A long-time listener of Mark Schauss’ Russian Rulers’ History podcast (now called Russian History Re-told), I would like to give him a shout-out for his podcast last week on Crimea.
While I disagree with his theory behind Russia’s Ukrainian incursion – he believes Putin wanted to gin up instability in order to keep oil prices high and enjoy a post-Sochi bump in government revenue – he did introduce me to Yuri Meshkov, a lesser-known figure in Ukrainian history.
Who is Yuri Meshkov?
Well, before the adoption of Ukraine’s current constitution, and before the much-discussed Budapest Memorandum guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty, Yuri Meshkov was elected as the first and only President of Crimea in post-Soviet history.
Per Wikipedia, his election platform consisted of:
– Facilitating much closer relations with Russia up to the possible annexation of Crimea by Russia.
– Introducing the Russian ruble as the currency of Crimea
– Issuing Russian passports to citizens of Crimea
– Shifting Crimea to the same time zone as Moscow
The only initiative he was able to successfully implement was the shift to the Moscow time zone.
In fact, Meshkov’s Vice President, Yevgeny Saburov, wasn’t even a Ukrainian citizen (he was Russian).
Meshkov has been deported from Ukraine twice, and his background is classic Soviet apparatchik.
The case of Meshkov makes it clear that Russia has had designs on Crimea for a long time, and the latest incursion was not planned over night.