Migration Problems Research Center

Integration Processes

Evaluation of the International Renaissance Foundation Program

In the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea-Ukraine

«The Integration of the Crimean Deportees-Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans, Greeks into Ukrainian Society Program» (referred to as the Crimean Integration Program (CIP))

Submitted by Stewart Chisholm

May 4, 2001


The Network Media Program was invited to evaluate the media component of the CIP from February 28-March 1, 2001. Following meetings with the director of the IRF Ukraine and the CIP representative from the Crimea in Kiev, the NMP representative traveled to Simferopol to meet with members of the CIP board, former and potential grantees, members of the media, and other organizations that provide support to media projects in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (ARC). The main objective of the evaluation was to assess the media component of the CIP and its contribution towards the integration efforts. While two other evaluators will also be providing their assessment of the NGO and education components of the program, they will also be examining the possibilities of the spin-off of the CIP into an independent organization. Given the limited timeframe of the NMP visit to the region, this report will focus primarily on the development of the media component within the context of the existing support structure of the Open Society Institute.


In 1944, approximately 220,000 Crimean Tatars along with a number of other ethnic minorities, including Bulgarians, Armenians, and Greeks were deported from the Crimea to Central Asia and Siberia. This deportation itself followed the forced exodus of approximately 61,000 Germans from the region in 1941. Only in the early 1990s were representatives of these groups allowed to return to the Crimea. According to a 1993 survey, the current population of the ARC is comprised of Russians (64%), Ukrainians (23%), Crimean Tatars (12%) and members of 37 other ethnic groups. Although Ukrainian is considered to be the official language, Russian remains the language spoken by the majority of the population.

While the return of the Crimean Tatars and other formerly deported peoples (FDPs) has been supported by the Ukrainian government, problems of reintegration related to language, cultural identity, under-representation in government, as well as unequal access to housing, employment and education remain . In order to address the pressing needs of reintegration, IRF established its representative office in the Crimea in 1997 and initiated the “Program of Integration of the Crimean Deportees – Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans, Greeks – into Ukrainian society. The program included four primary areas of support:

  • Promotion of rebirth of primary and secondary education for deportees;
  • Support to development and initiatives of NGOs in the Crimea;
  • Popularization of ethnic cultures as a means to set up dialogue between different nationalities;
  • Support to the mass media that further the formation of interethnic peace and building of democratic society.


During the course of the meetings in the Crimea (see summaries below and Appendix 1 for list of additional meetings), it was apparent that the CIP has made substantial gains in addressing many of the integration needs of the FDPs, most specifically through the publication of Crimean Tatar, and other ethnic language publications, literature and textbooks and through the development of educational programs in the languages of the ethnic minority groups. According to both the CIP program board, as well as representatives of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the significance of these initiatives cannot be underestimated and should remain the focus of the CIP’s integration efforts.

At the same time, the results of CIP’s media component, in the overall context of encouraging more effective coverage of the problems of the FDPs remains problematic. As the CIP has noted in its own strategy review for 2001-2003, the media in the Crimea still “cover the problems of the Crimean Tatar people and other formerly deported minorities biasedly and with some prejudice.” The inability of the CIP program to encourage the media to address the problems of integration more effectively can be attributed to six primary factors:

  • The media in the Crimea is dominated either by Russian authorities or business groups or by local government structures often unsympathetic to the causes of the FDPs ;
  • While the CIP board is well-represented by members of the various FDPs, the majority of board members are specialists in education. Although media experts have served on the board in the past, the current board does not include any representatives of the journalistic community or specialists in media, making it difficult to ensure support for development of the media component of the CIP program;
  • In 1999, all support for the CIP media projects was discontinued, a decision that, according to former board member, Vladimir Plituna, resulted from an increasing pessimism among the board regarding the media’ s coverage of ethnic minority issues.
  • No formal assessment of the media coverage of FDPs has been carried out, making it difficult to assess, both qualitatively and quantitatively, whether coverage has increased and/or improved.
  • Perhaps as a means to ensure the independence of the IRF Crimea, the CIP has received little support from the OSI network, both financially and strategically, in developing its programs. According to IRF-Kiev media coordinator, for example, the CIP’s media strategy was never reviewed by the Ukrainian foundation and possible joint programs were rarely developed. The Network Media Program itself has had almost no involvement with the CIP and has, therefore been unable to provide its expertise in supporting projects.
  • The media component of the CIP, has, itself focused primarily on increasing the coverage of Crimean Tatars within the Crimean Tatar media, but few attempts have been made to ensure more equitable coverage of ethnic minority issues within the Russian-dominated press and other mainstream media.

In order to provide more strategic support and more focused remedies and solutions for addressing the media component of the program, this report will attempt to provide an analysis of three main areas:

  • The media environment in the Crimea;
  • An overview of the CIP media component based on meetings in Simferopol;
  • An assessment of the CIP media strategy for the years 2001-2003