World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Ukraine : Overview
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - Ukraine : Overview, 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4954ce5123.html [accessed 19 April 2015]|
The Republic of Ukraine, formerly called the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkSSR), is situated between the Russian Federation to the east, Belarus to the north, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the west, and the Black Sea to the south.
Main languages: Ukrainian, Russian.
Main religions: Christianity (Orthodox and Uniate Catholic).
As recorded in the 2001 census, the main minority groups include Russians 8,334,100 (17.3%), Belarusians 275,800 (0.6%), Moldovans 258,600 (0.5%), Crimean Tatars 248,200 (0.5%) and Bulgarians 204,600 (0.4%). Ukraine also has smaller populations of Poles, Jews, Romanians, Armenians, Hungarians and other nationalities.
By 1989, although Russians were only in the majority in Crimea, they formed sizeable minorities in many of the other regions. The numerical strength of the Russians is reinforced by the importance of the Russian language in the republic. The 2001 Ukrainian census indicated that 14.8 per cent of ethnic Ukrainians considered Russian their first language. There continues to be extensive bilingualism in Ukraine and many of those who identified themselves as Ukrainian-speakers also know Russian very well. The Russian-Ukrainian linguistic boundary is itself fluid, especially in the central and eastern parts of the country, where a hybrid vernacular known as surzhik is widely used.
Since the 1989 census a sizeable emigration has severely depleted the Jewish population, which in 2001 accounted for 103,600 people or 0.2 per cent of the population. At the same time, a lively Jewish cultural and religious life has developed in many parts of Ukraine. Jews have also organized a Jewish Congress. Jews are largely settled in Russified urban areas and the majority of them are Russian-speakers (91 per cent). The Ukrainian government has made significant efforts to foster good relations with the Jewish community and has also sought close contacts with Israel. There are, however, numerous anti-Semitic groups active in Ukraine.
There are 151,000 Romanians and 258,600 Moldovans in Ukraine. Determining the exact number of each group is controversial because of uncertainty about the nature of Moldovan identity (see Moldova). Northern Bukovyna (Chernivtsi) and southern Bessarabia (parts of the Odessa Oblast) were transferred from Romania to the UkSSR under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (23 August 1939). The Romanian/Moldovan population of Chernivsti has been active since independence demanding cultural and political concessions from the Ukrainian Government, particularly special language rights in areas of compact settlement.
In December 1991, some Romanians/Moldovans in Chernivsti are reported to have boycotted the referendum on Ukrainian independence. The Romanian government declared the referendum void in the area and has sought to raise the issue of the 1939 territorial transfer in negotiations with Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has refused to discuss the territorial question or to repudiate the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement.
Ethnic Bulgarians are concentrated in the Odessa region, around the town of Bolhrad and on the Zaporizhian coast. As with the Bulgarians in Moldova, the Bulgarian government has sought to build ties to the Bulgarian minority in Ukraine.
In 1941, 350,000 Germans were exiled from Ukraine. In 1992 Germany and Ukraine agreed that Ukraine would resettle up to 400,000 Germans from Russia/Kazakhstan in the southern districts of Ukraine. Settlement has been limited, with most Germans preferring to relocate to Germany itself. Those Germans who have moved to Ukraine have received some assistance from the German government.
Ethnic divisions in Ukraine are, to a large extent, a legacy of imperial political geography and different conceptions of history held by the peoples of the region. Since the thirteenth century, Ukrainian lands have been at the intersection of shifting empires – the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimean Tatar Khanate, Austro-Hungary and Russia. The prolonged experience of borderland status – Ukraina means borderland – has produced a society consisting of a variety of religions, cultures, ethnic groups and languages but little in the way of common institutions to mediate these diverse interests.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet system, which had ensured the primacy of Russians and Russified regions over other ethnic groups and regions, was challenged by new political forces, primarily Ukrainian nationalists. The struggle for power that developed from the late 1980s fostered the emergence of a complex series of interlinked regional and minority problems.
At the heart of contemporary ethnic relations in Ukraine are the competing historical interpretations of the region held by different ethno-linguistic groups. The prevailing Ukrainian historiography, supported particularly by western Ukrainians and the Ukrainian intelligentsia, identifies the emergence of a Ukrainian people separate from the Russians. It is claimed that this identity manifested itself on three occasions when something resembling an independent Ukraine was established: first, the state of Kyivan Rus, which existed from the ninth to the twelfth centuries and collapsed due to internal unrest and Mongol-Tatar invasion – Kyiv was sacked in 1240; second, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Zaporozhian Cossacks established a number of autonomous territories within central and eastern Ukraine; finally, in the period 1917-18 a number of 'Ukraines' came briefly into existence before being crushed by external forces. By the early 1920s, the territories that constitute modern Ukraine were divided between Romania, Poland, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.
For Russians, in contrast, Ukraine, in terms of both territory and people, is seen to have been historically an organic part of Russia. Most Russian historians take Kyivan Rus to be the forerunner of the modern Russian state. Kyiv occupies a central place in Russia's political mythology and reclaiming 'Russian' territory lost with the Mongol invasion has been an important justification for Russian expansion to the west. The territorial vision of the region has been reinforced by an ethno-cultural theory that links Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians ('three brotherly peoples') who together constitute 'the Russian people'.
In the past, the Russian interpretation of history has been used to justify the introduction of Russian institutions into Ukraine, as well as language, culture and Russian settlers. In imperial Russia, the southern Ukrainian lands were known as Malorossiya (Little Russia) or New Russia, which with Russia and the lands of Belarus constituted the 'natural' territory of the Russian state. At the same time, Moscow-inspired policies of modernization fostered a progressive integration of the Ukrainian borderlands into the political and economic core of the Russian Empire.
In Tsarist Russia Ukrainian was viewed not as a separate language but as a dialect of Russian and its use as a means of public communication was restricted. The local intelligentsia was also drawn into the Russian cultural orbit. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was absorbed into the Russian Orthodox Church in the late seventeenth century. Although it was briefly revived in the 1920s and 1940s, it was not to re-emerge fully until 1990. The western territories also contained significant numbers of Ukrainians from the Uniate Church.
The Soviet period
While Ukrainian lands remained subordinated to Moscow following the 1917 revolution, Bolshevik rule did lead to an important change in the relationship between Russia and Ukraine. For the first time, the view that Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians constituted a single people was officially repudiated in Moscow. In the years after the civil war, three separate Slavic republics were established. However, as power was centralized in the Soviet state, pro-Ukrainian policies were reversed. Russian language became compulsory in all secondary schools throughout the republic and it became difficult to publish material in Ukrainian.
Along with the establishment of Ukraine as a separate political unit, the most significant change that took place under Soviet rule was the three-stage territorial annexation along Ukraine's western border. In 1939, the Red Army occupied the predominately Ukrainian territories of Poland; in 1940, Soviet Ukraine was extended to include northern Bukovyna and Bessarabia (from Romania). Finally, in 1945 union with Transcarpathia was effected. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation to Ukraine.
In 1944, following liberation from Nazi occupation, the peninsula's populations of Tatars, Bulgarians, Armenians and Greeks were deported after being accused of collaboration with the Nazis. In June 1945, the peninsula lost its autonomous status and became part of the Russian Federation. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to the jurisdiction of Ukraine as a symbol of the friendship between Ukrainians and Russians.
With large numbers of Russians living on the peninsula, the majority of whom were recent migrants, following independence Crimea became the centre for pro-Russian and secessionist sentiments in Ukraine. Tension in the area stems from a mixture of fear of Ukrainianization and Crimea's difficult socio-economic position. The region is one of the poorest in Ukraine and is overpopulated. The increased pressure on resources brought about by the return of the Tatars from Central Asia has helped to channel social and economic competition into ethno-political confrontation. Russians, Tatars and Ukrainians, who are largely settled in the north of the peninsula, have all sought to establish their own ethnically exclusive organisations.
The long history of settlement by different peoples in Ukraine has created a set of overlapping and competitive identities among the population. With the territory of contemporary Ukraine only unified in the last fifty years and an independent Ukraine an even more recent development, uniting these diverse peoples within a single state has proved difficult. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, forging a national identity capable of uniting the various regions and peoples of Ukraine became one of the central tasks facing the Ukrainian leadership. The range of identities that have emerged in Ukraine over the centuries have since independence manifested themselves in the form of ethno-regionalist movements. Ukraine's relationship to Russia has been especially difficult because of the large number of Russians in Ukraine and the shared history, as well as the close cultural and linguistic ties between Ukrainians and Russians.
In response to these challenges, the Ukrainian political elite has, with important exceptions, sought to foster a multiethnic and territorial sense of nationhood among the population. Ukrainianization has been pursued in a perfunctory fashion and has been largely abandoned in heavily Russified regions. The liberal legislation on minority issues and the moderate reaction of the Ukrainian Government to ethnic questions, notably the secessionist movement in Crimea, indicate that the majority of politicians view Ukraine in terms of a melting pot for different peoples and cultures rather than as an ethnically defined state.
The political liberalization that accompanied Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms led to the emergence of a variety of nationalist groups. The activity of these groups reinforced the patchwork of ethnic and linguistic identities that have developed in the region over the past 200 years. Ethno-regionalism quickly became the primary fault line in Ukrainian society. However, the leading pro-independence organization was the moderate Rukh. The dominance of Rukh, coupled with the conversion of much of the Ukrainian communist leadership to the cause of Ukrainian nationhood, undermined the position of the ethno-nationalists and allowed for a civic definition of an independent Ukraine. The largely non-ethnic notion of Ukraine was codified in a series of legislative acts.
The Law on Languages (October 1989) provided for 'the free use of Russian as a language of interethnic discourse', although Russian was not granted the status of a state language. The law also stipulated a gradual transition to Ukrainian. The Declaration of Ukrainian State Sovereignty (July 1990) guaranteed 'all nationalities that reside on the territory of the republic the right to national-cultural development'. The Law on Citizenship (October 1991) utilized the 'zero' citizenship principle: granting citizenship to everyone permanently resident in Ukraine at the date the law came into force in Ukraine prior to independence irrespective of ethnicity. The Declaration of the Rights of Nationalities (November 1991) established a broad range of minority rights, while the Law on National Minorities (June 1992) provided state support for the development of minorities. A Ministry of Nationalities and Migration was set up in spring 1993.
On 28 June 1996 Ukraine's parliament adopted a new constitution. Ukrainian was designated the official language of the state, but the constitution also allowed for the free development of other ethnic languages used by Ukrainian citizens. Only a single citizenship is recognized, a blow for many among the Russian community who had sought a dual citizenship regime. Although the constitution stipulates that Ukraine is a unitary state, special provisions are made for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
In 20 January 1991, the Crimean Communist Party organized a referendum on the question of reviving the Crimea's status as an autonomous region within the UkSSR. Of those who voted, 93.26 per cent supported a change of status. In July 1991, Russian became the official language of the peninsula. In August the Republican Movement of Crimea (RDK), a Russian nationalist organization led by Yurii Meshkov, was formed. On 4 September 1991, the Crimean Supreme Soviet voted to declare sovereignty over Crimea. In December 1991, only 54 per cent of the population of Crimea voted for Ukrainian independence. The RDK reached the height of its influence in mid-1992. On 5 May 1992, the Crimean Soviet declared independence (although this was subsequently suspended). By early December 1993, the movement had split into various factions. Unity was temporarily restored to the nationalists in December 1993 with the establishment of the 'Russia' bloc to promote Meshkov's presidential campaign.
The election of Meshkov as President of Crimea in January 1994, gaining 70 per cent of the vote, led to a significant rise in tensions between Kyiv and Simferopol as Crimea seemed to be moving towards independence. On 27 March, a majority voted in support of the 'consultative' questions that Meshkov had placed on the ballot for national elections (the creation of dual citizenship provisions on the peninsula and for relations with Ukraine to be conducted on the basis of bilateral agreements). The Russia bloc also won a large majority (54 of 94 seats) in the Crimean Parliament.
While these results appeared to set the stage for a major confrontation between Kyiv and Simferopol, in fact they were the prelude to a dramatic disintegration of the Russian nationalist movement on the peninsula. Underlying this political collapse was an increasing dispute about economic reform and, in particular, a fight to control privatization. In autumn 1994, the growing dispute about the direction of economic reform came to a head in a bitter confrontation between the parliament and the president. The pro-Russia political elite in Crimea gradually disintegrated.
On 21 March 1995, President Kuchma issued a decree placing the Crimean government directly under Kyiv's control. Friction between Kyiv and the Crimean parliament continued to cause instability amongst the Crimean political elite. In early summer 1995 Yevhen Suprunik, a less confrontational figure, was elected leader of the Crimean parliament. Suprunik was himself replaced as Crimean parliamentary speaker in the autumn of 1996 by Vasyl Kyselyov. At the end of February 1996 a new Crimean prime minister, Arkadii Demydenko, was appointed in place of Anatolii Franchuk, who was dismissed in December 1995 because of his alleged support for Kyiv's politics towards the penisula.
Despite the collapse of the Russian nationalist movement, minority questions remained acute in Crimea. The presence of the Russian military in Sevastopol offers hope to Russian nationalists that the peninsula may eventually be unified with Russia. The dominance of the Russian language in the region has meant that local Ukrainians have found it extremely difficult to organize the teaching of Ukrainian in schools.
In 1989 the total population of the Crimean peninsula (area 27,000 sq km) stood at 2,430,495, of whom 1,629,542 (67 per cent) were Russians, 625,919 (25.8 per cent) Ukrainians, of whom 47 per cent were Russian-speakers, 38,365 (1.6 per cent) were Crimean Tatars, and 136,669 (5.6 per cent) other nationalities.
The 2001 census shows that the overall population of Crimea has declined slightly, by 1 per cent, from 2,063,600 in 1989 to 2,033,700. The proportion of ethnic Russians in the Crimean population has declined from 65.6 per cent in 1989 to 58.3 per cent in the 2001 census. Of the total, 1,180,400 are Russians, 492,200 are Ukrainians (a decline from 26.7 per cent in 1989 to 24.3 per cent in 2001), and 243,400 are Crimean Tatars – a dramatic increase from 1.9 per cent in 1989 to 12 per cent in 2001. It should be noted that the numbers of returning Crimean Tatars peaked, at 41,400 in 1991, and have been rapidly falling in each year since. It is believed that if these trends continue, then by the next census in 2011 Crimea will have lost its position as the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority.
The return of Crimean Tatars continued to cause friction. Although supported by the authorities in Kyiv, not least because they opposed the Russian nationalists on the peninsula, Tatars received insufficient financial assistance to support their repatriation programme. Unemployment among Tatars was extremely high. The intense competition for land means that Tatars have been forced to settle in the least fertile parts of Crimea. In summer 1995, frustration at the economic situation led to confrontation with an allegedly criminal group that developed into a major confrontation with the police. A number of Tatars were killed.
Tatars also achieved important political successes with Tatar representatives playing a prominent role in the regional parliament.
Minority issues have been at the heart of relations between Moscow and Kyiv since 1991. A variety of radical nationalist groups in Russian sought to provoke conflict over the question of Russian-speakers in Ukraine. With the destruction of the Russian Supreme Soviet, a centre for these groups, in October 1993, such activity diminished considerably. The Russian Government has, however, promoted its own minority-based agenda at interstate negotiations. Since early 1994, Russia has sought dual citizenship for Russians living in Ukraine, a move fiercely resisted by Kyiv.
The question of Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet, which is largely staffed by ethnic Russians, has also been important. Sevastopol is seen as a symbol of the Russian identity of Crimea. A decision to examine the status of the city was taken at the Seventh Congress of People's Deputies. In 1995, members of the Russian Duma again sought to raise the question of Sevastopol through the Russian Supreme Court. In June 1993, Russia and Ukraine agreed to divide the fleet, causing a rise of tension in the region. Subsequently, however, the agreement was not implemented and disagreement about ownership of the fleet and where it should be based, along with the question of dual citizenship, became the main stumbling blocks to the conclusion of a treaty of friendship between Kyiv and Moscow.
The Orange Revolution and after
Ukrainian politics changed radically as a result of the 21 November 2004 presidential election. Peaceful protests against widespread fraud and the alleged victory of Leonid Kuchma's chosen 'successor' Viktor Yanukovych resulted in the annulling of the election result by the Supreme Court. In a repeat election on 26 December, Viktor Yushchenko, a former minister with an overtly pro-Western orientation, was elected president with 52% of the vote. This relatively small margin of victory compared to most presidential elections in the post-Soviet region reflected the reality of what some analysts have called 'the two Ukraines' – a nationalist Ukraine, concentrated in the west of the country and Kyiv, oriented towards a Ukrainian identity, the Ukrainian language, Europe and the West, and Russian-oriented Ukraine, comprising both some russophone Ukrainians and the substantial Russian population living in the east and south, oriented towards Russia and the Russian language.
This reality shaped the subsequent course of the Orange Revolution in ways very different to the former Soviet Union's other 'colour revolutions'. Internal divisions within the leadership of the Orange Revolution, compounded by the failure of the administration to successfully gain the support of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) for its reformist agenda, led to President Yushchenko's dismissal in September 2004 of the Cabinet formed by his former ally Yuliya Tymoshenko. The Yushchenko-Tymoshenko split further compromised chances of sufficient unity in parliament to pass new legislation, contributing to political paralysis in the legislature. Following a national crisis over Ukraine's gas supply, in which Russia briefly severed gas supplies to the country, the Verkhovna Rada voted to dismiss the government in January 2006, further weakening Yushchenko in the run-up to the March 2006 parliamentary elections. Yushchenko's authority was further compromised by poor economic performance in the aftermath of the Orange revolution (GDP fell from 12.5 per cent in 2004 to just 2.5 per cent for 2005)
The March 2006 parliamentary elections inaugurated a new period of political crisis. The elections saw the political return of Yanukovych as leader of the Party of the regions, a party ostensibly representing the interests of Russian-speakers in Ukraine, including demands for Russian to be instated as an official language in the republic. While international observers and the European parliament praised the conduct of the elections, the results revealed the devastating diminution of President Yushchenko's standing in the republic. His party came third with 13.9 per cent of the vote, trailing Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc (22.3 per cent) and the victorious Party of the Regions (32.1 per cent). A prolonged period of crisis ensued as the three leading parties attempted to strike coalition deals satisfying their respective ambitions. After three months of negotiations Yushchenko and Tymoshenko agreed to form a coalition government with the additional participation of the Socialist party. This deal later broke down, giving Yanukovych the chance to emerge as prime-minister. But in an extraordinary twist, parliamentary elections in 2007, saw Tymoshenko and Yushchenko forge an alliance again, and after a prolonged period of horse-trading and wrangling, Tymoshenko emerged as prime-minister for the second time – albeit with a narrow majority, and at the price of a fragile multi-party co-alition.
While the 2004 presidential campaign in the Ukraine had a strong impact on the ethnic sphere of Ukrainian society, the present Ukrainian government has yet to approve any relevant comprehensive legislative documents to improve the current legislative framework on minorities. Unlike the 1990s, which witnessed a proliferation of legislation on minorities, 2004 and 2005 did not meet the expectations of many Ukrainian citizens, who hoped for drastic positive changes in the sphere of ethnic policy. Of 16 projects registered at the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, only three dealt with ethno-political issues. One of these projects, on the renewal of the rights of persons deported on ethnic grounds, had been considered by the Ukrainian parliament and approved at the second reading but was vetoed by the former president.
On acceding to the Council of Europe in 1995, Ukraine committed itself to a long list of commitments, including ratification of the main CoE treaties. The Framework Convention was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada on 9 December 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1998.
Ukraine signed the European Languages Charter on 2 May 1996, and on 24 December 1999 the Verkhovna Rada enacted a law to ratify it. However, on 12 July 2000 the constitution court declared unconstitutional the law on ratification of the Charter. On 15 May 2003, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) once again voted to ratify the Charter. Ukraine's Instrument of Ratification was only deposited in Strasbourg on 19 September 2005, and the Charter came into force on 1 January 2006. However, the Instrument has not yet been placed on the Council of Europe's web-site. The Charter has proved enormously controversial, with a number of regions declaring Russian to be the 'regional language', supposedly on the basis of the Charter.
Another law on the concept of minority rights policy is still under consideration, but the absence of a comprehensive minority rights law creates contradictions in Ukrainian legislation and difficulties in the exercise of human rights. While there is a political will to establish a comprehensive legislative framework on minorities, there is a lack of consensus among the main authorities over the key terms and concepts to be included. There is also a disagreement on what type of nation the Ukraine should be, poly-ethnic, multicultural or both. The new president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko has expressed a desire to overhaul the Ukrainian legislation on minorities in order to bring it up to European standards, including the existing law on national minorities adopted in 1992 which does not contain any provisions on the Crimean Tatars. This affected those Crimean Tatars who returned to their homeland after 1991 and found that they were denied citizenship rights, access to education, employment and housing.
In May 2006 Ukraine was elected to the new United Nations Human Rights Council, raising the profile of its international commitments in different fields, including minority rights.
Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples
The Ukrainian Constitution provides for the free development, use and protection of the Russian language and other minority languages, but the increased use of Ukrainian in schools and in the media is cause for concern as it renders the children of Russians disadvantaged when taking academic entrance examinations, since all applicants are required to take a Ukrainian language test.
The status of the Russian language in Ukraine emerged as one of the most potentially divisive issues following the Orange Revolution. During the period of political paralysis following the March 2006 parliamentary elections, numerous regions in the east and south of the country, including Kharkiv and the Crimean capital Sevastopol, attempted to unilaterally raise Russian's status to that of an official language at the regional level. Kyiv resisted these attempts, labelling them unconstitutional as the constitution recognizes only Ukrainian as a state language. Nonetheless, Russian continues to be used within local administrations in Russian-speaking regions.
According to 2003 official statistics on languages used in schools, Ukrainian was the language of instruction in 16,532 schools, Russian in 2,215, Romanian in 97, Hungarian in 68, Moldovan in 9, Crimean-Tatar in 10 and Polish in 3. Ethnic Romanians have called for university-level instruction in Romanian or the establishment of a Romanian technical college. The Rusyns (Ruthenians) remain unrecognized as an official ethnic group even though they are recognized in neighbouring countries. Representatives of the Rusyn community have called for Rusyn-language schools and a Rusyn-language department at Uzhhorod University. Roma continue to face considerable societal discrimination, and opinion polls have shown that, among all ethnic groups, the level of intolerance is highest toward Roma. In particular, violence and abuse by police is of major concern with regard to Roma.
The situation of the Crimean Tatars within Crimea has improved somewhat. In May 2005, the leader of the Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, and the Crimean Prime Minister Anatoliy Matviyenko signed a power-sharing agreement that ended four months of administrative deadlock over the peninsula. This agreement deals with the two main issues: the land that the Crimean Tatars consider to have been confiscated during the Stalin regime, and the protection of their cultural and linguistic identity. According to the power-sharing agreement, the Crimean Tatars will participate in government and be entitled to a television channel and media broadcasting in their own language. At the same time, Mustafa Dzhemilev urged President Yushchenko to help restore the original names of Crimean Tatar cities and villages, and to submit to the Ukrainian parliament the law on restoring the rights of those deported on ethnic grounds as well as a law on the status of the Crimean Tatar People. He also suggested that the Ukrainian parliament pass an amendment to the law on the elections to the parliament of the Crimean Autonomous Republic that would guarantee Crimean Tatar representation. President Yushchenko cautioned the Crimean Tatars that this would require making amendments to the 1991 Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Crimean Tatar People. Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar minorities still suffer discrimination by the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and have called for the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages to be given a status equal to Russian.
Tensions continued to simmer in Crimea in 2006, however, as clashes were reported in July between Tatars and local fishermen allegedly setting up market stalls on the site of an ancient Tatar memorial in the town of Bakhchisarai.