Crimea Today

By Slava Tsukerman

On Friday April 25, a border was installed between Ukraine and the Republic of Crimea. Russians all over the country are still celebrating annexation of Crimea. There was a medal released in honor of Putin’s personal impact on the “historical” return of Crimea to Russia. But what is going on now in Crimea?

Here is some information from Russian and Ukrainian sources.

Banking service on the peninsula is paralyzed. Most of the Ukrainian banks had left Crimea and most of Russian banks are not coming. Many of them do busines in the West and do not want to have problems.

People cannot access Ukrainian currency or Russian rubles, because there is no cash at ATMs. In the mornings customers gather near the doors of the still working banks hoping to withdraw funds. They spend hours in line just to receive coupons with the date when they can apply for a refund. The closest date is May 8. An old woman died in the line to Private Bank in the city of Jankoy in the morning April 25.

Only pensioners and state officials receive rubles.

The only bank where one can make official payments (taxes, fines, fees, utilities, etc.) is the Black Sea Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Until now only few people knew about the existence of this bank and it has hardly any branches. Every day there is a line of 300-400 people at its doors.

The North Crimea Canal used to deliver water to Crimea from the River Dnieper in Ukraine. The canal accounted for 80% of Crimea’s water. Now Ukrainian authorities closed the canal. The current water shortage is threatening 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres) of Crimea’s crops, which rely on irrigation. The complete collapse of the peninsula’s agriculture is expected.

The main basis of the Crimean economy was the summer resorts and hotels at the sea shore. Nobody is planning to come this summer. Shocked hotel owners receive no reservations.

The pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian propaganda reaches unprecedented proportions.

Everything culturely Ukrainian is completely banned, books literally tossed into the fire.

Crimea is overrun by Russian officials, who are brought from different regions, replacing the Crimean. For example, the workers of the Crimea prosecutor’s office who wanted to keep their job were forced to hand over Ukrainian passport and take Russian in place of them. After that they were fired for noncompliance.

The people who don’t want to change their citizenship are being persecuted. Here some excerpts from interviews published in Gazeta.ua.

Entrepreneur Yuri Belikov from Sevastopol:

“I had two holiday homes on the coast. Last week they were taken from me by four people. It’s hard to say who these people were. I think Russians. They came to my house in the evening. They asked who owns the hotels on the sea front. I said I do. They did not bother to look at my documents, they just said that from now on the hotels belong to them, and if I want to stay alive, I better move away from Sevastopol.”

Needless to say that new Crimean police wouldn’t even consider helping Yuri Belikov.

Andrei Sokolov, a businessman from Yalta:

“I’ve voted for the joining of the Crimea to Russia and now I’ve realized that I made a huge mistake. There are no words to describe what is happening now in the Crimea. This needs to be seen.

“I am a businessman and I own several cottages near the central beach. There is now complete chaos in Crimea: informational, legislative and food supply. We have only enough gasoline in the Crimea just for 2-3 days. There are not any tourists in Yalta. All hotels are empty and no one gives any forecast. I do not know how to survive; how to pay taxes and utility bills. Many entrepreneurs are on the verge of bankruptcy.”

But the people of Crimea in the worst situation are the Crimean Tatars.
Here are several conversations recorded in Crimea by a correspondent of UNAINFO.ORG:

A Russian doctor asks his Crimean Tatar colleague, with whom he worked for over 10 years: “They say that a place prepared for you in Russia, Magadan region (the place of the most terrible GULAG camps. V. Ts.). Will you go there or better return back to Uzbekistan?”

A Russian neighbor asks Crimean Tatar neighbor, with whom she used to drink coffee in the morning for twenty years: “When you are deported, we want to move into your home, it is bigger than ours and suits us better”.

Russian student makes a “friendly” suggestion to her Crimean Tatar classmate: “You Tatars are traitors, you are not reliable, you were against the referendum, and so Putin shall not forgive you. Better leave Crimea…”

These quotes sound really frightening. But their racist tone is very much in style in Crimea today. Here is a ‘joke’ made by the official acting Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, in his micro blog in Twitter, widely reposted by numerous Russian websites:

“There is a suggestion to annex the U.S. and join it to Russia. Obama should be placed into the Moscow Zoo. His place is among monkeys. The suggestion is accepted”.

I don’t think comments are needed.

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Updated: April 28, 2014 — 1:59 pm
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