Political analyst Yevgenia Goryunova: New trend in Crimea is "this is all because of your Euromaidan that we now have Russia here..."
Crimean political analyst Yevgenia Goryunova sat down with UNIAN to tell us about the mass resettlement of Russians to Crimea, social discrimination of Crimeans in favor of newcomers, and catastrophic militarization of people's consciousness. Also, she explained with examples that the love of the local residents across the annexed peninsula to Russia is now fading away.
While preparing for the interview, at some social network I came across a dark joke: “Some places in Crimea are already like the Bermuda triangle: water, light, gas, and heating constantly disappear there, and no one can find them for a long time.” Recently, Simferopol saw yet another scheduled blackout and a shutdown of water and gas supplies. Please, tell us about the actual situation with electricity and the problem of water and gas scarcity.
That's some sad joke, indeed... Let's start with the most difficult problem – water supply. No matter how hard the Russian authorities in Crimea and those in the Kremlin try, it cannot be solved without Ukraine. The fact is that 85% of all water required Crimea received from mainland Ukraine via the North-Crimean Canal. You can't just bring such volumes of water by tankers, so the Russians opted for the easiest way. They began to drill underground wells and pump out water – not just for the population, but on an industrial scale (including for the operations of the “Crimean Titan” factory).
In fact, all this led to an environmental disaster. Northern Crimea and, in particular, Eastern Crimea no longer have fresh water reserves - salt water is starting to show up in the wells. Mountain rivers of Crimea, which have never dried up before, are dry today. There are practically no smaller streams left in Crimea, while reservoirs become shallower. Let's recall the latest satellite map of Crimea published in media (I believe it was September or even August), where you can see the difference between the previously green Crimea and the modern picture where two-thirds are grayish-brown. Of course, the summer was hot, but what does this mean? There is not enough water and plants are dying out.
At some point, the Crimea will face the problem of the almost complete lack of fresh water for the needs of the population. Of course, you can desalinate sea water (Israel does it), but it is very expensive. Is Russia ready to invest huge money?
With electricity, the situation is simpler. The so-called Kuban-Crimea energy bridge stretches from the territory of mainland Russia. But here a problem arises in the laying of this bridge: they supplied poor-quality equipment. So, one day the bridge is working, while another two days it's under repair. The same applies to all power lines, which are now being changed. Once it starts raining, light goes off – today it's a norm for Crimea. Besides the energy bridge, they decided to deliver the Siemens gas turbines, bypassing sanctions. They could have somehow agreed with the Germans, perhaps they even taught Russian specialists how to work with those turbines... But, apparently, the Russians appeared to be not quite competent. In August, the turbines caused a roof leak at those new units of thermal power plants in Sevastopol. Satellite pictures show that the roof just melted. Just the other day, there was something wrong with the turbine in Simferopol... In fact, they cannot solve the problem to stop power shortages. Therefore, electricity prices will rise, while blackouts will remain systematic.
Most favorable is the situation with gas. First, there is Chernomorneftegaz, a gas producer brazenly annexed along with the territory of the Ukrainian peninsula, which in fact has been providing Crimea with gas. Plus, Russia has laid a gas pipeline to Crimea because own gas fails to cover the needs of those newly built units at TPPs. But here the technology is more or less worked out, so Crimea has no gas shortages today. If there are any outages, this is due to some technical flaws.
You have already touched upon environmental issues, so let's elaborate. For example, the Titan Plant has once again been launched. Do you think anything has been improved there in terms of environmental safety or do the threats remain?
After the tragedy in Armyansk, experts said that a huge amount of water was needed to fix the situation with the acid reservoir. Once again, there's not enough freshwater, so they decided to lay dozens kilometers of pipes to get sea water. It should have taken about eight months, while Titan was re-opened just a month after the hazardous spill... We do understand that nothing was laid, in fact.
In general, over the four years the environmental situation in Crimea has deteriorated catastrophically. And it's not just about water, it's also about crazy emissions from gas turbine power plants deployed throughout Crimea in a bid to solve power shortage issues. Plus, remember that cars in Russia are really cheaper. Crimeans admit that they've bought up that “Russian scrap” that is now polluting air with CO2 emissions. The Tavrida highway, by the way, will bring even more cars. It's even painful to watch the process of its construction as all trees growing there for decades are being cut down.
Let's talk about the living standards in Crimea. Does it continue plummeting?
I wouldn't say that the standard of living of Crimeans has been plummeting. Actually, if you compare local wages and pensions with those in Ukraine, they have risen. When in 2014, Russian salaries and pensions were set in rubles, over these four years, pensions increased by about 8-10% and salaries – by 20-25%. This looks good on paper but let's talk about reality.
For example, today the average pension in Crimea is RUB 12,000-13,000, that is, about UAH 5,000 but (!) this is the average wage between the minimum of RUB 7,000 and RUB 100,000 of a military serviceman. Besides, most senior citizens in Crimea receive minimal pensions. A pension of RUB 10,000 (this is UAH 4,000) is already considered good. Besides, the growth of salaries and pensions is incomparable with that of prices in stores and utility bills. Since 2014, prices have increased by 200%.
With salaries, the situation is not too optimistic, either. When we talk about a salary of RUB 26,000, even RUB 30,000 (about UAH 11,000), it is considered average for the industry. But a kindergarten nurse gets RUB 7,000 (slightly more than UAH 2,500). At the same time, the "Minister of Education" of Crimea could receive RUB 150,000-200,000 (up to UAH 73,000).
Recently I saw a wonderful report where a blogger interviewed Crimeans about their life there. There was this young man who told her: “You know, here's a strange situation: there seems to be more money, but in fact there is less of it.” This fully describes the situation in Crimea.
Let's try to identify three social spheres where the situation is especially critical.
Of course, today's health care in Crimea is a disaster. Coincidentally, having annexed Crimea, Russia is simultaneously optimizing its health care system. The principle of optimization is to combine everything that is possible to create huge medical agglomerations.
If we compare the rates of natural population decline (that is, the excess of mortality over birth rate), in four years it has doubled in Crimea, while under Ukraine's control it was -1.5. The latest data say it's roughly -3.6 or -3.7.
Women don't want to have children because they have no confidence in tomorrow, while people keep dying at catastrophic rates. They die because they get no health care and it is very difficult to get medicines. For medical facilities, it is forbidden to sign prescriptions for free medications, only to make people buy them. People only get what hospital drugstores have in stock (and these medicines are either ineffective or deficient). People can't even get an appointment. If you want a certain narrow profile doctor to check you, you need to sign up and wait for about a month. To get to the ultrasound, you need to wait three to six months, but sometimes people just don't make it.
Previously, in Simferopol, you could easily get an appointment with a private doctor, but today you have to sign up beforehand. After all, private clinics are the only alternative and opportunity to be cured.
Secondly, it's Russian education. Crimeans are a little shocked. Sometimes they laugh, but sometimes they are horrified by Russian textbooks and ideological propaganda. In Russia, the key point is not teaching kids critical thinking skills, but making them memorize the already written ideas, even those that are purely delusional. Even comparing with the far from perfect Ukrainian curriculum, today children struggle in Crimean schools. The teachers struggle, too. First, their workload has increased dramatically, the amount of paperwork jumped 50-70% (as is the case with doctors, by the way). When local teachers dreamed of larger Russian salaries, they were unaware of the fact that it consisted of two parts: a small salary and so-called stimulating bonuses, that is, additional payments. But we all understand that while everyone gets their salary, those additional payments are reserved only for those who "do special services for the Motherland."
If we talk about social areas, we can also mention pensioners. Those “large pensions” that senior citizens dreamed can hardly help you survive with Russian prices and bills. Bread prices grow 5-7% every month... Today, many people in Crimea actually live below the poverty line.
Throughout the annexation period, there has been a massive resettlement of people from mainland Russia to the occupied peninsula. Can we guess how much the population composition has changed?
It’s very difficult to talk about ethnic issues. We can't trust the census the Russians carried out in the autumn of 2014. There is a marker explaining my point: according to the census, the number of Ukrainians has decreased by 10% in six months. Would you believe this? After all, there was no large-scale departure... It’s just that people started identifying themselves as Russians for various reasons. Maybe someone really ceased to consider themselves Ukrainian, but someone did so for security reasons. However, the ethnic data here are completely wrong, I am positive.
At the same time, Russian statistics show issues related in general to the replacement of the population in Crimea, which is what's really happening. Over these four and a half years, more than 200,000 people moved to the peninsula. Moreover, about 70% are from Russia, while the rest are mostly from the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donbas.
But the worst thing is that the population of Crimea during the period has pretty much remained unchanged. It's the same 2.3 million as it was. That is, about 200,000 have left, but just as many have arrived. Those who have lived all their life in Crimea, who have their ancestors buried here, have moved out. Those who arrived are people without any sentiment for Crimea. The population of the peninsula is changing rapidly and, in particular, in terms of mentality.
A lot of young people are leaving. They don't see themselves in Crimea. Today it is a closed sanctioned territory, so you cannot even update some applications in your smartphone, software doesn't work... Of course, they are accustomed to VPN, but some kind of inferiority remains. IT people have all fled. How can they work in a closed down space after all?
Crimea is turning into a reserve for pensioners. There have always been many senior citizens living there, but now the working population is declining, young people go, while the number of pensioners, due to natural causes, is increasing every year. In fact, this is a sad trend for the peninsula, which has become a khaki-colored high security zone with accumulating social and political problems, militarization of people's consciousness, and so on.
Have you heard of cases where, say, only a few local families remained in a whole apartment block, while the rest were Russian newcomers...?
I have no such examples. Crimeans just say that there are a lot of resettlers. You know, you can feel this ongoing replacement of the population not so much in the houses as on the streets or in shops. Their speech, behavior – it's all completely different. Crimea has always been an open resort region, there have always been a lot of people. But one thing is when people come to visit, and another thing is when guests start behaving like hosts. In this case, if we take a 2.3 million population of Crimea, there is 10% of newcomers. These are very high numbers in just four years.
Media report that the Crimean residents of military age face criminal charges for draft evasion in Russia (three dozen criminal cases have already been launched). Is it worth expecting a wave of resettlement against this background?
I don't think so, although, some young people do move to mainland Ukraine. They have this trick to evade military service: they join Ukrainian universities. Russia in this case recognizes the fact that they are university students, thus being entitled to skip service pending their study.
Sevastopol ranked last but one in the recent Russian ranking of cities in terms of wages. Last year, you wrote that Crimeans, in principle, have difficulties with finding a job. Has the trend changed?
The trend is only growing. In Sevastopol, if we are talking about the municipal bodies (with more or less good salaries), under Menyaylo [Sergey Menyaylo, ex-"governor" of Sevastopol], there were about 30% of Russians in the local government. Today, it's 99%. Only janitors are Sevastopol natives.
Or, take major road construction in Crimea, while, for some reason, not too significant taxes are being paid. And everything is very simple here: all tenders were won by Russian companies, paying taxes in cities where they are registered. These firms bring along seasonal workers and register them in such a way that they work only for a month or two, allowing companies not to pay taxes here, on the spot. That is, it turns out that Crimea does not receive taxes. Plus, those brought workers are easier to hire: they bring them, settle in a dorm, pay or not pay them, give them ticket money, and they are already happy that at least they will make it come. Crimeans will not work 18-20 hours a day. They need to come home after work, they are aware of the Labor Code, it's obvious.
Crimeans today are being squeezed out to the periphery, they are becoming marginalized in their own home and it is very difficult to find a normal job. In general, there is a very interesting situation in Crimea now: Crimeans no longer like Russians. There are unspoken and complex tensions between the newcomers and Crimeans. The attitude of Russians towards Crimeans is somewhat condescendingly dismissive ... This is very well seen on online forums, where Russians constantly reproach Crimeans: "How about your Ukrainian past?..." "we took you, we're doing so much for you, while you're so ungrateful ..." And then Crimeans (of course, using made-up names and avatars) write: “Why did you take us anyway? You told us we were brothers, and today you're humiliating us.” Also, Crimeans are now more frequently using certain words and phrases in Ukrainian...
I once wrote a report about Crimea and talked with locals. I remember well one of the women saying, “It's only those newcomers from Russia who are satisfied. They just say they've always lived like that, while here they also have the sun and the sea. But people here remember another kind of life...” So, are those newcomers really satisfied with everything?
Let's imagine the Siberian middle-of-nowhere: permafrost, no roads, questionable job options, everyone gets drunk all year round… And, suddenly, by some lucky chance, the person from a place like that moves to Crimea. Of course, for them it is heaven on earth. Weather conditions, fruit trees... Therefore, they like everything, and they just don't get the "whining" of locals. They ask what exactly the locals don't like. They say this is Russia. "What kind of Russia have you expected?" they ask. "The one they show on TV? Well, sorry, TV and reality are completely different things." And the local people, they do remember another life. After all, they used to practically live in Europe.
What are the sentiments today? Who is most blamed for what's happening: is it Moscow or Kyiv?
There is a new trend to say: "This is all because of your Euromaidan that we now have Russia here…" Moreover, even those who voted in the “referendum” might say that. However, in general, the locals mostly blame the Crimean "government," considering that Moscow officials are simply unaware of Crimea's problems. There, they say, sits a good tsar, and no one tells him about what's happening, while bad people from his entourage create chaos. Therefore, people actually regularly write letters to the Kremlin. Naturally, they get only formal replies...
In general, Crimeans are very disappointed with what they got. Life isn't getting any better, and now frustration is already being observed: people just don't care anymore. They realize it won't get better...
Take the Kerch Strait Bridge - they promised that after its opening, prices will immediately drop. The bridge has been built, while prices only rose. For example, petrol is becoming more expensive, although logistical issues have been resolved (it is reported that petrol and diesel fuel are allowed for transportation across the bridge, plus there's the sea route). So why is fuel so expensive? It's because Russian petroleum traders profit from this. Who would give up own profits for the sake of Crimea? So, there's this new startup in Crimea – people drive to Russia's Krasnodar Territory to refuel and save some pennies.
I saw a story where “Cossack” Sergei Akimov, who supported the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, complains that prices are higher than in Russia, argues with local officials, and admits that he was better off with Ukraine, urging Crimeans to unite... Could the locals resort to any rebellion?
You see, there is some protest potential, which for various reasons doesn't break free. First, there are no real political forces that could lead the protest. Communists are a party fed by authorities, working only when they see profit. Even if we look at rallies against pension reform that swept across Russia, in Crimea, they were extremely small, with just a few pensioners attending the "rally"... All other Crimeans didn’t take to the streets - they do not perceive the Communists as a force capable of protecting their rights. They are already a marginal and obsolete political force.
But, unfortunately, there are no other political opposition forces in Crimea. The Crimean political field has been heavily cleaned up for United Russia and this "pocket opposition." Therefore, if someone goes out for a rally with a poster saying “I am for Navalny” or even “I am for Sobchak,” this is at least an administrative offense. You would be allowed to stand there for five to ten minutes, until a police officer sees you...
Secondly, in the Crimea, an atmosphere of a high security prison has been created, while people are really afraid to find themselves behind bars. Take Armyansk, where a local woman Yekaterina Pivovar tried to organize a flash mob (far from being political), gather mothers for a rally in defense of their children who breathe filthy air coming from the factory… Just about twenty people showed up at the rally... People are afraid, you know.
In the Ukrainian information space there is a firm conviction that the level of propaganda in Crimea is much higher than in Russia. Is this true?
Yes. I think they are trying to catch up to completely immerse Crimeans in the "world of Russia." Propaganda here is focused on a few things. Of course, this is the cult of Putin, the cult of war, and the catastrophic militarization of consciousness, not to mention the "immortal divisions [WWII remembrance flashmobs that turned into a propaganda tool]" Children are exploited en mass in all these military games. Today in Crimea, the so-called "marches of moms with strollers" have got popular. Imagine: a six-month toddler in a stroller in a military-style shirt, while their mothers wear a military cap and sport a “St. George ribbon,” marching with their strollers. That is, they try to make children get used to that military paraphernalia from such an early age.
On the eve of May 9, photo shoots are popular of children in military shirts holding machine guns. People stand in long lines to take these photos. Teenagers are attracted to all sorts of "youth army" clubs and military competitions of all sorts. Crimean schools are being transformed, to some extent, into branches of military educational facilities. That's not to mention the fact that military schools and cadet lyceums are being opened. Children live in the constant atmosphere of the cult of war, and this affects their psyche, which is just being formed. It's very scary to observe, actually.
I lived all my life in Crimea, and I've never seen anything like that.
I read an op-ed by a Crimean blogger who uses the alias Zarema Seitablaeva, who writes that now in Crimea there are now fewer portraits of Putin, while Crimeans start calling him names without hesitating. Plus, it became easier to cross into mainland Ukraine and back. The blogger suggests that “all these are indirect signs, but they very clearly demonstrate that the grip of the 'geostrategist' on Crimea's throat is getting weaker.” Do you agree?
This is not about Crimea only, I believe that things like that can be seen throughout Russia. In this case, Crimea is a litmus test. If we are talking about Russian national paraphernalia in general, indeed, there's not so much of it now as it used to be. I remember very well the spring of 2014, when it seemed to me that the world had gone mad - everything was painted in the colors of the Russian flag. I was shocked to see my neighbors coming out as such Russia lovers. Today, of course, the euphoria has passed, but I can't say that Putin is being strongly criticized. Rather, they say: "Russia is going the wrong way, the policy is wrong." But it's the local authorities that the people are scolding.
The de-facto border, indeed, is now easier to cross. Previously, FSB operatives at checkpoints showed their disregard for those traveling to mainland Ukraine: “Why are you going there, to a non-existent state? ...” Now, considering that Ukraine still exists and, moreover, signed a visa-free travel deal with the EU, while FSB guys are even banned from traveling abroad, something, apparently, is beginning to "click" in their head. But I wouldn't say that this is a general tendency or an order from their superiors to be nicer to people.
In Crimea, the head of the FSB office was replaced. Instead of Viktor Palagin, the office is now headed by Russian Lieutenant General Leonid Mikhailyuk. Do you think anything will change? Is it possible to expect a relief in terms of repression?
In the CV of the new FSB chief I am concerned about the time he served in North Caucasus during the Chechen wars. If someone was there in that period, some kind of softness shouldn't be expected. However, "softness" and FSB are generally incompatible things. I think the repression will continue. Russia, after all, needs to keep the Crimeans in fear. Indeed, against the background of any softening, social protests and the like could be expected, so they just can't allow this to happen.
Today, in Crimea, many people who in one way or another got into a spotlight of security officials are at risk – they can get locked up on the most far-fetched charges. There might as well be some new cases against “saboteurs.” These guys had learned how to make up a case back in the Lavrentiy Beria's era.
Also recently, Simferopol Mayor Igor Lukashev resigned along with his whole team at Aksenov's request. What do these personnel reshuffles mean in general and will they continue?
The deck of local officials is constantly being shuffled (it’s really small, in fact), while trying to get someone new. This is done out of despair, since it is impossible to solve problems in Crimea, so they start looking for scapegoats. Also, Aksenov is trying to pose as an authoritarian leader, threatening to fire everyone... Well, he may fire them, but then what?
In this case, Russia's position is interesting. Whether everything is so bad for them that they just don't care anymore about what's happening in Crimea, or this is some kind of a last test for Aksenov.
Often we can hear opinions that "Russia would swap Donbas for Crimea." What do you think about this?
Of course, this could be an option. Russia had started this mess in Donbas as a bargaining chip. Unofficially, Russia constantly offers to exchange Crimea for Donbas, Syria for Ukraine – things like that. But here, first of all, the question is not so much about Russia with its aggressive policy, it's about whether Ukraine is ready to exchange Crimea for Donbas. It seems to me that, at least, the current government is not ready for such a move. After all, for the state it is not just an image loss, it is partly a loss of statehood.
Also important is the position of the West. If today the West officially gave the go-ahead for Russia to have Crimea, this would mean that it officially allowed redrawing borders worldwide. This would open Pandora's box. After all, in this debate, we could come back to the events of the 13th-14th centuries, to the global redistribution of borders...
We have borders today that have been recognized by treaties. This is the core of international law. You touch that – you get a global catastrophe.
For the civilized world living according to international canons, it is a deadly move. Therefore, I think the West will not go for such recognition, either, although Russia, of course, will continue its attempts. However, they are becoming less and less active as there is less and less money to buy up foreign lobbyists.
More than a third of Ukrainians, 38.8%, share the opinion that Crimea could be returned to Ukraine after the change of Russian leadership. Do you agree?
You know, people used to say that "liberal Russia ends on the Ukrainian question." Today it ends on the issue of Crimea. If you look at today's Russian politicians who could become Putin’s successors or take Russia's helm by opposing him, I don’t see anyone ready to return Crimea to Ukraine. There was one politician in Russia who was ready to say: “We must return Crimea, otherwise we will never be able to return to the civilized world.” That was Boris Nemtsov. Probably, his honesty is one of the reasons why, unfortunately, he is no longer with us today.
Players in Russia's political arena, despite their most liberal views, are not at all ready to talk about the return of Crimea. The politician who wants Russia to truly change must clearly say: “The first thing I will do when I come to power is sit at the negotiating table with Ukraine after the return of Crimea.” Now I don't see such people in Russia. Therefore, I'm not part of these nearly 40% of Ukrainians who believe in some kind of “Russian Kennedy.”
You once wrote that it makes Russians proud to seize foreign territories and that about 40% of Russian citizens consider the "return of Crimea to Russia" a reason for pride, along with victory in World War II. Has something changed today? After all, apparently, Putin's popular rating and that of Medvedev keep falling.
You know, I recently saw the results of an interesting study about the future of Russia, conducted in three cities - Moscow, Vladimir and Gus-Khrustalny. People were asked what they wanted in future, what were their hopes for the state, and so on. The absolute majority of Russians in all three cities said that they were dissatisfied with the current policies, and especially with Russia's foreign policy. That is, they are dissatisfied with these campaigns in Ukraine and Syria (they did not speak about Crimea – we do understand that the situation here is a little different). This, of course, is a very small study that does not provide an indicative picture throughout Russia, but this is already a marker.
Indeed, the worse the economic situation in Russia, the less Russian they will be interested in foreign policy. We've long waited for this situation to change. And it seems to me that now comes a period when it will change at a much faster pace than before. The safety cushion is getting thinner. Oil price fluctuates. Russian reserves that have accumulated over the period of oil profits have been emptied, while pensions and wages in the public sector, security and law enforcement agencies must be paid. Taxes are rising, as well as excise duties. On January 1, Russians and Crimeans will see completely new prices.
Naturally, sooner or later, the Russian people will snap under such pressure. And, alas, I don't think that a change of leadership in Russia can be peaceful. It will not be a peaceful protest, but a bloody Russian revolt, which will be terrible for us, too. After all, we don't know how it will reflect on us. But the process has begun, and it is impossible to stop it. Moreover, Russian authorities are not even making efforts to do it. They live according to the principle that reminds me of the situation in Europe of the 16th-18th century - complete absolutism: "Après nous le deluge" [After us comes the flood]...
The New Year is coming. The occupation authorities in Crimea in a greeting address will definitely boast of success... Are there any real success stories? Is there any improvement in some areas?
Of course, they will boast of the Bridge. But what's the use of that bridge for Crimeans if prices have not declined? Yes, you can go to the Krasnodar Territory to get petrol but this is hardly a success story. If we talk about solving the problem of energy supplies, the turbines have been delivered, but whether they will work is another question.
There will be a lot of improvements on paper. Of course, they will show the growth of salaries and pensions, the percentage comparison, will show how much money is being allocated. But how will this affect real life?
The Constitutional Commission is about to consider a draft amendment to the Ukrainian Constitution regarding the status of the Crimean Peninsula. Do you support amending the Constitution in relation to the Crimean Tatar people? Do you think it's necessary?
Honestly, no matter how hard I analyze these documents, I can’t give a clear answer for myself - will this really help de-occupy Crimea? I talked to representatives of the Mejlis, asked them questions (after all, I am a pragmatist and I like everything to be laid out on the shelves for me). Everyone says that it will be easier to protect the rights of Crimea in international organizations and so on. Yes, maybe… But so far I don't see a clear roadmap for the de-occupation of the peninsula through these changes. On the other hand, can't these changes become a bargaining card for parliament and president? Will the Ukrainian political elite be able to address this issue today, or will it become an apple of discord, of which we already have enough?
In general, when we talk about any such things within the Crimea issue, we need to be very careful. I am very concerned about whether the amendments become a problem for the ethnic Ukrainian Crimeans on the peninsula. After all, any of our actions could provoke a completely inadequate reaction on the part of Russia towards those who live there. If, God forbid, we somehow provoke it, the blame will lie on Ukrainian politicians.
Therefore, when certain radical things or things are voiced, designed to radically change something, you have to really think twice, or better, a hundred times. We need to be extremely cautious on such issues. In no case must we make them the subject of political bargaining, manipulation, and so on. Politicians can "play" a bit, but they should remember that there are real people living in Crimea, after all, who are there to stay.