The Ukrainian Parliament, Verkhovna Rada, adopted a law Thursday on Indigenous peoples at an extraordinary meeting.
The bill, initiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recognizes Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks as "Indigenous peoples of Ukraine.”
The bill was accepted in the general assembly with the support of 325 out of 345 deputies who participated in the voting. Russians living in the country, on the other hand, will not be considered Indigenous people because they have a state outside the borders of Ukraine. The law guarantees the rights of Indigenous peoples against assimilation, deprivation of cultural values, eviction or forced relocation. It also guarantees their cultural, educational, linguistic and information rights.
As reported on Rada's website, bill No. 5506 defines the legal status of the Indigenous peoples of Ukraine and "establishes legal guarantees for full possession of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons belonging to the Indigenous peoples of Ukraine, established by the norms of international law, as well as provided for in the Constitution and laws of Ukraine."
“The Indigenous peoples of Ukraine have the right to self-determination in Ukraine, establish their political status within the framework of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,” it says.
Indigenous peoples of Ukraine will be able to establish their own educational institutions or cooperate with other educational institutions to teach their language, history and culture. They will also have the right to establish their own media outlets through their representative bodies.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ukrainian parliamentarian Rustem Umerov underlined that the law approved by parliament is an important and historical document for the country. Umerov said the Crimean Tatars have been waiting for this law for nearly 30 years.
"Ukraine’s constitution states that the rights of Indigenous peoples and national minorities are determined solely by Ukrainian law, but there was no specific law defining the rights of Indigenous peoples.”
Noting that the definition of "Indigenous people of Ukraine" was established by the law, Umerov said that "accordingly, it is determined that the Indigenous peoples of Ukraine are Crimean Tatars, Karaims and Krymchaks."
"The law guarantees the right of Indigenous peoples of Ukraine to sustainable development as well as to culture, education, language and knowledge,” he added. Umerov noted that the law also determines the legal status of representative bodies of the Indigenous peoples of Ukraine.
"Issues related to the international representation of the indigenous peoples of Ukraine were also identified. The adoption of this law is part of Ukraine's strategy for the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea."
Umerov underlined that Zelenskyy's personal submission of the draft law on Indigenous peoples to parliament is a sign that the protection of the rights of the Crimean Tatars is among the top priorities of Ukrainian state policy.
Experts see the move as a success of Ukraine in the formation of civilized interethnic relations in the country, another step toward the elimination of the heavy Soviet legacy in relation to non-titular nations, which since the time of the Russian Empire and in the USSR were subjected to discrimination, illegal repression, universal deportations, forced Russification and assimilation. Zelenskyy said that he would like to sign a number of laws "important" for the Crimean Tatars and all Crimeans before the summer summit of the "Crimean Platform."