Sunday 24 April 2022

Russian Crimea Depicted as a Crucible of Peoples with a Lot of Russians in it from the Beginning of History.

Issue 2 (2021) of the CRIMEAN DIGEST published by the "Business and Cultural Centre of the Republic of Crimea State Autonomous Enterprise" (pp 20-31) is a translation of an article by Andrey Mineev, of the Russian language "Crimean Ads online newspaper" about "The Peoples that Inhabited Crimea" (Андрей Минеев, Народы, населявшие Крым, 16.09.2019). This brushes away the awkward question of the invasion of part of a sovereign country by his own nation, and just uses the "Blood and Soil" argument of fascists everywhere to try and make this occupation appear to be an acceptable status quo. In fact the word "Ukrainian" appears just twice:

"Crimea is considered to be one of the most multi-ethnic regions of Russia. It is home to more than 100 nationalities. The largest community are Russians - 65%, followed by Ukrainians (15%), and Crimean Tatars (12%). The rest of the Crimean peoples are small groups and the number of each of them does not even reach 50,000 people."
and just below that a mention of the fact that most Russians live in the towns, while the Ukrainians are mostly in the northern peripheries.This is perhaps a reflection of what seems to be emerging as official Russian policy, to expunge the ethnonym "Ukraine" from the public sphere. I do not know how creible this is, but it is reported that school textbooks are being edited to edit out positive references to Ukraine [Andrew Roth Lessons in patriotism used to justify Ukraine invasion to Russia’s children', Guardian Sat 23 Apr 2022] , which together with the way we hear the news about the War is censored would certainly fit the orwellian/'1984' stereotype of the Russian state.

Crimea had been annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783 a decade after the Ottomans had been defeated, after a brief period of disruption in the Russian civil war it was part of the Soviet Union until 1954 when the Soviet government transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR). (there is a very interesting discussion of the reasons behind this by Mark Kramer, 'The Transfer of Crimea from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine, 1954' Wilson Center, undated). As he says, ostensibly this was
a “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people”
Note how the archaeology is used by Mineev in constructing this narrative.

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