as promised earlier, my report on yesterday rally in Yalta
March 13, 2014
by Ekaterina Sergatskova. Ukrainska pravda. Life.
Originally posted in Russian: http://life.pravda.com.ua/society/2014/03/14/157460/
“Please come to Yalta, and ask everybody else to come. It seems like things gonna get heated here” – Anton, Eiromaidan activist, told me this morning. And this evening, he called me to tell how he was chased by bikers. Tomorrow he takes his family and leaves Crimea. For better times.
Yalta, the key Ukrainian resort looks as usual: palm trees, mountains, sun.
But something in this picture is not right.
A handful of people wearing gray are loitering under the palm trees, Russian flag flies proudly in front of the mountains, and the sun shimmers on a polished to a shine bikes of the “Night Wolves. ”
There is a stage, built right in front of the Lenin monument, all decorated with slogans “for the people’s unity.” Women in traditional Russian costumes sing: “It’s better with Russia.” It was supposed to be a pro-Ukrainian rally today, but something went wrong. At the place where pro-Ukrainian activists were supposed to be instead appeared tough guys in sportswear and severe Russian bikers.
An old lady is telling me about how she was buying a ribbon in Ukrainian colors, and the seller asked her not to, because it was too risky. She bought that ribbon anyway. Old lady wearing gray hat and an old cloak. Smiling.
“I was born in the Russian Far East, my dad was a Belorussian, and my husband is Ukrainian”- she says. “I love Ukraine, God is with Ukraine, and God does not want war.” Still smiling with all of her teeth, as many of them, as she has left, she adds, as if speaking to herself: “Do not kill, do not lie! Ukraine is melodic, musical, talented …»
Half an hour later this lady would be knocked down by big guys with a Russian accent. She would repeat, smiling “Glory to Ukraine” and twirling her ribbon, and they would push her down to the ground.
The same guys, chanting “Fascism will not pass!”, will tramp down Ukrainian flag, butt pro-Ukrainian activists down from the fountain.
The same slogan is chanted by those, who came here to stand up “for peace.”
What fascism are they talking about?
“Yes, you! All of you, Bandera, get out of here back to your Ukraine!” – Standard reply of the women, who are joining this mess later. Men are less talkative: just close my camera with their hands and promise to “whack” me. One of them with no unnecessary warnings just punched me in the nose and tried to snatch my tablet. He failed: iPad was not mine; I borrowed it, and couldn’t so easily give away someone else’s property.
After that, my camera captured the same big men beating up some old man, and later, in some grotesquely polite way trying to seat him down, all beaten up and with a head injury, on a wicker chair of one of the summer cafes around.
Now, the rally is over. Some are still looking for their cameras taken away by whether “self-defense “, or bikers, some are still screaming discussing the geopolitical situation.
“We don’t want you here, understand?”- squealing a woman in fur coat and a wig. – “They stuffed you there on Maidan with drugs, and now you got here. How much do they pay you? ”
People with black-and-orange pro-Russian ribbons are walking along the waterfront. I automatically change my path to more secluded trail, franticly looking around, speaking quietly. At this time, Anton tries to escape from violent bikers. How does he feel, the indigenous Yalta resident, trying to get away from the foreigners who believe that the land belongs to them now?
Two days are left to the referendum.
I look at the Black sea just across the boardwalk. It doesn’t look gentle. Doesn’t look like Yalta’s Black sea.
Would it welcome any tourists this summer? Would it make anybody happy anymore? ..
We were attacked by men in masks with guns, they took our equipment
After today events, we, my journalist-friend Anastasiia Bereza and I, are absolutely convinced that there is no real authority in Crimea now, except for the press. Journalists serve as the police, army and bodyguards, and also sometimes function as lawyers and witnesses.
Alas, we were the only two people who came this morning to the military conscription office, where presumably is held abducted Alexey Gritsenko and two other avtomaidan activists, a few more people showed up later.
Later on, at my request, came guys from the local ATP channel, but they do not even dare to pull out their cameras and start recording anything! Ten minutes later, they left for Aksenov press conference, which was already packed with journalists.
Later, we were joined by several journalists coming straight from the Kiev-Simferopol train. Almost immediately some cheerful boys in masks with guns came out of the recruiting office and forcibly took our equipment. By the way, I fought back the best I could, literally defending my tablet with my teeth, and they didn’t manage to take it away. In whose hands is equipment of others now, is still unclear, but i don’t think they are giving it back.
Once again, Crimea needs more journalists.
Some surreal rally took place in Yalta, yesterday. Bikers piling up on top of old granny, in order to tear Ukrainian flag apart, and beating up some harmless grandpa.
I got punched in the nose myself. Was crying, but still filming. Thank you, Yalta, Crimea’s own Mother of Pearls.
Guys, who ask me, why I’m not regularly updating my reports. I do! It just takes time to translate them into English and upload to this blog. So if you read Russian, please read them on Pravda.com.ua. Here goes the one on Yalta: http://life.pravda.com.ua/society/2014/03/14/157460/
Ill try to translate and upload it here in couple of hours.
Last night Alexey Gritsenko together with two friends were kidnapped in Simferopol. They are probably held in the building of pre-enlistment office, 152 Kievskaya Street. I’m going there. Will be streaming live. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sergackovatv
March 9, 2014
This is the most amazing in-depth piece on Crimea I’ve read so far. Olga managed to snapshot the multiple layers of social, cultural and moral interactions of so different people of Crimea, explain their opinions, as well as capture the very essence of that atmosphere for those of you, who follow the events on your laptop or TV.
It’s my day 11 reporting from Crimea. By now I have completely lost touch with inland reality. Are there any new art shows? Movie premiers? Are people still walking down Kreschatik? What kind of music are they listening to in Kiev?
I’m living my life by counting phone calls from military bases, long car rides, short conversations with colleagues about whats, wheres, and whens.
When I hear sounds of music I used to like, it seems like it’s coming from some parallel universe. I do not communicate to most of my old friends, they are either scared to talk to me, or do not share my beliefs.
I’ve learned to instantly determine which of my phone conversations are being taped. But I’m not hiding anyway. I’m just a journalist, doing my job. Try to stop me now! I have simply accepted the idea that at any moment I might be crammed into a car, taken away, and severely beaten up. Now I feel no fear, but responsibility.
It’s so weird. It seemed like my country has finally come to its senses, but suddenly some schizophrenic maniac turns everything upside down, not giving a damn about people or international community. He thinks he can shut up or gag anybody. I wish I could tell him to his face, that no gag would shut up inner freedom, that no abuse, no blackmail, no bribe would stop people with dignity and responsibility for their actions.
Today I spoke with the commanding officers of Ukrainian battleships, I saw these men of steel core of dignity and self-respect with my own eyes. They are my role-models, but not some failed Napoleon, who is raping his own people.
p.s. I’ll post my big report on Bakhchysarai later today.