The Ukrainian parliament has approved the draft Crimean constitution in the first reading. (Interfax, March 21) The move will help defuse tensions that arose last month when it became known that the draft Ukrainian constitution, which is also under consideration by parliament at this time, proposed to demote Crimea from an autonomous republic to an autonomous region and to replace its constitution with a charter. The Ukrainian parliament made some changes yesterday to the draft constitution submitted by the Crimean authorities last November, deleting the concept of "Crimean citizen" and substituting "citizen of Ukraine residing in Crimea." Parliament also deleted the term "people of Crimea" and substituted "population of Crimea." In return, Crimea will receive wide economic autonomy while, in an important concession to Crimean fears that Kiev might at some point unilaterally strip Crimea of its autonomous status, the constitution says that Crimea’s territorial integrity may be changed only by mutual consent. Russian is to have the status of the peninsula’s official language while Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar, and Russian will all be recognized as state languages. The Ukrainian parliament will consider the Crimean constitution in the second reading next week. (Interfax, March 21)
Contentious Issues Thrashed Out Before Russian-Ukrainian Summit.