President Leonid Kuchma has readily accepted a proposal to create a temporary commission to look into ethnic problems in Crimea. Refat Chubarov, deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (assembly), submitted the proposal during President Kuchma’s meeting on November 13 with national-cultural association leaders representing Ukraine’s ethnic minorities. Chubarov proposed that ethnic problems in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea be resolved at the national instead of the regional level, in order to avoid arbitrary interpretations of nationalities legislation by local authorities. He suggested at the same time that Kiev bore some responsibility for Crimean tensions in the past couple of weeks, when Tatar deputies staged a hunger strike to protest inadequate guarantees for their political representation and language and culture in the republic’s prospective new constitution. (7) The Mejlis has called on Tatars to engage in non-violent civil disobedience on the peninsula to keep up the pressure. Crimea and its mix of Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, and other peoples, have attracted steady attention from European human rights authorities. So far Kiev has not been subjected to international criticism of its policies. Internally, it is facing a legal battle initiated by the "Russian Society of Sevastopol" which is challenging the recent prohibition of its activities for alleged incitement of Russian-Ukrainian tension. (8)
Kebich Poised for Political Comeback.