The events in Ukraine do not leave the pages of the world media. November 2013 people came out for signing an association agreement with the European Union, the protest lasted until February 22, 2014. After the flight of President Yanukovych, the Crimea “hit”: heterogeneous, cosmopolitan, rich in history and culture, an excitement began on the peninsula. February 26, 2014 in Simferopol there was gathered several thousand action – supporters of pro-European choice and its opponents. The next day the bodies of authority of the peninsula had been captured by the so-called “green men” – the unmarked Russian army and then actually started the occupation and later annexation of the Crimea. In the spring of 2014 started fighting in the Donbas. Still do not cease fighting in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, in spite of the peace agreement.
Thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees, whose lives have been forever gutting by brutal Russian aggression. And although in the Crimea was never realized bloody scenario of the capture – the annexation took place quite peacefully through pseudo-referendum, the “new” government made the lives of many Crimean people, who did not agree with occupation and annexation, unbearable. They are forced to leave home or to cave in under the new rules. How do the Crimeans live today?
“The Crimea is dead. It is impossible to live there now”
Anna Ivantsyk is from family of Greek Catholic priest. She was born in Lviv, but her childhood and youth were held in Odesa, where she graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of the National University. After graduation, Anna returned to Lviv, got married, gave birth to a son, and then there were problems with health. Doctors advised to go to the Crimea. The young family moved to Yevpatoria, where Anna and her husband bought a two-bedroom apartment, began to settle.
– My husband has golden hands, he can do everything – and repair and design furniture. We were comfortably off, have accumulated a decent amount of money in the bank for repairs, – says Anna about the Crimean life.
Photo from Anna Ivantsyk personal archive – Maidan in Yevpatoria
When the Maidan started in Kyiv, Anna Ivantsyk became active in organizing the Maidan in already native Yevpatoria – came out with protests on the main square of the city, along with her year-old son, held flash mobs. When Yanukovych fled, joy knew no bounds. But not for long – in the Crimea rushed on tanks of “Russian Spring”:
– At first I did not believe that it actually happens. Then I started to help our military units – took food for our guys, who were blocked by the Russians, supported them as best I could.
After the referendum on March 16, stayed in Yevpatoria for short time – just over a month, the Crimea has become strange, to stay there was not safe:
– It’s dead! There’s nothing good will be, only Russian troops, no tourists will come. It is impossible to live there, – says Anna.
She was not in her Crimean home for almost two years. Once gone, Anna was phoned by representatives of the Russian Intelligence Services, was invited to speak. With what ended such talks for Ukrainian activists from the Crimea Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, everyone knows: the huge prison sentences in Russia.
Husband of Anna traveled to the peninsula only once – if you do not appear, the apartment can be confiscated by the “new” government. The money, kept in a bank on the peninsula, was not returned to the young family, but Anna did not lose heart – she believes that very soon the Crimea again will be Ukrainian and native. Now Anna is actively helping the army, she is a volunteer, holds first aid courses for men on Yavoriv landfill, is involved in the social movement “Autonomous resistance”, got a medal of honor and patriotism and is waiting the release of their Crimea.
Scrapbook photo of Anna Ivantsyk
“My ancestors survived deportation. I am not afraid of anything!”
Zodie Salieva has an extraordinary destiny – her mother was deported from the Crimea in the distant 1944, when a totalitarian Stalinist regime declared the Crimean Tatars traitors during World War II. Then the whole family moved to Uzbekistan. They were carried in cattle cars. There began malaria. There were specially distributed matchboxes with typhoid lice. My grandmother died of typhus. She was only 44. Zodie’s grandfather was taken in 1937 as an “enemy of the people”. Mother deliberately put on age, and at the age of 14 trained as a weaver, immediately went to work. Father of Zodie was hijacked in 1943 in Austria. When the Soviet army “liberated”, they walk through Romania back home, to the Crimea they were not allowed, immediately they were sent to Tashkent. Then her father found out that his family is in Samarkand, found the sisters there and there met Zodie’s mother. Local people perceived displaced negatively – they were set up that they are “traitors and cannibals”. But then there were abuse and rape. Killed a lot – half of the deported, many families are not left at all.
– I, it turns out, am the enemy of the people’s granddaughter, the daughter of a traitor, and now they call me an extremist and terrorist! Now in the Crimea there is a lot of harassment. Haunted by dissent. I cannot put up with this power. I begin to speak, and people ask me: “Are you not afraid?” I have not left the Crimea and do not intend to. My ancestors survived the deportation. I am not afraid of anything!
Crimean Tatars gathered at the Congress in Kherson region – in the Crimea is now safe.
Zodie Salieva arrived to the Crimea in 90 years; she failed to settle in the coastal village, where her family lived before the deportation. The Crimean Tatars who back home since the Soviet era haven’t been settled compact – so it was not crowded, the land was given only in the steppe zone of Crimea, on the north. In 1987 Zodie traveled to Moscow to protest, demanding that the Crimean Tatars were allowed to return home. But the insidious story prepared for brave Crimean woman new tests:
– Now in the Crimea people are negatively disposed towards the current Russian government, condemn it. But there are certainly those, who are adapted. We have even clashes. People are dissatisfied with the fact that prices rose, Russian unpleasant obsession, schools only in Russian language, textbooks are still of Soviet times. There is no light, blackouts constantly. There is no water. But we will survive!
“We are waiting for the Crimea will again become Ukrainian – I want to go home, meet friends, and take a breath of sea air”
Volodymyr Chekrygin left Sevastopol in the autumn of 2014, after being detained together with friends at night when they drew anti-Putin pictures on the asphalt. After sitting in jail a few hours, an activist realized that urgently needs to leave his hometown, because they will not leave him alone. He went to Ivano-Frankivsk, because there was a place to stay, at least at first. Now he has been monitoring the situation of human rights in the occupied peninsula and wants to return home, to the Ukrainian Crimea, to meet up with friends and take a breath of sea air.
– When started Euromaidan, people in Sevastopol also went to. The tents we, of course, could not put – they would be demolished at once, but, nevertheless, every weekend we were going. In the first action came two, and then went out 50-100 people. For Sevastopol it is a lot, given that to our actions always come out three times as many members of the “Russian bloc”, which were very aggressive behaved. The police behaved neutrally – they did not know who will win, so did not take either one or the other side. In February, we picketed the house at that time the head of the Sevastopol administration, the police came to detain us; in the future, this man became head of the Sevastopol police – recalls Volodymyr.
Scrapbook photo of Volodymyr Chekrygin – in Ukrainian Crimea
When, to the Crimea came “green men” from Russia, it was a lack of understanding of what is happening – events unfolded very quickly:
– Our units were blocked and we were engaged in the transfer of products, to provide at least some assistance, to have become a human shield. I had confidence that “green men” would not shoot. But they quickly find – in addition to the “green men” near the military units were crowds of “Cossacks”, locals. For the “green men” there was not necessary to do something. When the annexation took place, the guys went out with flags, making action on Independence Day, it was very hard mentally to endure all. I once wore the ribbon of yellow and blue, it was terrible, went to the bus, turned back to the cabin, and people were afraid of me, they thought I was from the “Right Sector”. And when a woman came out, then she patted me on the shoulder in support. Now we live only with hope that the Crimea will be Ukrainian, and I can go home.
In the Crimea, Volodymyr Chekrygin left flat, family, friends, and a heart that still beats in unison with the sea waves.
“The authorities are blackmailing me with missing son”
Larisa Shaimardanova lives in the village of Small Spit, Arabat Spit, behind which – occupied Crimea. She is Tatar, a native of Tatarstan, Russia, but a fanatical opponent of the current Russian government and actively participates in the blockade of the peninsula by Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists, which began in the autumn of 2015.
May 26, 2014, her son, who lived on the peninsula, went missing in the Crimea and still his fate is unknown. During the annexation were lost tens of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in the Crimea, some found dead with signs of torture, a number of people are sitting in the dock, the fate of many missing people is unknown. According to Larisa, the occupation authorities are afraid, so intimidate and kill.
– I am being blackmailed by Alexander Ponomarev, the head of village Strelkovoe. He has pro-Russian views, when I oppose his decisions he is blackmailing me, “If you behave quietly, I’ll tell you what happened to your son, I have some information”. This is a sore subject for me, I do not know what to do, where to go, – complains Larisa, saying that the lawyers from Ukrainian Helsinki Group engaged in this issue, filed with the European Court of Human Rights, but so far there is no response.
Blockade Tent – occupied Crimea is near
Strelkovoe village, according to Larisa Shaimardanova, share in views: there are those, who support Ukraine and the blockade of Crimea, there are people with pro-Russian views. Once the town belonged to the Crimea Dzhankoy region, was inhabited by the Crimean Tatars, and centenarians still have bilingual metric – in Russian and Crimean Tatar language:
– When Russians came, many villagers thought that it had to move to Russia. March 16, 2014 Russian troops arrived here by helicopters. There were many who want to join. Alexander Ponomarev and I went to see, when we found out that Russians came into our village. We arrived at the end of the village, and here we on the roof of the car got helicopter, we could not move. We began to move off, go to the track. There are growing olives. Above them there were circling two transport and two combat helicopters. Transport sat down, two combat circled over them and in olives were so many guys in balaclava with guns peeping. I counted about 38 people. They came to pick up the gas field on Arabat Spit, mistakenly landed at the other end of the village. They stayed there until December 11-13, 2014. In the Crimea now there is much military equipment.
Larisa Shaimardanova bitterly notes that the population of Strelkovoe is brainwashed – all have satellite antennas, people watch Russian channels, argue and to prove them something is useless. The woman explains that many living on the shore of the Azov Sea, connected with Russians – they came to rest, there were business, never were any conflicts. Everything changed in 2014. In the last year no one of Russians came to rest here – acting propaganda and political crisis.
There are thousands of such stories. Hundreds of Crimean sailors, soldiers, cadets moved to the mainland, as Crimeans called the rest of Ukraine. Now, many defend our borders in the East of the country, taking part in hostilities. Some simply ran away from the Crimean peninsula, as the level and quality of life have deteriorated considerably. Recent events have turned and broke many lives, forever changed the history.