June 25, 2005 - 05:00 AMT
Despite the pressure from official Kiev Crimean lawmakers stayed close to their principles.
On June 22 the Supreme Council of Crimea again discussed the question of Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. It should be reminded that on May 19 the Crimean parliament passed a resolution proclaiming April 24 as the day to commemorate the victims of Armenian Genocide. Under the pressure from the outside the leadership of the legislative organ came up with an initiative to cancel the resolution. By the majority of votes the deputies rejected the proposal.
The bill on announcing April 24 the Memory Day of the victims of Armenian genocide was introduced by the deputy from the Congress of Russian communities of Crimea Sergey Shuvaynikov. 59 out of 62 deputies of the Crimean parliament voted for the bill. However, immediately after the voting the chairman of the Supreme Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Boris Deich announced that he would not sign the resolution since it could have undesirable political consequences and official Kiev started to openly put pressure upon the deputies. The foreign ministry of Ukraine gave to understand that they would make efforts to achieve cancellation of the decision of Crimean lawmakers at any price. Unable to bear the pressure, during the seating of the presidium of the Supreme Council deputy Shuvaynikov reluctantly suggested to make corrections in the document and to qualify the events of 1915 as "tragedy". By the majority of votes the presidium rejected the proposal and decided to leave the document as it is, without putting the issue of changing the formulation of the resolution on the agenda of the parliament. Nevertheless speaker Boris Deich did not give up the idea to achieve the inclusion of the issue on the agenda. He decided to pursue the initiative directly at the plenary session.

In the case in question the head of the legislative organ of the autonomy realized the will of official Kiev that actively flirts with Baku opposing itself to Yerevan. Ukraine and Azerbaijan are partner countries in GUAM but allied obligations do not demand open neglection towards Armenia with which Ukraine has ancient historical connections. It is quite obvious that it was Ilham Aliev that persuaded Ukrainian leaders to put pressure on Crimea. During the meeting with the speaker of Supreme Rada of Ukraine Vladimir Litvin the President of Azerbaijan demanded to do everything possible to make Crimean lawmakers reconsider their decision concerning the recognition of Armenian genocide. Ankara on its turn also made use of diplomatic instruments, including even the resources of Crimean-Tatar community. Mejlis - the illegal "parliament" of Crimean Tatars spoke out against the resolution. The leaders of the Azerbaijan community of Kiev even started discussing the necessity of Ukrainian parliament to pass a bill, announcing the resolution invalid.

Arguing the necessity of canceling the resolution, the speaker of the parliament Boris Deich mentioned that passing of the resolution had aroused dangerous international resonance. However the arguments of his opponents turned to be more persuasive. The pro-Armenian atmosphere in the Crimean parliament was formed yet when the vice-speaker of Supreme Council of the autonomy was Anushavan Danielyan - current Primer Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh. In his speech during the debates deputy Vladimir Kazarin said, "I don't understand what has the president of Azerbaijan to do with our decision". Kazarin reminded that Armenians have lived on the territory of Crimea for more than 1500 years. "They have had a tremendous input in the development of the peninsula. The history of Crimea is inseparably linked to the names of hundreds of outstanding Armenians who have become dear for Crimea", the deputy said. The head of the Crimean organization of the Republican party of Ukraine Alexander Gross also supported Kazarin and said, "No parliament in the world has ever cancelled passed resolutions for the commemoration of the victims of Armenian genocide. This can be a sad precedent. We have to account for our own decisions…"

As a result, the initiative of the speaker was put to the vote and received only 13 votes. The issue is closed. From now on, every year on April 24 Crimea will officially commemorate the victims of Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.