At Simferopol Rally: “You are Not Our Wives! We Have No Respect for You!”

[My 2nd Day in Crimea, occupied by Russian army]

by Ekaterina Sergatskova, Ukrainian Pravda. Life.
Photos by Sergii Morgunov
Originally published in Ukrainian: http://life.pravda.com.ua/society/2014/03/5/155762/
March 5, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, women of Simferopol held a “Women for Peace” rally in front of a Ukraine military base, blocked off by “Crimean self-defence forces.” They brought posters that spoke against armed conflict and reemphasized a need for peaceful resolution. “We raise our children to live in happiness and piece”, ” Crimea residents are grateful to Crimea Military for your courage “, ” Crimea  – territory of peace .”

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Photo: Sergii Morgunov

At the same time, several dozen of pro-Russian members of “self-defense” were also at the event. They were easy to identify by their Russian flags and black and orange stripes they wore in solidarity of their beliefs. For three days, this group has been blocking Ukrainian soldiers and scaring away pro-Ukrainian supporters.

Several of the “self-defence ”  guys run up at the women, pushed them,  tore their posters apart, yelled vulgar statements at the female protesters declaring that they’re “not real women”, “get out of here!” you “do not deserve respect.”

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Photo: Sergii Morgunov

While the local police arrived, but remained inactive, the pro-Russian “self-defence” group pushed the activists away from the military base and across the street.

Ukrainian soldiers are watching this from behind the fence. They have been barricaded by “self-defence”  for several days. While they are allowed to leave freely, their access back to the base is blocked. On the record, most “self-defence” says that the soldiers do not want to return themselves.  But truth is several soldiers had to jump over the fence to get back to the base.

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Photo: Sergii Morgunov

Both groups of protesters gathered on two sides of the same road, occasionally crossing over to speak. Traffic was still moving, as if nothing was happening – no roadway block, no traffic police present on site. The pro-Russian group slowly forced journalists away from the base, saying that they can’t film there. When asked “why?” the only response give was “because we said so.”

As the “Women for Peace” rally began to disperse one man, in a jogging suit in Russian colours forced himself in the middle of the group and tried to provoke an altercation, with no response from the crowd.

Despite being blockaded by pro-Russian supporters and unidentified military personnel, the military base still flies a Ukrainian flag.

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