The Crimean Exception: Modern Politics as Hostage of the Imperial Past

In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
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  • 1 University of Victoria

The author proposes a new perspective on the political mobilization of ethnic Russians in the Crimea as reactive settler nationalism. After the Russian imperial conquest of the peninsula and the gradual displacement of the Crimean Tatars, the 1917 Revolution galvanized the Tatar national movement, which entered into an alliance with the Ukrainian one. A similar situation developed in the late 1980s, when the peninsula’s Russian ethnic majority found itself threatened by the loss of status and land in what could become a Tatar autonomy within Ukraine. Based on the implicit approval of Stalin’s genocidal deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944, the political mobilization of ethnic Russians in the 1990s made the Crimea an easy target for Russian annexation, which, however, took place twenty years later because of Russia’s internal reasons and the Euromaidan Revolution being perceived as a threat to the Putin regime.

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