22 Jul 2021 10:36

Zelensky signs into law bill on indigenous peoples of Ukraine

KYIV. July 22 (Interfax) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed into law a bill on the indigenous peoples of Ukraine, the presidential press service said.

"President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has signed into law the bill 'On the indigenous peoples of Ukraine' No. 1616-IX which he himself initiated and which was passed by the Verkhovna Rada on July 1, 2021," the press service said.

"The objective of the document is to maximally protect the cultural, information and other rights of the indigenous peoples, to provide them with mechanisms and instruments of interaction with the Ukrainian state. In particular, it recognizes the representative bodies of the indigenous peoples," the press service said.

The law defines the notion of "indigenous people" and legislates as such the Crimean Tatars, Karaites, and Krymchaks.

Under the document, "an indigenous people of Ukraine is an autochtonal ethnic group formed in Ukraine, which maintains its own language and culture, traditional social, cultural, and representative organs, self-identifies as an indigenous people while making up an ethnic minority of the country's population, and does not have its own state education outside Ukraine."

"The indigenous peoples have a right to self-determination within Ukraine and a political status within the framework of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. They have a collective and individual right to fully avail themselves of all human rights and fundamental freedoms," according to the law.

The law also prohibits denying the ethnic affiliation or ethnic uniqueness of Ukraine's indigenous peoples.

Under the law, the country's indigenous peoples are entitled to take steps to revive and develop their spiritual, religious, and cultural customs and traditions, to safeguard their material and non-material cultural heritage, to determine their own list of places and objects of religious and cultural significance, to restore their historical place names, to cooperate with educational establishments to promote the studying of their language, history, and culture.

Ukraine's indigenous peoples also have a right to set up their media outlets and to gain access to state support acting through their representative bodies.

In addition, "the indigenous peoples may spend part of proceeds from the use of natural resources located in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol on their needs, on reserving agricultural and other lands for representatives of indigenous peoples returning to the territory of Crimea," according to the law.

The representative bodies of the indigenous peoples may participate in their international representation.

The law enters into force upon publication (apart from Part 3 of Article 7, which allows the indigenous peoples to spend part of proceeds from the use of natural resources on the needs of Ukraine's indigenous peoples; this point will take effect after Crimea and Sevastopol return to Ukraine's general jurisdiction).