Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
The Russian dream of pro-Putin Crimeans is being shattered by harsh reality.
Earlier this week, two thirds of the peninsula were left without electricity. Who is to blame is still unclear, but the supply of electricity from the mainland has been substantially reduced. Officials warn that soon the separatists will receive significantly higher electricity bills.
The promises to pensioners also turned out to be a myth. Their pensions were never doubled, but simply converted into rubles, reports TSN.
Pricing chaos. Empty banks and ATMs. Lines for several days at a time. These are the first results of “improvement,” Crimean-style. All the joys of civilization, which were obvious before, do not work. The lights can be turned off at any time. In one’s passport, an address that doesn’t exist. Salary cards are a bare piece of plastic. Lines for pay, are just like in old Soviet films. For Crimeans, these old films have become a reality.
Olga Kunina does not hesitate to call Yevpatoria her home town, even though she had been living in the Ukrainian capital [Kyiv] for ten years now. She also insists that she will speak Ukrainian on camera.
“I want to keep my Ukrainian passport, I want to be proud of being a Ukrainian, I don’t want to be forced to become a Russian because of the situation they are trying to put me in,” she says.
Olga’s compatriots – ethnic Russians – dreamed of getting rich immediately after the so-called referendum. They wanted to sell out their citizenship for increased pensions. But the only increase has been in their disappointment.
“We got exactly the same [pensions – Ed.], only in Russian rubles,” – explain the retirees. And in coins Russia is withdrawing from circulation. The rubles started causing chaos on the markets and in prices.
“We have not re-written our price tags yet. A line [indicates the price in] Russian rubles, and above it – ours. Hryvnias.” – says a saleswoman.
Now you can only receive money at the post office and have to stand in long lines to do that, not as freely as in ATMs or bank branches. Those who get lucky get their money. Tetyana Fedorivna won back her rubles. But bad luck struck again. Now she says she needs to transfer them back into hryvnas to pay the bills for her apartment, losing her pension on the exchange rate.
Retirees are not the only ones to have faced unpleasant surprises. A real blow to the pocket is waiting for young mothers of the peninsula. The Ukrainian state, even during the crisis, supported each and every one of them with over 40,000 hryvnyas. Meanwhile, a pregnant woman with a Russian passport receives less than 1,500 hryvnyas. And that only if she worked for at least 5 months before her maternity leave. For unemployed people in Russia, having children is risky in general: the government will not pay them anything. For workers with a work history of over 6 months, the amount of child benefits depends entirely on the amount of their salary. By Ukrainian law, an employer must keep a workplace for three years. In Russia – for less than three months.
In Russia, there are two types of maternity leave: a short one – 84 days, and a very short one – 70 days. This news has already spread through the local media.
Meanwhile, resentful Russians from mainland Russia are swarming the social networks. They openly consider their new Crimean compatriots as freeloaders.
“You, Crimeans, behave like prostitutes!!! Here in Russia, we also have plenty of retirees and invalids, and our own problems. What have you done for Russia? Or have you just waved some flags, drunk vodka at some concerts, and we will now fill your pockets with money?”
In an online forum, Crimeans are scratching their heads over how to get Shengen visas. The EU has already warned: Crimea is Ukraine and they will only issue visas on the basis of Ukrainian passports.
However, no one now asks the locals on the peninsula whether or not they want to be Russian, says Olga. She is officially registered as living in Crimea. But now she says she feels homeless and without any rights.
“I heard a categorical statement by Russia that those Crimeans who have Crimean residence must now go and fill in a relevant application, stating that they do not wish to become Russian citizens. Or it [becoming a Russian citizen] will happen automatically, and what should people like me do who do not wish to have a Russian or dual citizenship?” – she says.
Lawyers are advising citizens not to give up their Ukrainian passports or citizenship. “The only document today that allows us to say that you are who you are is the Ukrainian passport. There you have the full name and the surname in Russian and in Ukrainian. In case of refusal of this document, you lose this link,” – says a lawyer.
According to lawyers, the peninsula is in a state of legal collapse, which will not end until the final status of Crimea is solved in international courts. These cases can go on for years.
However, a de facto separation from Russia will not be simple. There [in Russia], local referenda are prohibited. So are rallies against the government. As is even just thinking differently.