Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 238

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted in the first reading on December 19 a bill on "On the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea." Crimea is Ukraine’s only autonomous republic. The bill would reduce the Crimean parliament from a permanently-sitting body to one meeting for only for a few months each year. In addition, the Supreme Soviet would lose its present right to adopt laws, and would be downgraded to a body able to adopt only decisions and resolutions, which would not become mandatory until they had been approved in Kyiv. The Supreme Soviet would also lose all of its already considerably reduced powers to oversee the peninsula’s police force. (UNIAN, December 19) Moreover, if initial news reports are correct, the 100 members of the Supreme Soviet would be elected "on the basis of universal, equal, and direct voting," with 50 percent of the members being chosen by a simple majority vote, and 50 percent chosen on a proportional basis. This suggests that the Crimean Tatars and other deported nations would lose their present right to elect their own representatives. These reports may not be accurate, however, since Kyiv is unlikely to want to alienate the Crimean Tatar community.

Crimea retains the right to its own constitution. However, the bill represents a clear effort by Kyiv to reduce substantially the powers of the peninsula’s parliament, presently dominated by representatives of Crimea’s predominantly ethnic Russian population. Crimea’s draft constitution has been a bone of contention between Kyiv and Simferopol for the past five years. The present draft constitution has been approved by the Crimean parliament but not by the Verkhovna Rada and has not, accordingly, entered into force.

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