basic necessities to the Crimean people, and a rise in their living standards.

There is a free economic zone in the territory of Crimea. Over 250 investment agreements have already been signed, 183 projects with a total investment of over USD 2.4 billion are being implemented, and 14,000 jobs are to be created within its framework. Major investment areas include agriculture (60 investment projects), development (39), industry (32), resorts and tourism (26) and transport (10).

Absolutely groundless and illegitimate so-called "anti-Crimean" restrictions are hitting primarily the ordinary residents of the peninsula. The visa refusals along with the restrictions on movement and participation in international events practiced by some countries, as well as the non-recognition of higher education documents can be actually seen as the segregation policy that "punishes" the population of the peninsula for its choice in favor of Russia.

Crimea enjoys an atmosphere of inter-ethnic accord characterized by consideration for all ethnic minorities. The government guarantees unconditional observance of international obligations in the field of human rights. Relevant measures for socio-economic support have been taken and are functioning effectively; political rehabilitation programs are being implemented. In general, the standard of living and the quality of life of the Crimeans have significantly increased in comparison with the "Ukrainian period".

Furthermore, the State ensures compliance with all international human rights obligations in the peninsula. The multi-ethnic population of Crimea fully exercises its rights to freedom of speech, assembly and mother-tongue education, including Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages having official status.

The largest ethnic minority – the Crimean Tatars – is represented by more than 30 reputable NGOs, numbering some 30 thousand people. The Coordination Council of Crimean Tatars to the Head of the Republic of Crimea, established in February 2018 and headed by mufti Emirali Ablaev, operates in close cooperation with the Crimean authorities. The Crimean Tatars are represented in all government bodies of the peninsula, including security and law enforcement agencies, proportionate to their share in Crimea's population.

Fabricated stories about the alleged suppression of the Crimean Tatars and violation of their rights are a deliberate falsification of the realities of life of these people. The full-fledged Crimean Tatar national-cultural autonomy has been established, and the participation of its representatives in the local government bodies has been ensured. Contrary to the speculations, the local Tatars are not massively leaving anywhere and overwhelmingly give a positive assessment to the situation in the peninsula.

The criminal prosecution of members of banned organizations in Russia (Mejlis and Hizb ut-Tahrir) is performed in strict compliance with the existing Russian legislation and has no any political, religious or ethnic underlying reasons. The decisions taken by the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation on the grounds of transparent and evidence-based processes, irrespective of whether they concern individuals or organizations, should be respected by the international community.

The aspiration of some countries to present the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and its leaders – Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov – as the voice of interests of all Crimean Tatar people is perplexing. This "body" is not officially registered in any country and has no influence in the peninsula.

The International Court of Justice, in its prior/preliminary decision of April 19, 2017, acknowledged the unsubstantiated nature of allegations of "suppression" against the Crimean Tatar People under the suit for the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1956 (Ukraine v. Russian Federation). The same has been acknowledged by many foreign public figures, including from Western countries, who visited Crimea.

The politically motivated nature of the information campaign launched against our country concerning the alleged human rights problems in Crimea is obvious. The case related to the adoption by the UN General Assembly in December 2018 of annual UN resolution on human rights situation in Crimea initiated by Kiev and supported by the US and the EU countries is illustrative as the majority of the countries either abstained from voting or did not support anti-Russian actions. Any discussions as to the reunification of the peninsula with the Russian Federation are meaningless: the Republic of Crimea and the Federal city of Sevastopol are fully integrated into our political, legislative and economic area. Russia, on legal grounds and in accordance with its Constitution, exercises its state sovereignty in the territory of the Crimean peninsula, including measures to strengthen the country's defensive potential. We are pleased to note that the majority of countries did not approve, in one form or another, a draft resolution on the "militarization" of Crimea as well as parts of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, submitted by Ukraine to the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

We note with satisfaction the growing number of people having unbiased opinion on the situation in Crimea, and the interest in cooperating with it from foreign businesses, civil society and political circles. Over the past year, over 40 major international events took place in Crimea including the XII International Festival "The Great Russian Word", the III International Livadia Forum and the IV Yalta International Economic Forum which turned into a representative platform for a constructive discussion of the Crimean issue and promotion of investment opportunities on the peninsula.

The growth of the tourist flow in Crimea, which has continued in recent years, accelerated markedly in 2018 and reached 6.5 million people (in 2014 the peninsula was visited by less than 4 million people). The opening of the Crimean Bridge for road traffic has led to a nearly 25% increase in the number of travelers coming to Crimea.

Russia is committed to fulfilling its international obligations throughout the territory of the country, including in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. We are ready to conduct a dialogue with the specialized intergovernmental entities within the procedures applicable to their compliance by the Russian Federation in its territory, as well as accept their missions in Crimea if they are sent within the mandate of a particular organization in accordance with all procedures applicable to visiting our country. We invite everybody to visit Crimea to see first-hand that things are going well there.

Any attempts to qualify the all-Crimean referendum of 16 March 2014 as wrongful and blame Russia of occupation are baseless in terms of international law. This has been proven by the conclusions of renowned foreign legal experts and assessments of prominent politicians.

The returns of March 18, 2018 Russian Presidential elections in Crimea confirm the expression of its people's will in 2014. The high turnout (71.43% of electoral list) and Vladimir Putin's landslide victory (92.2% or 986 700 of votes), as well as the lack of statistically significant support for the alternative Crimean agenda of a number of candidates (which included, among others, another plebiscite on the ownership of the peninsula) vividly demonstrate the stability and mass support by Crimean residents for the course of the federal center.