On the issue of indigenous peoples in Crimea


On the anniversary of the March referendum on the proclamation of Crimea as a Republic returning under the patronage of the Russian Federation (“in its native harbour”), once again, the thesis that there are no indigenous peoples in Crimea was thrown into the information field of the peninsula.

This was done by candidate of historical sciences, associate professor Viktor Kharabuga of the V.I. Vernadsky Crimean Federal University. The statement was made from the high rostrum of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea at a meeting of the public chamber, in whichKharabuga is a member of the commission on science and education, and was greeted with enviable approval. No one thought to argue. Why object if it is necessary to substantiate the right to self-determination of the territory where the state-forming subject is its population, not the indigenous people, it is formed as a national identity in the Crimea, and which has no other historical homeland except Crimea.

I doubt that Kharabuga expressed his strong convictions. There was a political order, and he “courageously” carried it out. Worked, so to speak, on the lead, because the question was posed only indirectly. It was about the status of the Crimean Tatar language in Crimea. It is recorded in the Constitution of the Republic as a state one. This jarred our hapless scientist. On which state basis exactly? Are the Crimean Tatars – state-forming people, as it follows from the recognition of its indigenous in the Crimea? There are no indigenous peoples in Crimea – and that’s it! The question is closed ..!

The statehood of a language is intended to guarantee its preservation and development. Moreover, this is possible only if its full functioning is ensured. Not forcing, but creating conditions for this, cultivating the tongue, taking care not to wither or dry. Teaching, communicating, educating public knowledge of the language as holiness, divine office, human values. Is it too much honour for the Crimean Tatar language?

Kharabuga is an opponent of forced language learning. However, is it necessary to substantiate this, picking on the origin of constitutional law, referring to a question that lies on a completely different scientific plane – not so much in the historical as in the ethnological, or rather the ethnohistorical. Our opponent is not an ethnologist; he is a “pure” historian, and to be a more specific: chronological historian, tracking events only in time, apart from space, not dialectically, not in interaction and interrelation, which the ethnohistorical approach to research requires.

Not having proper tools, Kharabuga ran into the shallow waters of the language problem in Crimea, took him for absolute and asked whether the Crimean Tatar language is the language of the state- forming indigenous people on the peninsula, said: “there are no indigenous peoples or ethnic groups in Crimea”. The statehood of the Crimean Tatar language is questioned by them. This, in his opinion, should not obligate to anything. No, this was forced! That’s right!

If Kharabuga were more or less versed in the history of ethnogenesis in geographically defined territories, he wouldn’t dare to say so. I will repeat and stay it again: the question of indigenous peoples in Crimea cannot be approached only historically, presenting the history of the person as a chronology of events, a change of stage decorations. History is the outer side, the shell hiding the internal, essential processes that have taken place.

The tree of life is rooted deep, deep into the depths of the centuries, and there is no need to try to dismember them, distort them. The researchers counted genes in the blood of Crimeans Crimean Tatars they counted up to thirty, but the code is one – with components from the most ancient peoples; Tauri, Tauri -Scythians, Huns, Mediterranean peoples, Kipchak peoples and beyond. Ethno-cauldron did mix and continued to mix, but the common genetic code in the Crimeans remained. It does exist, expressed in the form of a distinctive ethnic identity, accumulated in language, culture, mentality, celebrated by both ethnographers, and anthropologists, and cultural studies. The Crimean Tatars are a nation formed and born on the territory which today is called Crimea. 
And here is the time for our opponent to jump up and shout that he does not deny the process of ethnogenesis in the Crimea as such, but does not recognise the active participation of the Crimean Tatars in it and rejects their claim to be called an indigenous people. According to him, the Tatars in the Crimea are alien people and remain as such as a diaspora of Asian origin.

Under the conditions when the collapse of the totalitarian Soviet empire took place, the overwhelming part of the exiled people managed to return to their historical homeland to their roots to be reborn and continue national development. However, this way turns out to be ordered for him – they all make it clear to him that in a Crimean house, turned into a kind of hostel – territorial autonomy, one can live and live only as a diaspora of “Tatars who had previously lived in Crimea”.

National-territorial autonomy – and nothing more! They use it to frighten by saying that the Crimean Tatars demand special privileges for themselves. No. All that is required is a guarantee of free national development, a guarantee against assimilation, extinction, for this nation has no other motherland except Crimea. 
The Crimean national-territorial autonomy, formed by the right to self-determination of the Crimean Tatars, in no way infringes on the interests of other peoples inhabiting the peninsula, it will only create conditions for the preservation of species identity, a purely Crimean culture, which is common human heritage, but endangered disappearances. In contrast to the fragmentary cultures of other ethnonational communities of Crimea, which have states outside the peninsula.

The thesis – “there are no indigenous peoples or indigenous ethnic groups in Crimea” is not something new. It comes to life whenever a carrier of the dominant culture claims to have a monopoly status by the power of the “elder brother” in a multinational community. Multinational is formally given a meaningful, essential substance for internationalism, which serves as the ideological foundation for the proclamation of territorial autonomy. They are trying to prove that Crimea is ideal for this. The experiment to create a small “Soviet Union” in the Crimea, where they set out to create a new historical community “Crimean people” modelled on the “Soviet” alternative would not work again.

V. Kharabuga should deeply reflect on the ethnonational situation in the Crimea and on the reasons for the absence in it of an effectively working consensus that exists but is not given the subjectivist approaches to interpreting the ethnohistory of the peninsula.


Author: Редакция Avdet