1 March 2014, 14:53

Crimea: pro-Russian rallies underway, few pleased with announced referendum

Crimea: pro-Russian rallies underway, few pleased with announced referendum

There are lots of "polite people" in Crimea. This is the nickname of armed fighters dressed in uniforms without insignia who took under control the most important strategic objects of the Crimean Peninsula on February 28: the Supreme Council, the airport of Simferopol, Sevastopol’s airfield Belbek and some others. 

In all these cases there were no clashes; the armed "guests" behaved very correctly and that became a reason for the new expression that has quickly gained popularity on the Russian segment of the Internet.

Besides, the "polite people" disarmed the Ukrainian military and border guards in Balaklava, and without conflicts sealed up weapons facilities and took them under protection.

Against this background, pro-Russian rallies are under way in Crimea. Citizens of Simferopol, Sevastopol, Kerch, Evpatoria carrying Russian flags – the state’s tricoloured flag and the naval St. Andrew's flag - demand a referendum on the status of the peninsula. At the same time, few people are satisfied with the already announced referendum "On extending the autonomy" scheduled for May 25. Many openly admit that they would like to see Crimea either as a part of Russia or as an independent state.

There are no supporters of the Maidan, at least those openly defending their position, among the Russian population of Crimea. However, President Viktor Yanukovych deposed by the Maidan does not enjoy popularity either: he is openly called a traitor in Crimea. The people have put forward new leaders; the most famous of them is new mayor of Sevastopol, Alexei Chaly.

At the same time, new self-organization structures are being created. Russian communities of Crimea are actually reinventing themselves in the period when the old leaders turn out to be inadequate to the situation. Numerous units of self-defence, groups of the Russian Bloc and other organizations participate in rallies providing order and covering up the approaches to important facilities; they are also cooperating with the above-mentioned "polite people". Detachments of the Crimean self-defense and the local Berkut that did not obey the order of the Minister of the Interior of the Maidan government Avakov on its disbandment protect Crimea from a possible invasion of the Right Sector militants and other gangs. Several attempts of such an "arrival" have already been committed, but all of them have ended in immediate departure of the "guest actors" back.

The main problem which disturbs the inhabitants of Crimea today is the issue of Russia’s position in relation to Crimea. People are scared by "the ghost of the beginning of the 90s", and if Russia does not support the interests of the Russians in Crimea, the region can be considered lost. However, so far, Russia's actions in support of the anti-Maidan, and, first of all, in Crimea look both reasonable and adequate. The question is how far Crimea is ready to go - both its residents and those who represent them.

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