Theater of Cruelty

Alternative Crimean history

About the detachment from Ukraine and the Western sanctions seen with the eyes of Crimea.


The sanctions the West has initiated against Russia and Crimea came as a surprise to Vladimir Konstantinov. It was "as if a jealous neighbor, whom you still considered a fairly normal person, had found out that you were celebrating an event in your home, and by all means began to loosen up the heating system and sing obscene songs," writes he in his book  To Go One's Own Way. "If people in Crimea had any illusions about the objectivity of the West, they lost them on the day the sanctions were introduced," he continues.

Political trill. Konstantinov is an engineer and president of the 2010 autonomous republic parliament. He was central to the Ukraine disengagement process in connection with the Kiev coup in February 2014. The book is a personal and candid political thriller from Crimea's inner life during the country's fate – richly illustrated and with key agreements in print. The reader is in good company.

Crimea had been Russian for nearly 200 years when the Ukrainian Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 transferred the peninsula to Ukraine – over the heads of the people. The time under Ukraine was not good. Russian and Crimean Tatar language and culture were suppressed in favor of Ukrainian. According to Konstantinov, the majority's thoughts on disengaging and returning to "Mother Russia" became increasingly pronounced.

The 1998 Constitution gave Crimea the right to help shape Ukraine's foreign policy, but this right was sabotaged. Crimea was left out of discussions about Ukraine's accession to NATO, and no one asked Crimea when Yanukovych signed the deal with the coup makers, guaranteed by European politicians on February 21, 2014.

Vladimir Konstantinov. AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV

At an informal meeting in Moscow in January of that year, Konstantinov had raised the question of what Crimea could do, according to Moscow, if the rebels overthrew the legally elected authorities in Ukraine. It was important for Crimea not to miss that moment as they would have legal access to return to Russia. The interlocutors thought Yanukovych would stand.

secession. The Crimean Constitution also gave the right to a referendum. The matter was discussed in the Crimean presidency on February 4, 2014. Should they turn to Russia and ask for guarantees of Crimean status as an autonomous republic?

The book is a personal and candid political thriller from Crimea's inner life in the country's fate.

Crimean policemen defended the Constitution at Maidan Square – three of them with life. On February 20, a bus column of people from Crimea who had been in Kiev to defend the constitution was attacked by armed rebels. Everyone was commanded out of the buses and abused at its worst. Those who tried to escape were attacked with dogs. 7 people died and over 20 are still missing. This told the people of Crimea what they had in store.

The coup d'état and the president's escape marked the end of Ukraine formed by the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, writes Konstantinov. Those who had seized power did not conceal their intentions, he writes: “The Moscowites should be hanged. The Republic of Crimea was to be liquidated. All this was made public. They wanted to destroy us. This situation threatened Crimea with chaos and war. On the other hand, it legally allowed us to sail away from the Ukrainian coast and the Nazi mutiny, and get us back to Russia. ”But they still had no Russian guarantees. "For us, the time had come to contend with an unpredictable result."

Fate Hour. The rebels' approach was to threaten the elected officials and their families. Konstantinov was told that he would be brought to Kiev in a box. On February 23, the whole of Simferopol was on its feet. The Crimean militia formed as part of the Russian Unity Party, led by Sergei Aksionov. Many different defense units were formed, including by Crimean Tatars. At the same time, the Mejlis terrorist organization – banned in Russia – held a meeting that gathered about 10 people. Konstantinov writes that Mejlis had been used by Kiev for 000 years to keep inter-ethnic conflicts going in Crimea. Now also came people from the Right Sector in Kiev. The right-wing extremists blocked the parliament building.

The people of Crimea avoided a carnage. They are proud of the choice they made. They do not understand the West's reaction.

After a few dramatic days, a new government under Prime Minister Aksionov was elected by the Crimean parliament. The referendum decision was made. Konstantinov feared internal divisions. If the politicians did not agree, he considered it impossible to get the guarantees they depended on from Russia. Konstantinov emphasizes in the book that the decision to ask Putin for help was made in Crimea after massive calls from ordinary people. On March 1, the coup makers in Kiev were told that Russia was ready to defend law, order and the people's right to hold a referendum on the future in Crimea. The Ukrainian military was now being held in his custody. As a symbol of Russian guarantees, twelve "green men" without distinctions stood in uniforms in front of the parliament building. They were not many, but symbols are important in politics, writes Konstantinov. One man was left in the park when I was there in October this year – in bronze.

The People's Militia guaranteed that the historic election on March 16, 2014 went well. Of the 83,1 percent of voters who went to the polls, 95,6 percent wanted Crimea to return to Russia.

The West's reaction. Konstantinov writes that the "World War II fascist executioner Bandera" is among those now celebrated in Kiev, and at the same time Western politicians are putting flowers on the memorial of the victims of Babij Jar. "The authorities in Kiev may be looking to destroy their own country," the author writes. "Maybe the western strategy is to use the whole country as live bomb, such terrorists use zombified suicide bombers, and then pick up the res-
seats. "

The people of Crimea avoided a carnage. They are proud of the choice they made. They do not understand the West's reaction. The Russians are a history-conscious people. The wounds of the Second World War concern everyone. Flirting with Nazism is nothing for most Russians. That is what Western politicians will not accept when applying these insane sanctions to the country.

What will the Norwegian people say on the day a Norwegian government, with outside support, gets to raise a statue of Quisling?

See Travel letter from Crimea – one year after
Hoel is Master of Philosophy.

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