- Posted March 29, 2014 by
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Realities of "Russian Spring" in Crimea
From the perspective of people in Ukraine, MaiaKiev told us, "We feel sorry for people who have been deceived into betraying their own country, Ukraine. The sobering is already taking place. I believe people will be ashamed that they have voted to break off from Ukraine just because they believed they will be getting higher salaries and pensions. We also feel very concerned about the people who didn't vote for breaking away from Ukraine. They are under a lot of pressure from authorities and also from their former friends who are now pro-Russian."
- Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer
“Russian Spring” was the name of operation that Putin has implemented in Crimea this month. The operation included “unknown green men”, dressed in Russian uniforms and armed with latest Russian guns taking over Ukrainian military bases; appointment under the guns of the new prime minister of Crimea (Aksenov, a man with criminal past); massive informational attack with Russian propaganda pouring from TV screens on citizens of Crimea while all Ukrainian TV stations were shut down, and of course, the referendum that the civilised world didn’t recognise as legitimate. The result of that operation was annexation of Crimea, with Russia pronouncing it their territory.
Pro-Russian Crimeans celebrated this great “victory” with fireworks and dancing on the streets. A 75-year-old woman with tears of happiness in her eyes is telling on the camera, “My dream was to die in Russia. Now my dream will come true!” She might not realize the irony of her statement.
So it’s been two weeks of “Russian Spring” in Crimea, two weeks of Ukrainian territory under the occupation of Russian troops. There are some obvious indications that “Russian Spring” is turning into a time of broken hopes and illusions.
The world continues to not recognise Crimea as Russian territory. On March 27th the General Assembly of United Nations discussed the situation in Ukraine. 100 countries voted for territorial integrity of Ukraine, only 10 countries supported Russian annexation of Crimea. The list of these 10 countries screams of Russia’s growing isolation from civilised world! The company Russia finds itself in – North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Belarus, Armenia and Syria. As a good Russian proverb goes, “tell me who your friend is and I will tell you who are you!”
The world’s opinion about Russia’s hooligan actions in Crimea affects not only the reputation and economy of that country. It’s having direct impact on Crimea as well. Can anybody imagine foreign investments going into development of Crimea? How safe would a foreign business feel in this area with a status that is in violation of international law? European Embassies already announced that they would not give visas to Russian citizens with Crimean registration.
This past week people in Crimea had a chance to experience the reality of Crimea’s dependence on Ukraine for electricity. A few days in a row some regions of Crimea had electrical blackouts. In my friends' home there was no electricity for four hours at a time. If Ukraine chooses to shut down supply of electricity peninsula will be a very dark place, for 80% of energy comes from Ukraine. Let’s not forget the supply of fresh water that also comes for the most part from Ukraine. It will take Russian about 2 years to build the infrastructure for Crimea to break their dependence on Ukraine.
Among the most enthusiastic supporters of Crimea becoming Russian were retired people who had bought into a lie they heard from Russian TV channels and from the lips of Russian Parliament members – the lie that their retirements will be doubled or tripled when Crimea joins Russia. Well, they got their retirements last week and they were exactly the same amount that they always got, only in rubbles! How disappointing – to sell out your own country for an increase in income that actually never going to happen!
These past two weeks have been sobering for many people as the whole system of jurisprudence have collapsed. People in Crimea all over sudden found themselves free of their possessions. Whatever documents they have to prove their ownership of houses or businesses are void now – they mean nothing in Russia! Current Crimean government “encourages” people to get Russian citizenship and then they could restore their ownership. Meanwhile “Russian Spring” turns into the biggest case of robbery!
Who benefits the most from the current situation in Crimea are criminals of sorts, especially prime minister Aksenov and the head of Crimean parliament Konstantinov who personally owe millions to Ukrainian banks and now consider themselves free of those debts.
Times of crisis often bring the worst and the best in people. Here is another interesting fact of today's reality in Crimea. After Russian troops occupied peninsula some priests of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate rushed to confiscate the buildings and property of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate, very much like ordinary looters, I would say! But get this! Crimean tatars who are Muslim have offered their mosques for Christians to use for their worship services if they lost their church building to Moscow Patriarchate! Muslims are reaching out to help, while Christian "brothers" take advantage of political situation to steal your property!
It’s been interesting to observe how many people “rushed” to get Russian citizenship during these past two weeks. According to results of referendum 82% participated and 97% voted for Crimea to become Russia. So about 1.8 million people who should be eager to obtain Russian passports, right? Why is it then only 20,000 applied for Russian citizenship? Russian propaganda hurries to justify those low numbers with long lines of eager people. But there are 27 regions within Crimea, with 60+ cities and villages in each region. If we keep doing the math we will see that only 12 people on average in each village or city have applied. Maybe this is a better indication of how many people really voted in referendum?
Crimea is a region that survives on a tourism. It’s already clear that “Russian Spring” is going to bring a dead tourist season. How lucky for Sochi, Crimea’s biggest competitor for tourists! In the end of “Russian Summer” in Crimea when the revenues for season are calculated people will completely wake up.
Of course, our hope is that Crimea will not stay under Russian occupation that long! After all majority of people in Crimea didn’t really vote for this insanity and don’t want Crimea to be Russian.