Crimea. The Virus Has Been Avctivated.

[My Day 3 in Crimea, occupied by Russian army]

by Ekaterina Sergatskova, Ukrainian Pravda. Life.
Originally published in Russian:
March 5, 2014

A pale pink fortress, used as a terrace of one soviet café.

My friend is trying to take a picture of hiding “green dudes” also known in the streets as “polite armed men.” Those are the same guys in Russian uniforms with guns, which all of a sudden appeared in Crimea on February 28th.

A young female is approaching by asking “Why are you taking pictures of them? Are you at a zoo?!” My voice is breaking, trembling but I’m asking her: “Are you nervous?” – “Yes, I am nervous!” – she replies. “Why? Do you know those guys?” She is saying “no” and at the same time is taking her cellphone out of her purse to take a picture of us. A lot of people here do this now.

“Why are you defending them?” – I’m curious. “They are protecting me, and I’m protecting them!” she replies while running away to a nearby bank.

My friends and I look at each other, confused: “What did just happen?”

Perhaps it’s an overdue reaction to the fact the people were tirelessly taking pictures with “berkut” in the background on Bankova St in Kiev? Perhaps that woman thought that made them feel low…


Photo: Sergii Morgunov

Sergey today arrived to Crimea for the first time. His head is exploding. He is saying he saw one guy with a Ukrainian flag amongst Crimean “self-defense.” Yet he was told that was a crack on “pro-Ukrainian” activists.

Every time two camps meet, it turns into a scandal urging to turn into a fight. Everyone who is on the “Ukrainian” side, according to others’ opinion are “western Ukrainians,” “banderovtzi” and “maidan loonies.” They were paid to be present on Maidan, and now they came here to make some money by shuddering Crimea’s peaceful land. The replies such as “but I’m local” – not taken into consideration. Everyone who thinks contrary to “georgiy ribbons” (pro-Russian activist who wear orange-and-black ribbons to identify themselves) are traitors. And that is exactly what they say: “you are traitors. Get out of here.”

Crimean residents don’t seem to have a unified position in relation to what is going on. Some have a standpoint that changes every five minutes, depends on whom they are talking to.


Photo: Sergii Morgunov

The majority is assured that Yanukovych has stolen so much as no other leader of Ukraine has. However, at the same time they acknowledge his legitimacy as a president and put the fault on “Yatz” (Yatzeniuk, interim Prime Minister) that he and some other “radical fascists” unlawfully have highjacked the power. They agree that the government of Crimea was also dismantled unlawfully. Thus “since you showed us that example, now you deal with it.”

One man at the protest in Yalta entered a discussion with the activists. To a question whether Crimea should remain a part of Ukraine, replied: “What did you say? In that PROJECT?”

He obviously does not consider Ukraine to be a country.


Photo: Sergii Morgunov

The discussions have become so heated, and the intellectual level of arguments is so low that it is simply impossible to figure out what the Crimean residents want. It’s a “mix of different crops with poured over syrup or smelly water from a vase.”

Is all-Crimean referendum capable to put everything in its own place?

Can the new government guarantee its legitimacy?


“Russia! Come to Crimea” Photo: Sergii Morgunov

I read the comments from the readers and some of them consider the reports such as mine lead the country to a breakdown. I thought – how did all this mess start? Did it start with the change of government and activation of pro-putin’s “Russian unity” by Aksenov? Or with the first “Molotov cocktail” thrown into “berkut?”

Crimean residents do not accept radical rhetoric. They are used to serenity and good aspirations. Some of them are still assured that a tourist season will come soon and everything will return in its place.

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Photo: Sergii Morgunov

It is obvious there’s a phase of serious illness here. A virus, that had been sleeping in the body of Crimea for a long time, has been activated now.

Curing symptoms won’t help. There is a need for a complex surgery and long period of rehabilitation.

In order to understand how to cure this illness, there is a need to calm down and “unravel this bizarre and terrible tangle.”


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