Ukrainian Lawmakers cancel free trade zone Crimea, businesses will no longer benefit from loophole: Umerov

Crimean Tatars
Canan Kevser
02 July 2021, 12:34
Canan Kevser
02 July 2021, 12:34

Lawmakers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has cancelled the Crimea free trade zone, which was introduced by law in August 2014, contradicting to rights of Ukrainian citizens living in the temporarily occupied Crimea. No business will benefit from the loophole to conduct trade activities, MP Rustem Umerov says.

The adoption of the relevant bill on recognizing as invalid the law of Ukraine on the creation of a free economic zone (FEZ) "Crimea" and on the specifics of performing economic activities in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and on amending some legislative acts of Ukraine was supported by 328 lawmakers at an extraordinary parliament meeting on Thursday, July 1.

"Taking into account the circumstances that operated in 2014, the law, in fact, introduced preferential conditions for the continuation of economic activities in the temporarily occupied territory. At the same time, the law regulated the implementation of the rights of Ukrainian citizens who remained to live in the temporarily occupied territory and introduced additional restrictions (in particular, customs), in the tax legislation such citizens were equated to non-residents," the government said in the explanatory note.

The abolished law was discriminating Crimeans

In an exclusive interview with QHA, Member of Ukrainian Parliament, Delegate of the Qurultay of Crimean Tatar People Rustem Umerov told that the particular law caused discrimination against citizens of Ukraine who have remained to live in the temporarily occupied territory or are registered in this territory.

"When the law on Crimea Free Trade Zone was created in 2014 and approved by the parliament, the situation of Crimean citizens was unclear (under occupation). Therefore, Verkhovna Rada passed a very comprehensive bill. As a result, two main problems emerged. The first is discrimination. Unfortunately, our citizens in Crimea were considered foreigners according to this bill. We have been stating for seven years that the situation contradicts human rights," Umerov said.

Entry-exit to occupied Crimea will be rearranged

The bill also proposes to regulate the procedure for persons entering and leaving the temporarily occupied territory, securing the right to free secondary legal aid for Ukrainian citizens living in the temporarily occupied territory and ensuring the implementation of the right to inheritance for such persons.

"The law in question has been declared invalid. Thus, Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea now have equal rights and obligations as others. Registering in Crimea will no longer create a problem for Ukrainian citizens. They can pay their taxes, some other problems will also disappear. Besides, from now on, all necessary procedures for crossing the administrative border between Crimea and the mainland of Ukraine will be fixed," the Ukrainian MP added.

"The abolition of this law is a great victory. Thanks to this, we are also prepared for the Crimean Platform Summit."

Rustem Umerov

Terms for foreigners remain unchanged

The situation does not affect foreign citizens. However, after that, no Ukrainian company can operate with de-jure status in Crimea. Some had a licence before, but from now on, these permits are cancelled. No person was allowed to conduct trade activities in the occupied lands already, but some businesses were able to trade with de-jure status, taking advantage of the gap within this law.

"No one had previously been allowed to trade in the occupied territories, but some businesses were taking the advantage of the loophole within the law to trade in de-jure status," Umerov said.

He asserted that since the law in question has been cancelled, no one will be able to use it for their own benefit.