Ukraine: A View From Crimea

Global Voices Online
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Last week, Ukraine banned Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov from the country, after he called for Russia to take ownership of Sevastopol, a Ukrainian Black Sea naval port. The incident received much coverage in the Russian and Ukrainian media and blogs; some bloggers' reactions can be found in an earlier GV translation.

Below is one more post on the issue, written by a Russophone resident of Balaklava, a Crimean town that has an official status of a district of the city of Sevastopol. Reacting to the statements made by Russian writer Aleksandr Prokhanov in defense of Luzhkov's stance on the status of Sevastopol, LJ user mix_hawk wrote this (RUS) in the ru_politics LJ community:


[Prokhanov] started telling [on RTVi Channel] about how the Russophobic attitudes are encouraged in Sevastopol, how films in Russian have been banned from screening, how forced Ukrainization is taking place, etc. And then he expressed his support for [Luzhkov] - like, enough, we've had enough, Crimea issues have to be dealt with in a harsh, tough way, because we've got important geopolitical interests there.

So here goes.

I live in Balaklava now and visit Sevastopol often. I see Russian flags on every third building there, billboards and flyers are in Russian, ribbons with the colors of the Russian flags on the cars and people's handbags. And no one is beating up these people or smashing their car windows, no one is tearing down flyers and billboards. We communicate in Russian freely and no one is hissing at us, the way it used to happen in Estonia in 1990 or in Moldova in 1993. Russophobe moods, where are you? Hello?

Regarding films - yes, there is such a thing, all screenings have to be translated into Ukrainian. But it's not specified in the decree in what form they should be translated, and the majority of Russian films are shown in Russian with subtitles. Just today I've watched [Battalions Ask for Fire] in the language of the original, only at the bottom there was a Ukrainian translation in small letters - could be a way to learn the language, by the way )))

I also don't understand in what way forced Ukrainization is carried out. Is it about official documents that have to be submitted in the state language? But do they now allow to submit documents in Azeri or Tajik in Moscow? Yes, it's the territory of Ukraine, and the state language here is Ukrainian [...].

According to international treaties, Russia has recognized Ukraine's territorial integrity within current borders. Whether it's right or wrong is a different issue. I personally believe that Sevastopol is a truly Russian city, but what's done is done. What's needed now in order to change the situation aren't the rude statements by Putin on Ukraine and by Luzhkov on Crimea, but serious diplomacy work, a search for mutually convenient compromises - this is the only way for the governments of the two countries to reach a consensus. And what Luzhkov has achieved now is pushing the chance to solve the issue diplomatically a few years back, if not more.


Here is one of the comments (RUS) to this post, by LJ user ervix:

In general, your position is correct, and I guess I agree with it. There is one "but" here, though. [Luzhkov] was speaking about Sevastopol not for the residents of Sevastopol, but for the Russian voters.

Ukrainian politicians react to Russia's domestic political PR games, and their reactions result in additional tension in the relationship [...].

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