Crimea. The Upside Down World.
[My 2nd Day in Crimea, occupied by Russian army]by Ekaterina Sergatskova, Ukrainian Pravda. Life. Originally published in Russian: http://life.pravda.com.ua/society/2014/03/4/155436/ March 4, 2014
Discussion about civil war should have started with discussion about Crimea.
If there is a civil war somewhere – it is happening now in Crimea, not in Kiev, where Ukrainian special forces confronted civilians while defending people in power.
Ukrainian army in Crimea is still defending civilians regardless the orders by Aksenov, self-proclaimed head of Crimea’s Council of Ministers.
Yesterday “pro-Ukrainian activists” – rarely anyone calls them that neutral name here, but mostly “banderovtzi” or “fascists”, – gathered spontaneously without flags and posters outside Simferopol military unit in order to support the troops. A few activists offered to stay at the military unit for the night, just in case.
A colonel came out and promised that the military will stay on the side of the people no matter what. We wanted to believe him – he was sincere. You could feel he cared.
While colonel was talking with the activists, a group of thugs gathered near the military unit. We would call them “titushki” if we were in Kiev. Red faces, hangover odor, and cigarettes in their mouths – grim spectacle. In Crimea they are called “self-defense.”
In Crimea everything is upside down.
Instead of Ukrainian flags, people are wearing tricolor (Russian) flags. Yellow and blue ribbons here are considered a prank. If you wear Ukrainian symbols you are considered a nationalist and “banderovets.” If you speak Ukrainian you are a provocateur. Anybody who asks too many questions is also provocateur.
“Pro-Ukrainian activists” have to walk around quietly. None of them discusses meetings over the phone anymore.
In a tent of the Communist party on Lenin square they were gathering opinions of what to do with the statue of the “leader.” There were three options: to move it, to leave it, or to build a fountain in its place. It seems the majority voted to leave it as is.
“Why to demolish it? It’s my history! – one Afghan veteran was annoyed. He already recognizes my face now. It’s the same guy who a few days ago was telling me he had been hosed with “Molotov cocktails” in Kiev. “If someone needs this fountain, they can position it right in front of Lenin. So what?”
One elderly woman is holding a poster with “Our Russia” written in red and hammer and sickle painted on it. I asked her “why are there Soviet symbols on your poster if you are pro-Russia?”
She answered “because Russia is Soviet Union. Haven’t you studied it in school?”
At the same time, I am attacked by another elderly woman. She says I am recording a lie. “But I’m broadcasting it live, whatever you are saying, that’s being shown right now” – I try to defend myself.
She is grabbing my hands and yelling “You are lying, anyways!” And she is supported by people behind.
People are gathering from all sides and saying that they want a union Russia-Ukraine-Belarus to be created. Someone states: “Let the father Lukashenko come here and bring us order!”
Crimea – is an upside down world.
Thousands of people on Maidan came out for changes, for progressive development in the country, but here, in Crimea, people demand reversion. When people on Maidan look each other in the eye they saw new type of thinking, far from Sovietism, but here, in Crimea, people are sharing the views of already perished, degrading epoch.
By carrying and wearing Soviet symbols, Crimean residents are in fact demanding Russian imperialism. They are sympathizing not with communist or leftist values, but with a myth about Soviet welfare.
To them Maidan is an image of the world, which they are not ready to accept. That is why they believe in such a monster as “banderovets” without any interest in who Bandera actually is.
Here you say “Glory to Ukraine” in the lowest voice possible. And “Glory to Heroes” is whispered in response. However, nobody shouts “Glory to Russia,” as well. They simply yell “Russia.” With no “glory.”
Crimea – is effective space of cognitive dissonance. To understand Crimea residents who come out to vote for joining Russia, restoration of the USSR, or autonomy, you have to live here.
Unfortunately Kiev ignored Crimea for many years, considering it perhaps “toothless” vacation add-on to Ukraine. Meanwhile, the “add-on” was accumulating anger towards those who were regularly ripping it off. In Crimea eyes, Russia was the only one who didn’t, and now it is considered to be the most loyal friend.
Therefore, “self-defense” here protects from “pro-Ukrainian activists,” “normal” people wear ribbons with Russian symbols, and organizers of anti-maidan movement are heroes.
Presence of Russian army throughout Crimea is nothing compared to the military action that is taking place among civilians.