Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 193

In a move certain to raise tensions in Crimea and set the autonomous republic on a collision course with the central Ukrainian authorities, the Crimean parliament voted yesterday to give Russian the status of "official language" on the territory of the autonomous republic. (Russian Television, October 15) The action was said to have been taken "in recognition of the historical, national, and cultural traditions of the population of Crimea." The Crimean Tatar parliamentary group, Kurultai, walked out in protest before the voting and denounced it afterward.

Crimea’s draft constitution recognizes Ukrainian, Russian, and Crimean Tatar as state languages in Crimea, and designates Russian as the language of official communication. Precisely because articles relating to language and other key issues are highly contentious, Crimea’s draft constitution has not been approved by the Ukrainian parliament and has not entered into force. In adopting yesterday’s decision, therefore, the Crimean parliament has tried to jump the gun and introduce one of the most contentious aspects of the draft constitution "by the back door." The measure is certain to provoke an angry response from Kiev and to create tensions within the peninsula, where the shortage of Ukrainian-language schools and newspapers and the lack of schools teaching in the Crimean Tatar language have all given rise to complaints of discrimination from the Ukrainian and Tatar minorities.

Bias Persists in Abkhazia Peacekeeping Operation.