The years following the breakup of the Soviet Union were really rough even in the real timeline. Even though the independence referendum passed with something like 90%, there was some nostalgia for the stability and better economy of the USSR.
In this alternative timeline, with its war and so on, I bet people would be even more nostalgic.
(Also, the history of the cave/fort town of Çufut Qale/Чуфут-Кале/Chufut-Kale/Чуфут-Кале, /Çıfıt Kale/Къале, Qale/Chufut Kale is fascinating. I don't want to bore you guys with history lessons, but if you want to hear more, hit me up in the comments.)
I feel like a jerk for having neglected this site. Ah, real life.
That being said, no one really knows when the town was built. It may be Byzantine and date back to the 500s. We don't really know. It was owned by the Alan people for a while, then the Tatars sacked the area and quartered their soldiers there. (Bekir and the other Cemilev bros in the comic are Tatars.) They also had Karaite craftsmen live there. Remember the Karaites -- we're gonna come back to them.
When the Golden Horde (Mongolians who demanded -- and got -- tribute from Russia for centuries) fell, this fort became less strategic and the capital of the Tatar Khanate was moved to Bakhchisarai (the town Iaroslav is running to).
The Tatars were gone and only Karaites were left by the mid-1600s.
It was taken over, with the rest of the Crimea, during the *first* Crimean War, if I remember right.