A sizable population of Tatars had lived in Crimea for centuries until May 1944, when they were deported en masse by the Stalinist regime to barren sites in Central Asia, where they were compelled to live for more than four decades and were prohibited from returning to their homeland.Stalin also forcibly deported smaller populations of Armenians, Bulgarians, and Greeks from Crimea, completing the ethnic cleansing of the peninsula.Nevertheless, the post-Stalin power struggle was by no means over in early 1954, and Khrushchev was trying to line up as much support as he could on the CPSU Presidium for a bid to remove Malenkov from the prime minister’s spot (a feat he accomplished in January 1955).Among those whose support Khrushchev was hoping to enlist was Oleksiy Kyrychenko, who had become first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine in early June 1953 (displacing Leonid Mel’nykov, who had succeeded Khrushchev in that post in December 1949) and soon thereafter had been appointed a full member of the CPSU Presidium.Crimea was part of Russia from 1783, when the Tsarist Empire annexed it a decade after defeating Ottoman forces in the Battle of Kozludzha, until 1954, when the Soviet government transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukr SSR).The transfer was announced in the Soviet press in late February 1954, eight days after the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution authorizing the move on 19 February.
Khrushchev had been elevated to the post of CPSU First Secretary in September 1953 but was still consolidating his leading position in early 1954.
The text of the resolution and some anodyne excerpts from the proceedings of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet meeting on 19 February were published along with the very brief announcement. Nothing else about the transfer was disclosed at the time, and no further information was made available during the remainder of the Soviet era.
Not until 1992, just after the Soviet Union was dissolved, did additional material about this episode emerge.
Unfortunately, these documents do not add anything of substance to what was published in the Soviet press 38 years earlier; indeed, they are mostly identical to what was published in 1954.
(Apparently, the editors of were unaware that the scripted proceedings of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium meeting had already been published in 1954.) The documents do confirm that the move was originally approved by the Presidium of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on 25 January 1954, paving the way for the authorizing resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet three weeks later.
The Stalinist regime encouraged ethnic Russians to settle in those republics from the late 1940s on, and this policy continued under Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev.