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.

Crimea... I will miss you!

March 19, 2014
Crimean self-defense forces protect their vehicle during scuffles with Ukrainian servicemen on the territory of the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Crimea's self-defense forces on Wednesday stormed the Ukrainian navy headquarters in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, taking possession without resistance a day after Russia signed a treaty with local authorities to annex the region. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

Editor's note- This “Dispatches from Ukraine” blog entry comes from a freelance interpreter in Crimea who has decided to leave due to the turmoil there.

I am writing these lines on a train, “Simferopol-Lviv,” observing Crimean steppes that are gradually turning green and spring-like. During the last three and a half years, these places have become so dear to my heart.

Of course, I visited Simferopol before, but like most tourists “from the continent,” this city was mostly a transit one for me. And, of course, as a native born Western Ukrainian, I never planned to live there. But God had a different plan and it was wonderful. It was in this city that I learned I was pregnant with my son Mark, and this is a place where he made his first steps and pronounced his first words. Because of this, the Crimean land has become so special for me.

The events of recent weeks have not been very pleasant for me, but as I look back I will remember my Simferopol not because of green men with guns who suddenly appeared on it's streets, but primarily because of other, much nicer people whom I met there. I talked in Ukrainian, Russian, English and even in German and Polish (just a little bit). Language has never been a problem, and it seems to me I found a common ground with all of you pretty well. After all, the language of human heart and soul sounds the same for everyone and everywhere.

What will I miss in particular? Here are some of the things that come to my mind right away:

- Botanical garden, especially rosary and a small pine forest where we enjoyed walking at any time of year

- Russian drama theatre, where I watched so many great performances

- Conversational clubs, where I met a lot of interesting people and wonderful friends

- My work that gave me the opportunity to develop professionally

- My church congregation that has really become my second family

I will also miss shurpa (rich soup of lamb with vegetables and spices), laghman, my morning walks along the Sthealgir River, and even bumpy roads of the Old City where the wheels of my son's carriages broke down.:-)

I am so grateful to all my friends and acquaintances who made our stay in Crimea so enjoyable. And I want to wish all of you to have peace – outside on your streets and inside your precious hearts.

I really hope that “hot spots” in Crimea will be found only in summer on the beaches under the sun. I am not saying goodbye, and I promise to return - at least in my memories.



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About the author

Olya Tymchak is a 32-year-old freelance interpreter from Western Ukraine, who has been living and working in Simferopol, Crimea for 3-5 years. She has decided to flee Eastern Ukraine due to the crisis there.