Dispatches from Ukraine

Blogs Dispatches from Ukraine

O-R correspondents share the latest news from within Ukraine.

Journalist Olga Shestopalova writes about cultural affairs for TV Plus, the Observer-Reporter's partner newspaper in Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine. She visited the Washington area several years ago as part of our newspapers' exchange program. She also works as a fashion model, and splits her time between Slovyansk and Kiev, the Ukrainian capitol. Ismayil Khayredinov was born in Uzbekistan in 1985, and raised in Crimea after his family returned to their ancestral land at the verge of USSR collapse. At the age of 14, he attended a boarding school for gifted children near Bahçesaray, operated by a Turkish company in partnership with Crimea's education ministry. In Ismayil 2001-2002 academic year, he took part in a one year high school exchange sponsored by the US Freedom Support Act, operated by American Councils. In 2004, he took part in the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program, and interned in the office of Hon. Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Ismayil graduated from Taurida National Vernadsky University in Simferopol with a degree in economics. During his student years and early careeer, Ismayil was involved with many international projects with a diverse range of interests, including agriculture, shipbuilding, exports, education and marketing. Notably, Ismayil took part in a Ukraine Media Partnership Program, where he has become friends with the Observer-Reporter staff. For the last 5+ years, Ismayil has been living in Prague, where he first directed an International Youth Leadership Conference, and is currently building his business in web development.

Crimeans give their thoughts on the crisis in Ukraine

March 14, 2014
Crimean Tatar women protest against the country's breakup outside Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, March 14, 2014. Crimea will hold on Sunday a referendum that will ask residents if they want the territory to become part of Russia. Banner reads "No unlawful referendum". (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Despite repeated media reports that the majority of people living in Crimea support the accession of Crimea to Russia, there are people on the peninsula who can’t even think of it since it provokes bewilderment and pain. A reporter for a Crimean media outlet spoke with three women-residents of Crimea, who are utterly opposed to the events occurring on the peninsula.

“I think what is happening now is called infinite lawlessness. Independent journalism simply cannot exist in such conditions. Our company has a license for radio broadcasting, however, in the present anarchy in Crimea this license may be withdrawn or annulled at any time. All Ukrainian TV channels are switched off in Crimea. Our sales revenue is in jeopardy. The clients almost stopped buying ads and commercials in the local media. They are waiting and observing. And if the summer holiday season doesn’t start, there will be zero income at all. And I am responsible not only for my business, but also for the people who work for me. And I don’t know how to behave in this situation. In all likelihood, I will have to negotiate with the new government to retain my business and jobs. If we manage to sell the business, which I doubt, then there is an option to go to Ukraine and start all over from scratch. But I fear that if the hostilities begin here, we’ll have to just run away and give up everything, created in so many years, to invaders. I love my city and my country Ukraine. And I do not understand why because of the whims of one Kremlin tyrant I have to abandon my house and leave my hometown…”

- Marina , 40-year-old, owner of the media business in one of the cities of the Crimea

“I’m only 23 years old, life hasn’t beaten me much but I clearly know the meaning of ‘hate’. I hate local authorities, hate Russia’s politics, I hate Putin, Aksenov and imaginary “Cossacks”. I hate those who “leaked” the Crimea, I hate those who deprive me of my homeland and make me parting with family and friends! I hate everyone who thinks that being a patriot of Ukraine - is fascism. I love my country and at the same time I hate it for all the pain it causes me! I hate convoys of military equipment in the quiet streets of the seaside hometown! I hate lying creatures in the executive committee that disguise under any power, zombie citizens and corrupt municipal journalists! I hate that I have ceased to smile and enjoy the beginning of spring, as it was before. This hatred poisons. Unbearable revolution in my heart.”

- Eugenia , 23, Crimean journalist

“Last year I was threatened to be killed twice. The first time it was the Russian neo-Nazis, when I published an article in the media about their illegal activities on the territory of Crimea. The second time, it was the people of Yanukovych, who tried to intimidate me when I printed leaflets about dictatorial laws from January 16. I believe that people in Crimea have been actively prepared for the transition under Russian protectorate for several years. Lately a lot of money was invested in various non-governmental organizations, which openly advocated for Russian nationalism. This so-called “Cossacks” and pro-Putin Surgeon bikers and various monarchists. Some pro-Russian websites appeared which were hostile towards the Crimean Tatars. Now these sites sow ethnic strife between the Russians and Ukrainians. I don’t know why the Kremlin needs this. But it hurts me to look as my Crimea and Ukraine are trampled by a crowd of Russian soldiers who were not invited here. And I do not understand why people who live in Crimea so sincerely and strongly hate their country. I could never understand this. Now my friends and I are scared to go out, speak Ukrainian and carry the flag of my country. This happened due to the hatred of Ukraine and everything Ukrainian artificially implanted around here stronger and stronger every day. Two activists of the Crimean Maidan have been kidnapped by Aksenov’s militants (Aksenov – illegitimate Prime-Minister of Crimea appointed by the Crimean Parliament on Feb.28, 2014). Human rights defenders and activists of Euromaidan have two choices: either to leave for the mainland or go underground. I chose the second option. I’m not going to leave my city in the lurch. Even if it is risky, but I will do everything in my power that my city and my family live in Ukrainian Crimea.”

- Julia , 35, a human rights activist



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About the author

Svitlana Zholobaylo works in Kiev, Ukraine for the International Research and Exchange Board and arranges partnerships between U.S. and Ukrainian media.