As The Great Revolutionary continues it’s study and research of the Ukrainian crisis we have had the privilege to get in touch with residents of the hotly disputed region of Crimea. It is our faithful approach to allow the people to speak for themselves, without any editing or spinning of their words. What we present is an unfiltered explanation of the situation in Crimea through those who are currently living there. If you have any other questions or ideas that you would like us to pass along to our contacts, feel free to leave them in the comments.
“Hello, you were asking what the opinion of people living in Crimea was (regarding the situation in Ukraine). I was born and raised in Crimea and can still remember it during the Soviet times as a thriving area. My city Kerch after the fall of the Soviet Union died. In the 90’s everyone was too busy trying to survive and very few were interested in political questions. However, only after a certain time did we begin to realize that – we are Ukraine. This fact was an unpleasant surprise. All these 23 years (after the fall of the Soviet Union) have seen a subtle, but very active Ukranization: The school curriculum, revisionist history, heavy focusing on Ukrainian achievements in all fields of science, creating one official language, having all shows and films in Ukrainian. No one asked even then our opinion. People in my age group and older were disenfranchised by all of this. Some wouldn’t even go to see films/movies because of Ukrainian translations.
During all these years many intelligent and hard-working people moved away from Crimea, mostly to Russia. Some simply didn’t want to be Ukrainizied, some simply got tired of the constant conflicts in the country that caused constant financial instability. However those who remained tried their best to explain to their children a realistic viewpoint without any nationalistic context, because Crimea is home to many nationalities and is very diverse. The political parties would use this diversity for their benefit, this potential conflict: from one side Russian-speakers and Russia, on the other side Ukrainians and Europe. And because there never were worthy politicians to lead, people would vote along these lines, and to the last moments would still believe that one day contradicting politics and views would stop ripping us apart and we would all finally live better. We believed in this before Maidan!!
We understood immediately that those protests were organized and sponsored very well. And we understood that many people who stood there did not fully comprehend what exactly was going on. It also became apparent that the president was not capable of dealing with these situations and that Europe was very interested in this unfolding situation. After the overthrow of the government the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine seized to exist for Ukraine. Everything and for everyone now was decided by “Maidan”. This became the last drop in our overflowing cup of patience. All the resulting decisions of the “government” were enacted to aggravate and escalate the situation.
Our friends from Kiev were telling us that we were misinformed and that all that had happened was for the best, forgetting that we were receiving information from the same Ukrainian channels that they were. In fact, from the first day of the Maidan the mass media outlets began their war against us. In the background of the flood of lies and twisting of our own attempt at speaking Russian the slogan “One Nation, One Ukraine” looked ever more cynical and with that made us even madder. Then we began public meetings with our own Ukrainian citizens carrying Russian and Georgievsky flags. These were not citizens of Russia, but our own people. This was the scream of despair. And I understand this is hard to understand, how citizens of one country can wave the flag of another country.[ezcol_1third] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]
The Emperor Nikolay I, for exceptional actions, gave two ships the right to raise and fly the Georgievsky Flag.
Battleship ‘Azov’ – Was awarded the Georgievsky Flag on December 17, 1827 for showing courage and valor in attaining victory during the Battle of Navarino.
Battleship ‘Mercury’ – Was awarded the Georgievsky Flag on July 28, 1829 for victory in unfavorable circumstances in battle with two Turkish battleships.
These honors had become achievements to the highest degree, that all succeeding Emperors did not bestow this honor since. However, these honorary flags have been passed on to their newer updated ships, named after these two heroic ships: “Memory of Azov” and “Memory of Mercury”.
But when no one wants to hear us, and we begin to understand that behind the Maidan lies Europe, the US and NATO and that only simple Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine are for the East, that’s when we realize were just another problem for our own country, what would you say we do? Turn for help to the only country which like us is trying to speak the truth about us, just to yell out to everyone “hey people, we’re still here, we’re also people and we too want to decide at least something, at the least that which regards our own fate and our families!!!” Conclusion: Ukraine has not taken any steps to reach out to us, and in fact has done the opposite by trying by force and using all legal and illegal methods to crush all the attempts of our people to yell out SOS and defend ourselves. Ukrainian mass media continues to poison us against each other. The only entity which together with us is trying to resolve our regional conflict is Russia, and we are very thankful to it for that.”
What is the situation in Kerch right now? Will the city take part in the referendum?
All of Crimea will take part in this referendum. To be honest everyone is feeling rather different at the moment. For some it makes more sense to break away from Ukraine, some afraid to go against Kiev. After all you know how people are: they are very brave when it comes to words, but in action it is another matter. The City of Heroes, Kerch, during Soviet times was an industrial city and it had one of the biggest shipbuilding factories called “Gulf”. This factory employees most of the residents of Kerch, and this factory was built by the people themselves. With the fall of the Soviet Union, as with many other businesses, our factory became nonoperational. The male population left to make money in Russia. And since that time the situation has not changed.
Out of three possible outcomes; Remain a part of Ukraine, become a part of Russia or create your own independent state, which variation has the most ground support?
More than likely we would favor becoming a part of Russia. Our Ukrainian TV channels have since been turned off, and so the Ukrainian brainwashing is no longer operating against us. We still have Russian news, and it is much more lighter and isn’t quite as frightening. The prospect of having a completely independent government is not even being discussed. The fact that Ukraine is tightening it’s grip here (blocking accounts, blogs and websites) is not changing the minds of the people to it’s side. Almost everyone is very afraid that after the referendum (considering majority will vote to break-away) that war will break out. In all honestly, this is our greatest threat at the moment. Promises that are coming from the powers in Kiev, which has decided to somehow give in to us is not being received by the people here anymore, there is no more trust left.
What is the situation in Sevastopol at the moment?
The people in Sevastopol are calm, confident and uplifted. Everyone is getting ready for the referendum. Some world institutions do not want to recognize the referendum but the people are rejoicing, rejoicing indeed. Of course you can feel tension in the air, but today we are preparing for the holiday (March 8th – International Women’s Day), and everyone is buying gifts and flowers – tomorrow is Women’s Day. People are of course calm, just yesterday everyone was smiling and happy that there is a possibility of freeing ourselves from under Ukraine’s occupation. However people are not entirely believing this will be, because Crimea and Sevastopol will not be given away so easily. Currently we receive threats about sanctions from the EU, people are afraid of changes, but for now there is the intention to go all the way, no matter what. For businesses this means operating with rubles (Russian currency)…what awaits us in the future no one can know for sure. It’s just like a roller coaster – where it can turn the very next moment is a surprise. You won’t see any Russian soldiers anywhere, they were called “The Green People”, when they were still here. People would bring produce and food to them and feed them and would take pictures with them, people waved and smiled to them.
Right now the hottest question debated is the referendum, how will Sevastopol vote? And what about the Russian soldiers? Where did they go?
No one knows where they are now. They do not have any identifying insignia, are they marines or special forces? No one really knows what branch they belong too, they wear new uniforms and they carry new weapons, this at least is noticeable. They operated very quickly and within one night 300 fighters took over all command posts, airports and military installments with 20-30 people to each one. They did quick work, paralyzing the entire Ukrainian army [in Crimea] within a few hours.
Also, regarding the referendum to take place, ex-president Tymoshenko recently in Germany said that there can be no referendum under the barrel of a Kalashnikov. She was referring to the presence of Russian soldiers in Crimea. What is your reaction to these comments?
The people were very happy to see the soldiers. It made people more relaxed. Everyone was afraid of gangs coming down from Kiev. After all, there [Kiev] they openly walk with firearms, threaten the police, kill journalists (for example they killed a journalist from the channel VESTI). Radicals from Western Ukraine called “Right Sector” are very dangerous. They storm administrations, municipalities, and would handcuff governors, pouring water over them as they forced them on their knees to apologize to the people. They are the ones who yell “Knife the Moscovites”, carry weapons, and even threaten and attack the public prosecutors. The new authority does not put warrants out for these people in the meantime, which is likely to be because these people are being funded by the new authority itself and are covered by it (Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko). Therefore our newly elected authority by the people had to figure out a way to stop these radicals from making their way here. And hence you had these “Green People” appear. They are widely loved here, even though they are already gone. We have created self-defense forces from our population, which is done on a full volunteer basis without any pay. Tymoshenko is simply lying.
And yet, for the average resident of Sevastopol who is Tymoshenko and the current authority in Kiev?
We don’t like Tymoshenko. She stole a lot of money from the budget, in her negotiations for gas and does’t like Russians (I’m not sure why – her father is Armenian and her mother is Ukrainian, she herself was part of the People’s Party). She would say a lot of bad things about Russia. Her party members argue to turn off Russian television channels, turn Crimea into a regular region of Ukraine, and fine for the use of the Russian language. This new authority in Kiev for the average person appear to be fascists, akin to Hitler for example. This new authority was not selected by Crimea – they came to power by force. They ended up killing police which was standing without arms.
Can you briefly tell me about the important history of Crimea, and if it’s specific history has an impact on the people living there and their allegiances?
The history of Crimea is very extensive, it would be impossible to write all of it. In 1870 there was the Russo-Turkish war which ended with a Russian victory and Catherine (the German Empress) built mosques for the Turks who remained (they are the same Crimean Tatars), and there is about 200,000 of them here. More than half of them push more towards Turkey, or want to join the EU, and do not like Russia.
Besides getting these extensive letters with a lot of interesting information, we also got a few more emotional and singular responses from the pro and anti viewpoints.
“I can’t imagine there are people in America who still do not know the truth about Ukraine? Are you just like the pro-Russian people who believe in some kind of normal Russian motives? Or were you just hired?”
“Everything is great and calm. Please tell the Americans that Crimea was not occupied, but saved, from Tatars starting bloodshed”
We will be happy to get in touch with anyone who may have interesting information or could provide us with information on the ground. Please contact us here.
We will continue our watch over the events in Crimea and Ukraine. The referendum to break away from Ukraine will take place March 16 and will be a historical moment for the entire region. Many people are worried about potential chaos that could break away at a succession attempt. It is still not clear how the major countries will engage each other over this disputed political dilemma.
In the meantime we pray for the safety of all people living in Ukraine and Russia and in between.