Anton Korynevych: “The topic of indigenous people and national communities resonates, and is very important in the context of different nationalities in our country, which all together, regardless of origin, form a single Ukrainian political nation. In law, there is a separate category called “indigenous people” and, accordingly, the equivalents of the Ukrainian phrase “indigenous people” exist in English, French and, of course, in other languages used in the international arena. “Indigenous people” is a distinct legal category that says that there is a certain people who historically for centuries, perhaps millennia, have lived in a certain territory, have a special connection with this territory, are a minority in the state and have no other state entity outside their nation state. Thus, this is a significant difference between the indigenous people and the national minority. National minorities, such as Hungarians or Russians, have their own nation states outside Ukraine. Accordingly, any argument of the Russian Federation that the Russians are the indigenous people of Ukraine – it is impossible to comment from the point of view of legal or from the point of view of activity of state bodies, because it is simply a trivial thesis”.
“On May 18, exactly on the day when we commemorated the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted to the Verkhovna Rada as an urgent draft law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine” and on July 1, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted this law by a constitutional majority. It is important because it fixes that three indigenous peoples living in Ukraine: Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks have no other historical homeland than Crimean Peninsula. And, of course, the regulation and consolidation of their rights are especially important in the context of the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, when mass war crimes, crimes against humanity, illegal detentions, illegal searches and illegal arrests are committed against representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. Terrible term arrests are issued by the so-called “courts”, courts of the Russian Federation, in fact for nothing, for the fact that a person simply reads a specific book or has a certain religious belief. This law is a framework, but it says that these indigenous peoples have rights that the state recognizes. These are cultural, linguistic, information rights, in particular the opportunity to have your own media, and, very importantly, it is an opportunity to have their own representative bodies that have a special status that allows them to have a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities for the rights of indigenous peoples.
Of course, this is an important step forward, which means not only that Ukraine recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples and recognizes indigenous peoples as such, but also recognizes representative bodies and enables them to represent the interests of indigenous peoples in relations with the authorities of Ukraine. With this law, we have made great progress in what we call the internal track, the internal direction of work on the deoccupation and reintegration of Crimea. We have often talked about resolutions of international organizations, statements of foreign states, their parliaments, governments, and at the same time we had many of our domestic strong positional decisions, concerning the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and, accordingly, the indigenous peoples who live there. I think that recently, especially in the last year, we have two very important developments that have already become part of the legislation.
This is the adoption of the Strategy for Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and, accordingly, the Law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine”, which will enter into force when it is signed by the Head of State and published. This is a historic decision that both the state and the indigenous peoples have been waiting for 30 years. Ukraine thus shows its maturity, stability, ability, shows that it can properly regulat such important moments”, – Anton Korynevych, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
“Law on National Communities” Session participants:
- Moderator: Sevgil Musayeva, Ukrainska Pravda, Editor-in-chief
- Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
- Dmytro Lubinets, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation and Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk, Luhansk Regions and Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations
- Anastasiya Hudyma, Director of the National Minority Broadcasting Coordination Center of the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine.