Factional strife continues to dominate the political scene in Crimea. Yesterday, the parliament of the autonomous republic ousted its speaker, Yevhen Suprnyuk, who is currently hospitalized following a mysterious kidnapping. Pro-Russian parliamentarians considered Suprnyuk too accommodating to Ukraine’s central government. Until Suprunyuk’s replacement is chosen, the post of speaker has been assumed by Refat Chubarov, leader of the Crimean Tatar parliamentary faction, which uncharacteristically joined pro-Russian factions in voting for Suprunyuk’s ouster. (RTR, October 9)
Suprunyuk’s removal comes at a moment when Ukraine’s Justice Ministry has revoked the registration of 15 Crimean political parties. Ukrainian law requires parties seeking legal registration to have a nationwide presence, a condition that most Crimean parties do not meet. In any case, the Russian Party of the Crimea, one of those whose status was revoked, has protested that "a Crimean party with all-Ukrainian status is a legal nonsense." (Interfax, October 9) Of Crimea’s 17 parties, only two — the Union for Support of the Crimean Republic and the Party of Economic Rebirth — met the requirements; the others have been ordered to close. The Russian Party of Crimea has tried to find a way around this by dissolving itself and declaring a new organization, the Congress of Russian People, as its successor. The new organization held its founding conference last weekend and elected Sergei Shuvainikov chairman of its ruling body — the Duma. It aims to copy the model pioneered by the Crimean Tatars: the congress will function as an ethnic Russian parliament, along the lines of the Tatar Mejlis, while the Duma will mimic the Tatars’ Kurultai in functioning as a shadow government. Shuvainikov said a delegation will visit Moscow to establish formal relations with the Russian government and ask for "humanitarian aid to compatriots living in Crimea." (Itar-Tass, October 7) How successful the new organization will be in uniting Crimea’s quarrelsome factions remains to be seen.
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