News - March 13, 2014

‘In the Crimea, they think they would be better off with Russia’

Russian student Pavel comments on the news: Last weekend Russian military took over border posts in the Crimea. The situation on the peninsula has been unstable since the region started trying to secede from the Ukraine. The international community is expressing its disapproval of the Russian move with sanctions.

Commentary by Pavel, a student from Russia

‘The situation in the Ukraine feels like a real nightmare. But when I wake up and read the news, it is still a reality. You don’t learn much from the news anyway; you just get to see the game in which the EU and Putin flex their muscles. It reminds you of the Cold War. I see a lot of worrying news on Facebook too, such as Russian friends of mine who have been arrested for protesting against the Russian military intervention.

The population of the Ukraine is divided because the quality of life there continues to be poor. All the neighbouring countries are more prosperous. People in the west think they would be better off in the EU, whereas in the east, including the Crimea, they think they would be better off with Russia. Whether that referendum in the Crimea can be legal, I don’t know. But I don’t think it will make much difference to the residents which country they belong too in the near future. I think your identity comes more from the region you live in.

Here I am constantly asked about my opinion of Putin and the events in the Crimea. I must admit that I don’t know how it will end, either. I’ve got used to Putin’s behavior by now, and what can I change? If he does something else ridiculous, I am certainly ashamed of it, but by the same token I feel sorry for Italians when I see Berlusconi in action.

Mid-February I hoped that the worst was over. I was talking about it with a Ukrainian friend, and we both thought the situation could only get better. Now I see how wrong we were. For me personally, it could get difficult, because I am going to Russia for fieldwork in two months. Now I still have a visa, but if things escalate further it could turn out badly for me. I prefer to stay positive and hope it doesn’t come to that.’

At the interviewee’s request a pseudonym has been used.