Territorial disputes: Crimea (Part 3) [Post 68]

What do Crimeans want?

Crimea is a clear example of territorial disputes and, as such, it has many issues at stake. Potentially, many remedies could address the difference. The previous post presented an article that summarizes the current situation and its domestic, regional and international implications.

The post today focuses on one of the often ignored agents in any territorial dispute: people. 

What do Crimeans want?

Most of the current academic and non-academic center the attention on the 2014 referendum and its legitimacy and legality. However, there is earlier evidence about what people may have wanted. It is for that reason there are references to the 1991 referendum and the 1994 poll leading up to the events in 2014.Nine out of fifteen Republics of former the USSR participated in the Soviet Union Referendum on 17th March 1991. Voting results in the territory of Crimea were included in the general Ukrainian results. In Crimea (without Sevastopol city) 1 085 570 people (87,6 %) out of 1 239 092 people (turnout – 79,3 %) participated in the referendum and voted for the preservation of the Soviet Union. 

Crimean president Yuriy Meshkov in 1994 openly called for independence. Seventy percent of the peninsula’s population voted in favor of greater autonomy in a March 1994 referendum (technically, it was a poll).

In 2014 a referendum with 83.10% voter turnout confirmed by 96.77% Crimeans were in favor of reunifying Crimea with Russia. The referendum voters to choose whether to reunify “Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation” or to restore “the 1992 Crimea constitution and the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine.”Since then, the 2014 referendum has been questioned.

The UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 under the heading “Territorial integrity of Ukraine” states that the UN:

Calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic ofCrimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the above-mentioned referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”“Underscores that the referendum held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on 16 March 2014, having no validity, cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol.”

Voter turnout in the Russian presidential election in the Crimea on March 18, 2018 was 42% of voters.


Referendum 1991

Averting Crisis in Ukraine Referendum 2014 in Crimea

UN Security Council Report (meeting 7138) March 2014

The UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 March 2014
Historical Timeline of Crimea, 1783-2014

Russian Presidential Election 2018 and Crimea

NOTE: This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020 (forthcoming)Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, “Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue,” London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.

NEXT POST: Crimea and the many different views.

Wednesday 19th February 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

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