Help Ukrainian Army: Send First Aid Medicine Kit for Ukrainian Soldiers

Euromaidan PR


Euromaidan activists in Ukraine are finding ways to help the Ukrainian army.

One of the ways to do this is ship a parcel of medical supplies to a recipient in Ukraine that will pass it on to the Ukrainian soldiers in need. The facebook group EuroArmyMaydan is coordinating this process. Due to Ukraine’s customs rules, it is impossible to import them in large quantities and they have to be shipped in small parcels. Anybody that wants to support the Ukrainian army can do so by shipping necessary medical supplies to recipients in Ukraine that will get them to the frontline!

Purchase the following materials via the links and send them to the addresses provided. When you send the parcel make sure that the cost does not exceed 200$ (you can lower it in the declaration) and make sure that they are NOT SPECIFIED AS MEDICAL DEVICES.

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Why I personally do not feel the joy of Ukraine signing association with the EU 

Probably, because yesterday I was standing again on the shore of Lake Donuzlav listening to sounds of Ukrainian national anthem playing on “Olshansky” and realized that people on the ship are beyond the utter hopelessness. The captain did not answer his phone, and we send the message in Morse using a flashlight: “Glory to the heroes! Ukraine is with you!” And they were answering back from the ship. It feels like, you know, a love confession.

Probably, because I saw  wives of  marines hysterically looking at the “Slavutich”, the last free Ukrainian ship in Sevastopol. Captain’s wife was telling him on the phone: “Please, no trophies. Just bring your head back home alive, okay?”

Probably, because Crimea is completely different now, and no mountains, no palaces, no fresh air pleases me anymore. It feels like I’ve lost my home.

Furthermore, I do not feel any joy, probably, because everything that happened on Maidan was something much bigger than just a desire to sign the EU association. And no association can neutralize a portion of the poison, which we all got treated with.


The Moscow Time

March 20, 2014

by Ekaterina Sergatskova. Ukrainska Pravda. Life

Originally published in Russian here:

In the middle of the Donuzlav lake there is a lone ship: heroic Konstantin Olshansky. It is the same ship that evacuated Ukrainians and other nations during the civil war in Libya.

On March 6th, together with other Ukrainian ships, it was blocked by the Russian army.

After the referendum Olshansky  sailed away from the pier to the middle of the lake and has not returned back to the shore since that time.

“As soon as we come back to the shore, they would immediately attack us”

captain Dmitry Kovalenko says. And then he adds in sad voice:

“It will be finally resolved tomorrow. We just cannot stay at the lake. This is the end.”

By tradition, at sunset Ukrainian flag is lowered on the ship. From the shore I hear that they play Ukrainian national anthem. I text message the captain: “Glory to Ukraine!”

Never thought I would be texting a hero like that, even though he is not a victor right now. And there is none of his fault in anything that is going on right now.

A few days ago I was sitting in Kovalenko’s office listening to the stories, he and his officers were telling. His office is a small room full of shelves with books about the wars and ships, there was also a tiny couch and some freshly brewed coffee on a tray.

Every 60 minutes I was hearing a grenade exploding in the lake. Army officers looking strong and courageous, were making jokes about it, that in case of attack they would fire the cannon and “then they would get it.” They realized that they had been abandoned [by Kiev], but they also strongly believed that they would never side with the occupiers.

I don’t think they would ever side [with Russians]. They would probably give up their position, and leave getting as far away from this occupied land [as they could.]

Ukrainian military bases across Crimea are surrounded by the enemy, some of the military personnel surrender to Russians, but there are also those who would stand to the very end.

Sevastopol calls: Russian Special Forces forced them to disarm, the order was given by the new commander, and he used to be a deputy of the former “pro-Ukrainian” commander. Nevertheless, they are still [holding up] waiting for protection, provided by Kiev.

Marine Alexei Nikiforov is the one, who organized the concert of Kerch army officers and Vakarchuk was nearly crying watching them singing. He reports that they have not yet been forced to surrender, they are still being blocked by Kazaki, Russian military is not around yet.

“But, most likely,  soon everything will be resolved”

he says gloomily, although trying to sound positive.

“Forgive us – he suddenly says – Forgive us, the army, we are sorry for everything.”

Ordinary Crimeans are still in the elated mood. They drive around with Russian flags, discuss prospective realities, wondering when their salaries and pension payments would go up. But, speaking frankly, they are not so sure about the tourist season.

“Most likely, the season will not happen

– an owner of Donuzlava café says –

Well, if not, then we will cook for ourselves, and you’ll come to stay here,as well, huh?”

Crimea is preparing to switch to the Moscow time.

A couple of years ago, my colleagues and I, of the “Big Idea” project team, opened a special page on our site, named “Modern Crimea.”

We spread information about the social and cultural initiatives of the Crimea peninsula, there were more and more of them appearing and getting more support from the local innovators.

For the long time Crimea was perceived by both Russians and Ukrainians, only as a tourist destination, and there was nothing to do there, but to sunbath on the beach and to hike the mountains.

Only a few knew that in Crimea the first open lectures of the “Street University” format were launched, that the eminent project “UkrYama” was founded right there, that the environmental technologies were vigorously developing, that some very significant forums of the social enthusiasts were held in Crimea.

The social responsibility was developing slowly, but steadily, some important initiatives were created for locals, but also integrated in the all-Ukrainian context. Crimea in my eyes, was getting stronger. But suddenly…

Now peninsula would probably follow a Sochi model. Spas, resorts, and sports. Grassroots initiatives would gradually recede, because there is no place for them under a dictatorship regime.

Perhaps army is the only entity left in Crimea, who continues to stand for Ukraine’s national interests.

Ordinary Crimeans have other interests now. Crimea is preparing to switch to the Moscow time, and most likely it would.

In the Crimean Captivity. The Shocking Story of Three Being Set Free

For about two weeks by now, people in Crimea keep disappearing every day, among them are activists, journalists, and priests.

Today is the fourth day since three Automaidan activists: Natalia Lukyanenko, Sergei Suprun and Alexey Gritsenko went missing.

Yesterday, in Simferopol disappeared two cameramen of documentary cinema project “Babilon’13” Yaroslav Pilunsky and Yuri Hruzinov. Yaroslav is Crimean native, originally from Sevastopol, Yuri Hruzinov – Russian citizen, living in Kiev.


Left: Yuri Hruzinov, right: Yaroslav Pilunsky

Couple of days ago I’ve posted link to Miriam’s Drahina story about her attempt to find 6 people, journalists and activists, who went missing after being detained at the border between Crimea and continental Ukraine.

All of them were released and are back to Kiev for a while now, but they were refusing to comment on details of their detention.

And now I know why… On March 14th, three of them gave press-conference on their stay in captivity. Here is the translation of it.

The original in Ukrainian was published on Ukrainska Pravda. Life.

Please be advised, their story is somewhat graphic.

Shooting bullets just 10 centimeters from their heads, beatings, cutting their hair off, playing with a knife across their bodies, threatening to cut an ear, or nose, stripping them naked … and all of that while others are laughing and filming the process with their cellphones.

Three young people from Kiev – photographer Oles’ Kromplyas, electricity engineer Eugene Rakhno, and freelance journalist Olena Maksymenko – all had to suffer through this.

Olena said she was not physically abused as much as her male-friends Oles’ and Eugene, but she was pressured verbally a lot.

On Friday, March, 14th, young people met with reporters and told them what happened to them on March 9th and 10th, when the whole Ukraine was worried for the abducted in Crimea.

This is their story.


From left to right: Eugene Rakhno, Olena Maksymenko, Oles’ Kromplyas and Oleksiy Byk

Eugene Rakhno: I’m the car owner who was driving everybody to Crimea. My mother-in-law lives there, I wanted to see what was going on with my own eyes. According to people at the checkpoint I had some very professional equipment in my car.

I had 3 spare seats in my car, Oles’ responded the first, then Oleksiy (Byk – a journalist, who managed to pass through the checkpoint, because before everything happened, he switched to the car of his Crimean friend; he was the one who informed everybody about the missing people), he brought Lena.

Olena Maksymenko: the key charges against me appeared when they found my journalist ID (there were two of them), and my camera. But the worst thing was that there was also an accreditation with the National Headquarters of Resistance from Maidan press center.

Journalists are considered a priori enemies, who came to incite people and distort the situation.

Oles Kromplyas: I had two cameras, but managed to explain them somehow that they were not professional equipment.

Then they saw Olena’s journalist ID, but mostly they were furious about Eugene’s bulletproof vest. He purchased it legally at the Interior Ministry of Ukraine, and carried the official receipt with him. He was trying to explaine that the body armor was there only for his protection…

Then they pulled over our car further to the side of the curb, they put Olena to the side of it, and made us (Eugene and myself) go down on our knees with our hand raised up behind our heads.

There were around 200 people at the checkpoint, also there were tents and armored vehicles. And all these people just started to gather around us, to lecture us, to call us maidan-loonies, at the same time they were searching Automaidan girls (from the second car, they were captured as well.)

At that time, we were still thinking that, in the worst case scenario, they would lecture us and send us back home.

And then some berkut guys came over. The first one, said: “Look here!” and then :” Why are you looking!” Then just kicked me hard in my stomach. I was on my knees. Our hands were tied behind with plastic wraps, Olenka’s hands were tied with ducktape.

Eugene was getting the most of it, because the car belong to him. It’s an off-road SUV, there were jack and a towing cord [in the trunk]. They interrogated us, asking how we would use all of these things? Each time they did not believe the answer, they would just hit him.

Someone came up to my bag, noticed a film for my camera, and started yelling: “They are the terrorists! They were in Beslan!” What Beslan has to do with photo films?

Extravaganza of Unseen Sadism

Oles Kromplyas: When they realized that we were, according to their own slang, “serious passengers,” they took us a little further along the road and pushed into the ditch.

They put us on our knees there as well. And then they started the greatest circus for all of them – an Extravaganza of Unseen Sadism.

At first, when we had been back at the checkpoint, we still thought that because anyone could see us there, nothing would happen. But as soon as we got into the ditch, our hopes for it has just vanished away fast.

A representative of every “unit”: “titushky” in tracksuits and sneakers,  Berkut, Caucasians, local “self-defense”, every one of them has approached us.

Someone, carrying a grenade, suggested he would shove it into my mouth. Someone came up to me and hit me hard in my stomach. I’m grateful to one of my coaches in the past life, who had advised me to always announce my serious injuries. So when we were standing back at the checkpoint together with the Kazaks, I told them about my serious head injury, that any hard hit at my head would kill me immediately. So berkut guys would come over, lift my head to check out my scar and then hit some other part of my body.

Half of the questions that we were asked were just nothing else but someone pouring out his anger at us.

A Berkut guy came over and began to threaten me with his gun. He put his gun to my head and reloaded it. Someone approached carrying two spades and said we had to dig our own graves now. Someone encouraged to finish us without spitting too much blood around.

And for three hours, as long as all of this was going on, my brain began to recognize when I was threatened for nothing and when already not.

Imagine: berkut guys come up, pull out a knife, grab my ear. Or ask Eugene in some plain voice: “What do you want us to cut out? Nose or ear?”

After just an hour of such torments we realized that everything they needed was just torturing us and that they had a clear order not to beat us right in the face.

Eugene Rakhno: We were lying face down in the ditch with our hands tied behind us. They turned my head to one side and would shoot just at 5-10 centimeters from my face. With a ball cartridge. There was a bullet hole in the ground. We realized that they were not shooting blanks. And then they would put a gun to our foot or a hand, asking: “What do you want me to shoot?”

There were moments when it was clear that they were bluffing. But we realized that at any point any of them might flip out and there was no one around to calm them down.

They were constantly pushing us to provoke them.

Oles’ Kromplyas: Imagine: we were put down on the ground, shoulder to shoulder. Then one of them rested his foot on Eugene’s back, put machine gun to his head, while I was lying close watching it. And then he reloaded and shot.

Eugene twitched his head from the shock. And I was 200% positive he was shot to death.

We still have problems with our hearing.

They cut off my pants, to bare my bottom naked… And they were filming it.

Someone came up and threw a cigarette butt at my head. I was lying there realized my hair was burning. I started rolling and banging my head against the ground to stop it. And they all were laughing.

Then they grab my ear; put a knife to it as if they are about to cut it. They would cut off threads of our hair. Eugene got his trimmed after all of this, I have not. So you can see it  if you want …


Just in the center of Oles’ head there is a bald spot where Berkut guys cut off his hair with a knife

Eugene Rakhno: Or: Someone says to you: “Let’s pluck your teeth!” Then he inserts plier right into your mouth. They have not pulled out our teeth, it was another intimidation technique.

Olena Maksymenko: To us, girls, they applied less physical intimidation, but much more psychological. They tried to figure out whom we were working for, and who was paying us, and if I was ashamed to write paid-for articles.

So-called Kazaks are terrible people. They are not some “stupid troopers” like Berkut, their tortures were sophisticated and refined.

One of the Kazaks would recite a poem in Ukrainian, very dramatically, while pronouncing each word through his teeth with hatred. And then he would tell me that the world is overpopulation and surplus people have to be shut. “But whom to shoot, but people like you?”

Another one approached asking: “How would I prove to you that your “Heavenly Heroes” are rotten in hell? Just by sending you straight to join them to explain them why they were wrong.”

They forced me to remove my shoe laces, and one of the men started to choke me with them, punched me in my cheekbone, cut off part of my hair.

They said they would kill my friends in front of me, cut their heads off in front of my eyes. They threatened to cut off my ear off. I tried to keep a dialogue with them, assuring we did not want war. I think it lessen the tension a little.

There also was an “armed green man.” He would approach us once in a while, saying in a quiet voice, that they would not kill us, telling not to act stupidly, or make any sudden movements.


“I was walking naked with no pants on, just like Cossack Havryliuk”

Oles Kromplyas: Then we were taken to the checkpoint basement. I was walking from the pit I went to the checkpoint building, with no pants on, just as Cossack Havryliuk . They all were standing and laughing. And filmed this on the video.

The basement was 3 by 3 meters, with all floor covered with old jackets and mattresses. We understood that it was for long. It was the system; we were not the first one there and would not be the last one. And we might stay there for a long time.

We were warned that in case of any noise they would just shoot in the dark.

Then an army man came in, he stated to swear at the organization of it and said that the car was waiting for a long time. We were loaded in KAMAZ truck. Just like cattle, face down.

All of this time our hands were tied, generally for around 13 hours.

Two gunmen from “self-defense” were placed to guard us. They did not hide their faces; they were somewhat kinder, more adequate. Then they drove us somewhere, it was the second time when we once again started saying goodbye to our lives: we thought that they would take us right to the woods and we would be shot dead there.

Olena Maksymenko: And they were constantly reassuring us that everything would be fine.

Oles Kromplyas: But by that point we have already realized that when we were threatened to be shot – it is not so bad. And when you are told that everything was alright, then you know for sure you’d be shot.

We were allowed to sit down. They were kind, those representatives of the “self-defense.” They, for example, dressed up. We were tied, so they’ve fixed our clothes. I, for instance, had some rags instead of my pants.

Olena Maksymenko: Then we were driving for a long time, maybe for five hours. Then there was another existential moment, when we were unloaded from that trunk …

Eugene Rakhno This was en route Simferopol – Bakhchisaray – Sevastopol.

Olena Maksymenko: When we arrived, it was already late night. We put facing the wall, hands behind our back, and told to stand like this. It lasted for about two or three hours, and people with guns were constantly walking behind our backs. It was very scary. It seemed that at any moment they would be given an order – and that’s it.

Then one by one we were taken inside the building – it was a military base, so-called guardhouse. There each of us was individually interrogated, individually stripped down and our belongings were inspected – all of this was filmed on the camera. For each of us they have conducted a drug place .

Oles Kromplyas: They were very surprised when the analysis came out clean.

Olena Maksymenko: They were absolutely sure that we all on maidan were addicts.

We stayed in those cells till the 11th of March. Each of us was taken for interrogation in his own time.

Oles Kromplyas: At this guardhouse each interrogation was filmed, they indicated the exact time when it was held. When we were detained at the Armjansk checkpoint it was around 3.30-4 pm. Eugene was taken to interrogation at 3 am.

So we spend about eleven hours wearing clothes meant to be worn during the car ride: t-shirts, light jacket, and I had no pants on. We spent around 12 hours in the cold of about 2 or 3 Celsius.

We were shaking, but we stood and waited for our turn. When there were only two of us left, we were brought inside to wait in the hall, and we waited more for our turn.

Eugene Rakhno: Those who have guarded us outside were freezing themselves.  Even though, they were dressed accordingly to the weather.


Eugene Rakhno

Olena Maksymenko: People in the premises treated us more sensible compared to the “Berkut” and Kazaks, the communication could be even called enjoyable.

There was no rudeness, we were all addressed to us respectably, were asking all the time if we needed any medical assistance. Perhaps it was a kind of PR move to show how these military men as positive characters.

We were taken for interrogation on a regular basis, they crack me to confess in some journalistic espionage activities. Forced to tell them my email password, were analyzing my letters, my text messages, asked: “Why have you written an article about Russian aggression?” I said that I have not written an article like this, they said that there was an email with the link and reference with my name. I asked where it was published, and they just shut up. And there were many moments like this.

Oles Kromplyas: So they charged each of us with different accusations. I had a film that sparked some very big surprise: they saw that I had a lot of photos from Maidan, just from the front raws.  there were also from Anti-maidan.

I still had my wallet with money on me, and there they found some “ticket with lucky numbers” that I was foolishly saving. They immediately put checked them, they had a suspicion that there were some secret codes.

I mean, they suspected me in some espionage activities . Asked for whom I was working, who was transmitting data, whom we would meet and so on.

I told them the truth. After all, if had been caught on lies, it would be much worse. Then, when they told us that the car had arrived, they took all of us out.

Olena Maksymenko: They constantly scared us with “Berkut,” if they did not like our answers. They told me that the next time I would talk to “Berkut “. And during informal conversations, they told that it was Kyiv “Berkut,” which was in the Crimea by then, and Russia gave Russian passports to them.

I do not know if it was true, but we have heard this version many times from different soldiers, from different people.


Olena Maksymenko

Oles Kromplyas: When we were let go, we were put in a Mercedes Vito .

Some lieutenant colonel of some Special Forces of the Russian Federation came, and said that he did not care what we would write afterwards. He said that his purpose was to take us to that check point and to negotiate with ”Berkut “.

He said that the Cossacks and “Berkut” believed no one, that they were out of control, that he would try to arrange that we would be allowed to go.

Then we were just brought to that same checkpoint. And there were just like in Mordor: some people were digging something, others were burying, some armed vehicles were moving around.

Cars were not allowed in; APC vehicle has blocked the road from Ukraine. Cars going from Armjansk to Ukraine were not allowed in. A lot of cars were standing there with no license plates. Then we parked, while two Russian APC’s were covering us.

In about half an hour they managed to get us through “Berkut» we were driven up to the Cssacks, who did not want to give Eugene’s car back.

It turned out that they were driving it around and they have used it for hunting, it was all covered in dirt. Then our guards in riot gear walked us through them and put in the car. We were allowed to get to Ukraine’s checkpoint.

Imagine all the people living life in peace

Imagine all the people living life in peace

Imagine all the people living life in peace

I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one

My Referendum

Well, guys. I declare the Referendum to be officially open!
I am citizen of Russian Federation with residence permit in Simferopol, Crimea.

This morning I received a ballot to vote on referendum, Woman, who didn’t find me on the list of registered voters just hand-wrote my name on the separate piece of paper and handed me a ballot with a comment: “Well, if you live here, you can vote.”

Here you go, CrimeaImage

Bakhchysarai. Now You’re With Us. Now You’re Not.

Long overdue translation of my interview with Ilimi Umerov, head of Regional Administration of Bakhchysarai, who decided to boycott the referendum. Ironically, I post it here on the day when referendum is held. 

by Ekaterina Sergatskova, Ukrainian Pravda. Life.
Originally published in Russian:

It is unusually quiet next to the military base in Bakhchysarai. It’s so quiet, it gets suspicious. There are no “self defense forces,” no Russian Cossacks, no “green military men.”  All of them are not around. That’s because they are already inside, behind the fence. Armed, quiet men in black masks are walking side by side along Ukrainian soldiers.

Creepy feeling.

As if you come home one day, but someone else is already lives in your house:  cooking dinner in your kitchen, wiping their hands with your clean crispy towels…

On March 9th, during the car-rally held by pro-Russian activists in Bakhchysarai, Vladimir Sadovnik, commander in charge of Bakhchysarai Ukrainian military base, crashed his bike into the cars, while being completely drunk, according to the witnesses. Just after the accident, for some unclear reason, he was taken to the Simferopol military enlistment station, and was held there for at least 24 hours.

When he came back to the base the next day, some of the Russian military men and their “support squad” of so-called “Crimean Self Defense” were welcoming him already from the inside of the base. Sadovnik offered to soldiers and officers to decide each one of them personally which side to take. Sadovnik’s own words, half of the base personnel turned to the Russian side, this is why Russians [occupants] were welcome inside the base.

“They were shooting at us, while taking over the base. Now they’ve already got through the gates, – tells the commander, – and they live there now, live just in our barracks.”

Sadovnik sports a black eye, but I can’t tell whether he got it during the fight after the crash or while staying in the recruitment office. Although he still thinks that it is just a simple coincidence that the base was captured while he was away.

From the military base I went straight to the office of the head of Bakhchysarai regional administration. Walking across the city, I didn’t meet a single person on my way. Even the administration building was deserted.

Ilimi Umerov is sitting quietly in his chair.

You’re one of the officials who are publicly boycotting the referendum. How effective do you think your position is and how does the rest of the city react to it?

Boycotting is not always effective. It is only an opinion or position…

He stops the conversation to sign the letters addressed to Turchinov and Yatsenyuk (Interim president and interim prime minister of Ukraine.) In this letters he asks them not to recognize the results of the referendum and to order Crimean officials not to follow orders of criminals. After that, he signs an address to Bakhchysarai residents, asking them to boycott the referendum.


Boycotting the referendum – it’s a position that won’t always be effective to stop it from happening. If it’s just me boycotting, even if I’m the head of the regional administration,  while everyone else, every other organization and political party, support it – they (Crimean government) will proceed with it in any case. I cant stop the referendum on my own. 

Yes, I consider it illegal, because it is against the Constitution of Ukraine and Ukrainian law on referendum. The Constitution does not allow for regional referendums  decide on territorial status or changing the borders. This is from the legal point of view.

There is also a moral point of view. Decision about the referendum was decided by the Verhovna Rada (parliament of Crimea,) it’s questionable if there was a quorum, also the session itself was held under the threat of armed men. No matter how hard they are trying to convince that this have never happened, that there are no “green army men” ,- the truth is – they have been there, we saw them with our own eyes, and they didn’t deny they were Russian soldiers. At the same time, their commanders are denying it. 

At first, they wanted to hold this session on 26th of February, but we didn’t allow that, we held a big protest. I should admit though, it was on the brink of failure.

Crimean Tatars called out to all pro-Ukrainian forces and people to gather, not to let the Crimean Parliament meet, but “Russian unity” also had a protest at the same location. Crimean Tatars were pushed out, there were fights, and probably some people were injured.

That day, the parliament didn’t hold a session, but the night of 27th, the both buildings of the Parliament and the Council of Ministers were occupied by armed men – back then they were called simply “armed men.” These men took the deputies of the Crimean parliament in, seized their cell phones and showed them to the voting floor. 


“Green Armed Men” on the balcony of the Parliament of Crimea, Simferopol, February 27. Photo by Svetlana Gavrylenko

As of right now the referendum ballot asks two questions, but essentially they do not differ. 

There is no difference, because if we remember the Constitution of 1992, Crimea has a status of a “republic”, it was acting by signing agreements with Ukraine. Now, if we return that Constitution, current government of Crimea will sign such agreements with Russia, not Ukraine. People are simply being lied to, when they are told that there is an “alternative.”

(He is refers to the way that questions are formulated in the ballot: 1. Are you in favor of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea reuniting with Russia as a constituent part of the Russian Federation? Or 2. Are you in favor of restoring the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea of 1992 and of Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine?)

Is there a way out?

The way out is to boycott, turn to the government of Ukraine, ask them to take adequate measures and to turn to the international community, leaders of the prominent countries, leaders of the EU, UN, asking them to react to the things that are going on here. 

Ukraine, as a country, has to classify foreign armed forces, which we all currently witness in Crimea, as terrorists in case they are not Russian army, and in case they are Russian army, they should be classified as occupants. There is no third choice here.

Do you think the boycott can attract the masses? It was announced only by you and the head of Belogorsk. Do you have any other support?

In my opinion, the break down looks something like this: Crimean Tatars are 99.9% support the boycott. As for the rest of the population, in my opinion, about half of them will not participate in the referendum, and the other half will be obediently voting in favor of joining Russia.

Looking at it from the standpoint of the organizers of referendum, it would take place in any case, regardless of who opposes it and in what way. In the paper they issued to regulate referendum, there is no stipulation of how many people have to participate to call it happened.

Even in case if only one person shows up – hence the referendum is declared as it was held.


Ilmi Umerov. Photo

Have you, as the head of the city administration, receive any threats? Have anyone tried to demote you?

– No. At least, not during the period of Maidan and, later, when events moved further South and East. I think they don’t see a point of it. 

I’ve been here for nine years. In that time our economic stats went up, although in situations like this, it counts for nothing. All that counts is “with us” or “against us.”

Well, and you, by today’s standards, are “against them.”

Yes. For some people in administration, I am. Three years ago, Yanukovych fired me the same way as he fired every head of the regional administration throughout Ukraine. I was the only one who was reappointed back after 21 days of my dismissal, responding to the public pressure of the community.

Yanukovych personally interviewed me right here, in Bakhchysarai. That was the first time when Yanukovych conducted personal interview with someone as low as my position.

Did he realize that you had popular public support? … And do you know anything about “self-defense” squads of Crimean Tatars in Bakhchysarai?

Of course, i do.

How are they organized, what are their plans?

To tell you the truth, they don’t have any serious formations. They are organized in small groups, we call them crews.  Five people get in the car and patrol the neighborhood. In my tiny neighborhood listed as many as 36 of such groups

In fact, there’ are more people joining every day. The crews divide the city districts accordingly, and patrol the assigned territory at night.

They don’t attack or defend. They carry no weapons. They just observe. If anything happens, they must report to the head of local Majlis, who, in turn, reports to the regional head and, after all, they decide on the measure to respond.

The conversations got interrupted again: Umerov gets a call from Simferopol, the one that says that the Crimean parliament decided to take over all regional administrations.

Another illegal decision – he says.

And what would you do now?

Not obey. – He smiles.

And what if Russian “self-defense” gets you?

( Sighs ) The scariest or the most dangerous fact is that right after the actions these people take as members of “self-defense” squads, the same people might also act as provocateurs. And if we react back to their deeds, the Russian army will justify its actions as the response to the threats toward Crimean Russians.

And what do we do now?

You know, a schizophrenic is in power…

And do you mean someone specifically? There are a lot of those, who would fit this description, in my opinion

Aksenov. It’s clear that the police won’t help; they are demoralized and are collaborating with the “self defense” forces. What should we do? I don’t know, I have never thought about it.

I expected this to happen one day, but I thought they would put their own men in charge of regional administrations. But they, on the contrary, first got reassured [obedience of the current heads of the regional administrations] and now, much later, they would replace them. Well, we’ll see…


In your opinion, will the Crimean Tatars remain nonviolent further on?

I’m positive about it. Because we stand by this (nonviolent) position. Never have we instigated any conflict, although [I admit that] there were several conflicts [happening] here [in Crimea].

All that said, Bakhchysarai feels very calm at the moment.

And it has to pay  its own price – Umerov sighs again – it takes a lot [of nerves] to talk to everyone individually, assuring all of them that they are right, and at the same time explaining them that there are some good people who think differently, and we have to respect their opinion as well.

After this meeting, we were informed that Vladimir Putin has personally invited Mustafa Cemil to Kremlin. Mustafa is a former leader of the Crimea Tatar Mejlis, currently he serves as a deputy of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

As for the current leader of Crimean Tatars’  Majlis, Refat Chubarov, he stated that, despite Crimean parliament offering to provide some benefit package for Tatars, Tatars ignore this offer and do not recognize this referendum as legitimate…