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Crimea


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A peninsula in the Black Sea off the Ukrainian coast. An autonomous republic of the Soviet Union, it was occupied by the Germans in 1941–4. Thereafter, most of its original population, the Tartars, were deported for their collaboration to central Asia; they were officially rehabilitated only in 1967, and not allowed to return until 1989. It became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954. Throughout the Soviet period the Crimea enjoyed formidable Russian investment as the prime holiday resort of the Russian and Soviet apparatchiks. By 1989 its population was over 60 per cent Russian, and resisted independence from Russia as part of the Ukraine. It was granted extensive autonomy in 1991, with a separate parliament and President. Subsequently, its domestic affairs were characterized by extensive corruption, with the area's Ukrainian and Tartar minorities bitterly complaining against discrimination throughout the 1990s. This was but one complicating factor in the ongoing conflict with the Ukraine about the Russian majority's attempts to gain even greater sovereignty, leading the Ukraine periodically to suspend the rights of the Crimean parliament.


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