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Crimea Fact Sheet

As the situation in the Crimea become more critical, NEE provides a fact sheet so you understand the basics of the region.

February 28, 2014 - New Eastern Europe - Articles and Commentary

Crimea Emblem

Photo: Crimea (cc) commons.wikimedia.org

Population: Approximately 2.35 million

Location: Peninsula in southern Ukraine

Ethnic groups: 58.5 per cent Russian; 24.4 per cent Ukrainians; Crimean Tatars 12.1 per cent; Belarusians 1.4 per cent; Poles, Jews, Moldovans less than 1 per cent

Economy: 60 per cent food production; other major industries include tourism and metallurgy

Who governs Crimea?

Crimea is an autonomous republic but belongs within the sovereign borders of Ukraine. These borders were agree upon and guaranteed by a 1994 “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” signed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Crimea has its own governing body – a parliament with 100 seats – as well as its own constitution. But it must act within accordance to the laws of Ukraine’s constitution. 

Why is Crimea in Ukraine, not Russia?

In 1954, Crimea was given to Ukraine as a “gift” from Moscow to commemorate the 300th anniversary of a settlement between the Russians and Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s Cossacks.

Why are there calls for Crimea to gain independence?

As mentioned above, Crimea’s population is majority ethnic-Russian. Thus the general sentiments there are pro-Russian.

What’s with the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea?

In 1997, the Russian Federation negotiated with Ukraine’s government for part of its Black Sea Fleet to be stationed at Sevastopol in Crimea until 2017. In exchange for lower gas prices, Ukraine’s former President Viktory Yanukovych extended that until 2042.

Why have pro-Russian passions become so inflamed recently?

Last week, Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed a bill that all legal documents in the country are to be in Ukrainian. This has irritated Crimea’s Russian-speaking majority.

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