Russian president Vladimir Putin has been urged to allow as many as 40,000 Jewish people who left Crimea during the reign of the Soviet Union to return to the now Russian-held peninsula, according to a Moscow Times report. Leonid Grach, head of the Crimean branch of the Communist party, has formally written to Putin to ask him to ease the complex procedures that comes with being repatriated to Russia in hopes of revitalizing Crimea.

Grach says that up to 40,000 Jews should be given the opportunity to return home, citing a figure he'd been given from Alexander Redko, leader of the pro-Russian Progressive Liberal-Democratic party of Israel. "About 40,000 Crimean Jews left the peninsula, along with other nationals, during Soviet times, and also after it became part of the independent Ukrainian state," said Redko in a phone interview with the Moscow Times late on Wednesday evening.  "Many people left Crimea after they lost what they felt was their motherland. Today we ask Putin to grant them easy access to Russian citizenship."

Since the 1970’s more than 1 million Jews left Russia and immigrated to Israel. That trend continued after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  

Grach’s request centers on the desire to revitalize Crimea's economy and politics, which have been rocked by scandal at the highest levels of government there since the region was annexed by Russia in March 2014. Over the last few weeks, there has been several high-ranking officials arrested on suspicion of economic crimes. The prime minister of the peninsula Sergei Aksyonov has also been cited in official reports as a former gangster, claims the Moscow Times.

"Today we see that criminals have come to power in Crimea, so we have a deficit of good state managers who have lived in a lawful state," said Grach. "In Israel, there are people who own their own business, who are successful and who can come and develop Crimea."