Interview with Leader of Majlis Refat Chubarov
The Ukrainian Border Service highly recommends not to visit Crimea during the holiday season. There is information, that people without Crimean registration are not let to enter the peninsula. Is it true?
Russians has established real border checkpoints from the Crimean side; they follow their own legislation. Russians’ attitude to Ukrainians only worsens last days. Russia states that occupied Crimea is a part of its territory… I know that every day there are problems with correspondence of Ukraine’s and Russia’s laws on the territory of Crimea. And these problems exist now.
There are some rumors about a conflict between so called Crimean leaders and the Kremlin.
All the trade between Ukraine and occupied Crimea was according to the Ukraine’s law “On free economic zone of Crimea”. All the taxes were cancelled, and Ukraine’s budget did not benefit from this kind of relations. When we started the blockade of Crimea, we had another aims. At least, our two key points were accomplished: the Crimean issue is back to the international agenda and to Ukraine’s domestic affairs as well. Thus, it became more expensive for Russia to keep Crimea.
Since October 6, the Border Service refuses to let the average people go to Crimea and go out of Crimea. How could it be regulated?
Only the trucks, which do not belong to Ukrainians as a private property, are not let in. Objectively, they should pass if they have Ukrainian license plate. This decision was taken in because of numerous illegal cargo. And the lorries were not allowed to pass just to simplify the situation. We will work on solving this problem.
There is special regulation, which allows humanitarian aid to enter Crimea despite the blockade. What is this humanitarian aid?
Our country has a special legislation, which regulates the humanitarian loads, which come to the territory of Ukraine. The Ministry of Social Protection also is responsible for these issues. If some humanitarian aid comes to Crimea, no one direct bans will not work. The legislation, which deals with this special kind of cargo will be exercised.
Russian Federation gives more money to but Ukrainian electricity for Crimea. And what do we tell in response?
Russians are trying to use all the means of information warfare. Much of what they say about the alleged transfer of power from the Krasnodar region to the Crimean peninsula, is not true. They have a greater need for electricity from mainland Ukraine, so they have increased spending for almost a billion rubles to purchase electricity from foreign countries. But there's only one country - Ukraine. This suggests that we are entering a large conflict between those who intend to supply energy to the country, and between those who intend to buy it. The government should be on the lookout. If any document does not define the status of the Crimean peninsula as the one that is specified in the legislation of Ukraine, it would be a gross violation of the Ukrainian legislation. Our Constitution says “Autonomous Republic of Crimea”. In our legislation there is no fixed term "Crimean peninsula", it is just a geographical name.
The coordinator of blockade Lenur Islyamov proposed to storm the ships, which, according to him, deliver smuggling from Odesa. He is persuaded that Security Service and the Border Service are aware of what is going on and turn a blind eye to the smuggling. What do you know about the situation?
Some media do not cite his words accurately. There different initiatives concerning naval blockade, and there are some ideas that deserve the attention of experts and which are now being discussed with the experts. Indeed, today, no one can say with hundred percent evidence who controls all the Ukrainian ports from which ships leave and reach the so-called international waters. Contraband is when a cargo departures formally correctly, then it comes to international waters, and then the Russian barges come, take the cargo and go to Crimea. These cases are not massive, but they rather have isolated character.
What do you say about the Crimean battalion, initiative of Mr. Islyamov?
We have already discussed the feasibility of such a battalion, which would include Crimean people, not only the Crimean Tatars - those who live on the mainland, those who will be called up for military service, those who will enter into a contract. There are a few things that need to be taken into account: Kosher, use of alcoholic beverages, simultaneous presence of chaplains, military, and imams. There are some requirements for people who want to protect Ukraine and continue to defend Ukraine. We discussed this issue with the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces - I personally such a unit to be a part of the National Guard of Ukraine.
President Putin has ordered to establish operational headquarters of counter-terrorism at sea in occupied Simferopol. What does this mean in practice?
It is not only in Simferopol, there are some regions where the operational headquarters are now being created in different directions. It looks like Putin is preparing for a large-scale war. Crimea is full of militants, most modern weapons, and it is doe under guise of need to combat terrorism. We have to be very careful with that.
Do Crimean Tatars today reissue their property to Russian documents?
Let us remember the Second World War times, Ukraine, which was occupied by the Germans. Whatever it was in political life - people have to survive and to protect their everything that the people are now forced to do in the occupied Crimea, if their actions do not have implications for Ukrainian interests, if they do not violate the rights of another person, just let the people do it.
Can we count on more support from Turkey in our war with Russia?
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Dzemilev and me met with the top leadership of Turkey. Turkey's position, nevertheless, comes from the fact that whatever happened between the countries, there should be an ongoing dialogue. That is, they will not avoid dialogue with Russia… In early February, will come here to visit the Prime Minister of Turkey, and later our president to pay a visit to Turkey. The tight contacts between Ukraine and Turkey take place now.
Why in 2015 the government and the president have said so few words about Ukraine’s plans for the return of Crimea? Why hadn’t it not sound in the international negotiations?
You know, talking about Crimea without having a clear plan - this is not enough for today. We have got a very hard pressure of what is called the "Minsk agreements." All the attention and all the efforts were aimed at ensuring that these agreements are formally followed. Sometimes you may not agree with Western partners, but then you have to choose between being alone or, after all, with the partners.
Do you believe that Crimea will be returned soon?
Is it true that the Russian administration pulls the Crimean Tatars to their side?
Russian administration is trying to scare of the Crimean Tatars. It is trying to disunite them.
Are your relatives in Crimea oppressed?
More in moral way; by special people, I would say.
Is Crimea the political death of Putin?
Really, it is. The death of the approach, which was chosen by the political leadership of Russia and Putin, began immediately after the annexation of the Crimea.
Who of Ukrainian officials has property in Crimea?
I have not studied specifically this point, but a lot of there do have property in Crimea.
Is the policy of Ukrainian government correct with regard to Crimea?
It's not just the government. All Ukrainian politicians, could not find an adequate response to the challenges that Russia has created since February 2014.