In the referendum of 1 December 1991, all regions of the then Ukrainian SSR voted in favour of Ukrainian independence – even the Crimean peninsula (54%). This referendum sealed the end of the Soviet Union and the transition to an independent Ukrainian state in the Soviet-era boundaries. The political integration of Crimea was the first territorial challenge for the Ukrainian state. A pro-Russian regional separatist movement failed to obtain Russia’s support in the mid-1990s, and the struggle between Kyiv and Simferopol was ultimately defused by a prolonged negotiation over a weak, but symbolically important autonomy status for Crimea.
About the speaker
Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse has been the Director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) in Berlin since its establishment in 2016. She is also the Einstein-Professor for the Comparative Study of Democracy and Authoritarianism at Humboldt University, Berlin (since 2021). Previously, she was Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include the dynamics of democracy and authoritarianism, war, migration, and protest, primarily with a focus on Eastern Europe.
Her current research concentrates on the war and border regimes in Ukraine, mass mobilization in Belarus, societal dynamics in Russia, and social and political remittances. Her book The Crimea Question: Identity, Transition, and Conflict (Harvard University Press 2007; paperback 2014) won the Alexander Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies.