Ukrainian Armed Forces are close. What will happen to Crimea after returning to Ukraine: interview with Deputy Minister of Reintegration Anatoliy Stelmakh

Опубліковано 26 January 2023 року, о 15:30

Crimea is a legitimate goal of Ukraine. But after the return of the peninsula, many problems will have to be solved. Recently, there have been more and more confident statements that Crimea will be de-occupied. If earlier it was mainly Ukrainians who believed in this, now more and more civilized countries are in favor of returning the peninsula to Ukraine. Anatoliy Stelmakh, Deputy Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, shared what to expect after the return of Crimea. This is reported by ReInform with reference to Telegraf.

– The media is reporting more and more often that the US has softened its attitude to Ukraine’s return of Crimea by military means and intends to actively support our intention. What can you say about such statements?

– Crimea was and stays Ukrainian. The entire civilized world recognizes that this territory belongs to Ukraine. Our partners have repeatedly given us signals that we must liberate our land by any means necessary. This includes military means. The Western coalition is actively helping us with this. At the same time, the full-scale war has shown that any negotiations with the aggressor further fuel his appetite and he is not going to make compromises. Officials from the Joseph Biden administration are increasingly convinced that strikes on the rear military facilities in Crimea could seriously undermine Moscow’s ability to carry out any actions along the entire front line. Not to mention the possibility of at least somehow moving it forward. So sooner or later, Crimea will be liberated. And we have all the potential to do so.

– In your opinion, will the liberation of Crimea be an unexpected step for the authorities? Has the state been preparing for the reintegration of the peninsula for all the previous years?

– The Ministry of Reintegration is already carrying out relevant work and is a direct participant in all the processes that precede the further return of the peninsula to the legal, informational, socio-economic, cultural, educational and political life of Ukraine. Back in 2021, the President approved the Strategy for the De-occupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, and the Government approved the plan for its implementation, which was developed by our Ministry. Of course, some points need to be updated and adjusted, the process does not stop!

A personnel reserve is being created to restore the activities of public authorities, law enforcement agencies, courts, etc. This is currently being done by a working group of about 40 experts.

The Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations is recording violations of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of Ukrainian citizens. Legal procedures are being introduced to return everything that was illegally taken away by the occupiers and their minions. Property that has been nationalized or resold several times will certainly be returned to its rightful owners. The Ukrainian authorities are monitoring this process.

Sanctions lists are also constantly being updated and prepared for submission to the Cabinet of Ministers. The lists contain information about individuals and legal entities involved in human rights violations in Crimea during the temporary occupation.

The Strategy for the Development of the Crimean Tatar Language for 2022-2032 is worth mentioning as well. As part of this strategy, the Ministry of Reintegration initiated the creation of the National Crimean Tatar Language Corpus (NCTLC). This is an online platform that serves as an open database of educational, scientific and other materials. Currently, we are collecting printed and online sources for this purpose. The goal of the project is to make the Crimean Tatar language widely used, to research and develop it, and to encourage its implementation in operating systems, online translators, etc.

Also, earlier this year, the Government adopted a resolution “On the Establishment of the National Commission for the Crimean Tatar Language” developed by the Ministry of Reintegration.

In addition, the Ministry of Reintegration participated in the drafting of the Presidential Decree “On the Establishment of the Day of the Crimean Tatar Language and Literature”.

All these activities and projects are part of the overall Strategy for the Restoration of Crimea after De-occupation and the Restoration Strategy of Ukraine as a whole. Their implementation is evidence that Ukraine will return Crimea sooner or later.

– What will the general concept of Crimea’s recovery be based on?

– For more than 30 years of Ukraine’s independence, humanity, respect for human rights and openness of civil society have become the basic values in the lives of our compatriots. Throughout the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, Russian aggressors have been openly trampling on these values and trying to destroy them. Therefore, the general concept of restoring Crimea after de-occupation will be based primarily on making it comfortable for people and open to the world. Its population should be able to live in a society free from harassment, violence and militarization. Crimea should become the best and safest place not only in Ukraine but also on the continent.

When implementing this concept, we must remember that Crimea is home to three indigenous peoples: The Crimean Tatars, The Crimean Karaites (Krymkaraylar), and The Krymchaks. Therefore, it is necessary to develop and restore the peninsula considering their needs. The intertwining of different cultures should be the basis of relations between the inhabitants of Crimea in the future. In this way, Ukraine, as a state, will fulfill its obligations to preserve and develop indigenous peoples, and will be able to develop its tourism potential and popularize cultural and educational projects.

– What are the priority steps the state should take after de-occupation?

– First of all, we must restore and develop all the positive things that Ukrainian Crimea had been known for before the occupation by Russia, overcome the consequences of the economic and legal crisis and militarization.

During the transition period, military and civil-military administrations will operate in Crimea. They need to be staffed with qualified personnel. As I mentioned above, we are currently creating a personnel reserve and training relevant specialists. They will also include internally displaced persons from Crimea, civilian military personnel, as well as those who did not betray Ukraine while living in Crimea.

The next step is transitional justice: the issue of protection of human rights, bringing to justice those who collaborated with the occupiers, as well as amnesty and lustration.

The population that has illegally entered the peninsula must leave the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol voluntarily or through forced deportation. This will directly affect the indigenous Russian citizens who settled in Crimea after the occupation. In my opinion, this is the most optimal solution that can be applied and will not contradict international law.

Obviously, there will be exceptions. For example, for lawyers who came from Russia, lived in Crimea and helped political prisoners, or for wives of political prisoners, or for people who were in the process of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship and had a residence permit at the time of 2014, etc.

Inevitability of liability is important. All those who committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, engaged in political persecution, confiscated property, spread Russian propaganda, or trained children to serve in the Russian army will be punished as they deserve. First and foremost, we are talking about top officials of the occupation administrations who made administrative decisions.

Restoring the economy and infrastructure is important, first of all, focusing on the tourism sector. We expect a significant increase in tourist flows from mainland Ukraine and partner countries. So, first of all, we are talking about sanatoriums, recreation centers, health centers, etc. At the same time, it is important to launch regular passenger flights, cruise routes, resume air traffic, sea transportation, port operations, etc.

Along with the above-mentioned measures, gradual and, most importantly, more active Ukrainization will take place. The Ukrainian language will be used primarily in public and educational institutions. After all, everything that has happened in this direction in the past has proven to be ineffective. The policy of Ukrainianization of Crimea needs to be pursued more actively. In general, Crimeans will not live the way they used to.

– What should ordinary Crimeans do in the event of an active offensive by the Ukrainian armed forces and what should they prepare for?

– When the Ukrainian Armed Forces approach, the first thing to do is not to endanger your life. If possible, leave the peninsula through third countries. I advise those people whom Russian criminals are trying to conscript into their army to avoid mobilization by all means. After all, if a person simply lived in Crimea, it is one thing. But if they took up arms, they have a completely different legal status.

To those people who were forced to get Russian passports, I would advise you not to get rid of your Ukrainian documents, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are coming. All of our allies are unanimous that Crimea is a legitimate goal of Ukraine, as it is our territory, recognized by the whole world.

Basically, I would advise you to take these things very seriously and recall the example of Kherson. There, the Russians and their minions also shouted that Russia was there forever. Their expectations changed immediately after the arrival of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Those who managed to escape are now hiding in remote corners of the Russian Federation and have nothing but a reputation as traitors. Those who remain will be brought to justice for their actions.

Photo: telegraf.com.ua