Preamble: March 16 was the third anniversary of the reunification of Crimea with Russia. As the Ukraine continues to claim jurisdiction over the territory, and claims that the population has been forced into accepting Russian rule, we thought it would be instructive to see what was written about the Hero City of Sevastopol in 2009, by Mustafa Nayyem, one of the main proponents of Euromaidan, and now a People’s Deputy in the Supreme Rada in Kiev.
This is a very beautiful city, proud and genuine. There is little affectation here. Moreover—there’s an openness, that converts one from rudeness and bluntness into an admiring, sincere person.
By the will of fate, of politicians, and of history, it is now a Ukrainian city.
It’s a Ukrainian city, in which Ukrainians are called invaders.
It’s a Ukrainian city, where if your business card isn’t in Russian as well as in Ukrainian and English, you’ll get a smirk…and your card returned.
It’s a Ukrainian city, where people go to the cinema more readily when there’s a rough and clumsy Russian dubbing, on top of the already Ukrainian-dubbed film, added by local craftsmen. Because otherwise the little children wouldn’t understand.
It’s a Ukrainian city, in which the Ukrainian flag is called a “dirty rag” while the Russian tricolour is proudly flown in windows.
In this Ukrainian city one scarcely finds the Ukrainian coat of arms. It’s not even on the signs of many government institutions.
In this Ukrainian city, the employees of the Ukrainian Navy do not understand why they are paid between two and two and a half times less than the same sailors of the Russian naval forces.
In this Ukrainian city everyone prays for the Russian fleet. Because if it sails away, twenty thousand people will be left without work.
It’s a Ukrainian city, whose anthem glorifies it as the “pride of Russian sailors” and has not a word about Ukraine.
It’s a Ukrainian city, on the territory of which the Moscow government looks after Russian sailors by building them apartments year after year, while many Ukrainian servicemen have been waiting in line to receive their square meters since 1987(!).
In this Ukrainian city, the official representative of Kiev is called just “the latest nit”.
And it’s hard to believe that in this Ukrainian city you’d find even a hundred people who would take up arms if Russian tanks appeared, in order to proudly defend their right to be called Ukrainians.
But, you know what? Somewhere out there, far away in the truly Ukrainian city of Kiev, people are still convinced that this city is really Ukrainian. Drivel! This city is called Ukrainian only because on the map it falls within the geographical borders of the country. That’s all.
Because in this Ukrainian city, Victor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, and Viktor Yanukovich are plainly called “Malorussian invaders”. The first two—due to the obvious difference in views. The latter—due to unfulfilled hopes. And all three—for their deafness and silence.
And if, on January 17, many people won’t go to vote because “they’re all the same”, then in this Ukrainian city they won’t go because they don’t understand why they should choose the president of a foreign country.
In general, this city is a political orphan that was forcibly adopted by political bums who earn their meagre ratings on its desperate scream. True, these marginal bums either sincerely, or naively, believe that they have a home—Russia, whose mirage they shamelessly wave before the empty eyes of their voters on the eve of each election.
I don’t know everything that the Ukraine and the Ukrainian authorities are doing in order to change this situation. I don’t know even in this Ukrainian city. And honestly, it’s hardly worth considering.
Although, no, you can look for easy ways. You can go into history for a long time trying to understand who got mistaken and when. Deport hundreds of unwanted people and declare them personae non grata. Argue from the tribune that this city is Ukrainian and keep a huge staff of special services so that they can harass journalists and take photos and videos of live broadcasts.
It’s possible. Everything is possible. One can even turn a blind eye to the fact that this is a Ukrainian city that has never considered itself such.
But there is NO TIME for all this.
It’s necessary to give up everything and save forever the elusive territory! Don’t eradicate Russian, don’t hate others. But sacrifice ratings, reputation and health, so that this city itself begins to call itself, if not Ukrainian, at least not anti-Ukrainian.
With such a Ukraine, Ukrainian Kiev must reach an agreement. Conclude a social contract. In exchange for adopting the Ukraine, offer—not the Ukrainian flag, coat of arms, history and passport—but Ukrainian standards of quality of life. Moreover, offer it today and now, not sometime after joining the European Union, let alone NATO.
And finally, just for information.
Population of Abkhazia: 215,000 of whom the Russian population is slightly more than 10% (about 23 thousand) (2003 data)
Population of Ossetia: 72,000 of whom the Russian population is approx. 2.8% (approx. 2 thousand) (2008 data)
Population of Sevastopol: 377,153 of whom the Russian population is 71% (269,953). Ukrainian ‒ 20.6% (2001 data)
Total in Crimea, according to 2001 census – 2.031 million people. Of whom 65-70% describe themselves as Russian.