According to the census of 1939, Crimea constituted: Russians 49.6%, Ukrainians 13.7%, Crimean Tatars 19.4% and Jews 5.8%. After the deportation of the Crimean Tatars following the Second World War to Central Asia, the territory of Crimea was populated by Russians and Ukrainians. To illustrate the change, in the 1959 Soviet census (first census after WWII) the population of Crimea consisted of Russians 71.4%, Ukrainians 22.3% and Jews 2.2% (Polyan 2001). In accordance with the last census in 2001, the Slavic (Russian and Ukrainian) population of Crimea are approximately 58.5% and 24.4% respectively (National Population Census in Ukraine, 2001).
According to opinion polls in May 2009, 32.3% of Crimean residents supported an idea of separation of Crimea from Ukraine. In May 2011, this rate fell to 24.4%.
Furthermore, the number of residents who would support a plan for a Crimean Russian national autonomous region inside of Ukraine has also decreased (19.5% in 2009, 2.3% in 2011). Instead, the percentage of residents supporting a broad autonomous region inside Ukraine has increased to 30.9% (Opinion Polls: Crimea, 2006-2011, Razumkov Centre).
Any separatist activity of the Tatar ethnic minority has been rarely analysed as a real phenomenon and a conflict factor in Crimea, but recent opinion polls show that at least 2% of Crimea’s residents support separation of the Crimea and subsequent annexation of this territory to Turkey, bearing in mind that Crimean Tatars constitute just over 12% of the regional population (Opinion Polls: Crimea, Razumkov Centre, April – May 2011).
In comparison to other regions in Ukraine, the process by which institutional exclusion occurs in Crimea is arguably more devastating, underwritten by corrupt commercial and political networks that are created around the illegal distribution of land with the full knowledge and even participation of local authorities. Local public servants play the decisive role and manage the process of the illegal land business.