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.


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