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09KYIV236, TENSIONS IN CRIMEA OVER DISPUTED LAND

February 3, 2009

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KYIV236 2009-02-03 16:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKV #0236 0341621
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031621Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7205
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L KYIV 000236 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2019 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SOCI UP
SUBJECT: TENSIONS IN CRIMEA OVER DISPUTED LAND 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Colin Cleary for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) Tensions between Crimean Tatars and Crimean 
authorities over disputed land in Simferopol, which had the 
potential to erupt into violence, appear to be easing. 
Defense Minister Yekhanurov has gotten personally involved in 
seeking a peaceful solution.  The Ministry of Defense is 
reported to have transferred land occupied by Crimean Tatar 
squatters to the City of Simferopol, which in turn could turn 
it over to the Crimean Tatar community for use in a 
settlement.  End Summary. 
 
Crimean Authorities Plan Eviction 
--------------------------------- 
 
2.  (U) The Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Council) appealed to senior 
GOU leaders and the international community on January 27 to 
prevent the forceful eviction of Crimean Tatar squatters from 
a settlement in the city of Simferopol (capital of Crimea). 
The Mejlis claimed that police and military units planned to 
demolish homes and a mosque and turn the land over to 
commercial developers.  The settlement, which had been 
established in 2006 on land belonging to the MOD, had been in 
the process of being transferred to the city for several 
years.  According to Crimean Tatar leaders, Simferopol 
authorities secretly and prematurely allocated the land to 
commercial developers.  The planned eviction was to fulfill a 
court order turning over the land to commercial interests. 
 
Tensions Rise 
------------- 
 
3.  (SBU) Tensions rose January 27-29 as approximately 
1000-3000 Crimean Tatars gathered at the settlement to defy 
the eviction order.  Embassy contacts in Crimea expressed 
concern about possible violent clashes and felt that 
extremists on both sides might use the dispute to inflame the 
situation.  Deputy Mejlis Leader Refat Chubarov publicly 
called for peaceful settlement of the dispute and asked that 
the Crimean Tatar community receive the eight hectares in 
currently occupies.  Chubarov explained that the remaining 37 
hectares of the MOD land would be plenty for commercial 
development.  Although he appealed for calm, Chubarov warned 
that tens of thousands of Tatars would come to protect the 
mosque on the site if there were prospect of the mosque's 
demolition. 
 
DefMin Involved 
--------------- 
 
4.  (C)  The Ambassador raised the issue with Minister of 
Defense Yekhanurov during a January 28 meeting.  Yekhanurov 
was well aware of the situation, adding that he had a map of 
the disputed location on his desk.  He said he had already 
conducted talks with various of the parties involved, 
including the city administration and the Tatars.  He 
rejected the allegation that military personnel might be used 
to evict the squatters, saying he doubted "any troops would 
be involved at all."  He promised to "work on it" and find a 
solution. 
 
Possible Compromise 
------------------- 
 
5.  (U) On February 2, Simferopol Mayor Babenko spoke out 
against any attempts at violent resolution.  On the same day, 
a Crimean NGO announced that Yekhanurov had met with the 
Prime Minister of Crimea, Viktor Plakida, in Kyiv and 
transferred 7.5 hectares of the disputed land to the city of 
Simferopol.  This transfer would then make the compromise 
called for by the Mejlis possible. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6.  (SBU) Land disputes involving the Crimean Tatars remain 
one of the most acute sources of interethnic tension in 
Ukraine.  The Crimean Tatar community has long criticized the 
government for not doing enough to help it resettle after its 
return to Ukraine in the early 1990s.  While the current 
dispute is not yet over, Minister Yekhanurov's personal 
involvement appears to have eased tensions and paved the way 
for a possible peaceful settlement. 
TAYLOR

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