Oleksiy. After the annexation of Crimea: ‘I won’t sing to these people…’
Dignity is as important as air for Oleksiy. He consciously chose the country where he can hope, dream and be with his family despite the war.
We continue to publish the stories of people, who lost their homes as a result of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as of those, who lent a helping hand in difficult times.
#I and Svitlana [the wife of Oleksiy. You can read the story of Svitlana here) came to Crimea from the conflict-torn regions. I left Moldova on the eve of the conflict with Transnistria. It banged the next day. But it was already very disturbing when people with arms, in uniform but without shoulder straps walked in Chisinau.
I lived in Crimea since 1992, after I had returned from the army. I repaired the household appliances and sang in the group. There was such a legendary band in the early 1990s in Crimea called “Scary Tales”. I was invited to the revived group, we played its repertoire, my songs, songs of a bass player. When the Crimean events started, I said, “Guys, #I won’t sing songs to these people.”
Today I have been walking along the Instytutska Street and Hrushevsky Street. Somewhere it was written, “Dignity stays for long“. Dignity, self-esteem and consciousness are completely alien to the Crimean society. These features stay at zero level. #Crimea has extremely apathetic political society, the only organized force there is represented by the Crimean Tatars. If Crimea had not been seized by the Russian troops, the outcasts would have been outraged, someone would have been jailed, someone would have left, but the majority would have been okay with everything.
Yesterday my friend businessman called me from Simferopol and said, “If I were 30-35 years old, I would have left, but I have two houses. #It seems that there are two millions of us now, and they want just one to survive. It seems that they want to have just a military base with nuclear weapons surrounded with barbed wire here and no other resorts or bridges are expected.” Sit quietly, and no one will bother you – now everybody is sitting in the kitchen.
Crimea was seized on February 26. I did not sleep for three days. I believe I am such a person who can anticipate events, but I definitely could not foresee the military seizure of Crimea. #On March 2-3, I clearly realized that I lived under occupation. I remember the Soviet Union, but the present-day Russia has become much worse than the Soviet Union. The latter was at the very least attractive for the masses as all were equal, there were no palaces, nobody was cooler, you could console yourself with that.
I obviously agree to fall of living standards, lowering national currency and other things, including the possibility of full-scale war, to have these glimpses of consciousness and dignity here. #Here the vector is being selected, here we have hope, but there we haven’t it. You can easily think about your place at cemetery, knowing that no things you have wanted and dreamt about will come true. Russia is definitely not the country where the dreams come true.
#For me, the ability to respect myself and others is something that is felt in the Ukrainian society today. I can feel it in the dialogue with the police officials, it has changed. I can quite easily go to the police, ask for direction or ask a question. I do not feel separation: the police are here and we are here. They are our servants – they are for us, we are for them.
The Crimean mentality preserves. It will be very difficult, if Crimea returns to Ukraine. I do not know how to fit these people into Ukrainian society. The residents of Crimea have obtained the second passport, the Russian one, almost everybody has done it as it is a real feat to have a Ukrainian passport, I have a couple of such friends. #It is much easier to live with Ukrainian passport in Russian Volgograd than to live with Ukrainian passport somewhere in Crimea. You will be given a money order in Volgograd, but you will not be given it in Crimea. You may call emergency ambulance in Volgograd, but in Crimea it will come only if you are dying.
I communicate with people, who share my position, and I see no difference whether this person lives in Lviv or Russia. I’ve stopped wasting my time with the rest. However, I cannot stop talking with some people, I mean my parents. Now we just speak about weather and health. I am a traitor for them. I am a Russian, I was born in Russia, I served in the Soviet army, I have been always able to obtain Russian citizenship. But #I have never lived in Russia by my own choice. I had to spend different periods of my life there, but I always felt uncomfortable there, either in Nakhodka, Moscow or Togliatti. “What about Crimea? We know how you treat Crimea.” Guys, I find it easier to change the city rather than the country.
I would like to have some dwelling and it’s not about how much I spend on rent. I would like to know that I have home. My place. I really want to honestly pay taxes to the state, I want to get official job and honestly pay taxes to the state. Here and now, I want the war to end, as #I don’t think anyone feels comfortable and confident about the future until it is shooting and people are dying there.
The story of Oleksiy is presented within the framework of the exhibition “My Place”, organized by the Educational Centre “Space of Tolerance” and the Congress of National Communities, supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The authors of the texts are Kyra Kreyderman and Uljana Ustinova. The photos were taken from the family archive.