Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pro-Ukrainian Sentiment on the Rise in Russian-Occupied Crimea, Moscow Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 24 – Residents of Russian-occupied Crimea are increasingly angry about rising prices, widespread corruption among the outsiders Moscow has sent in to rule them, growing official pressure on their lives, and the absence of any hope for improvement, Vladimir Mukomel says.

            As a result, the expert from the Federal Scientific Research Sociological Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences says, it is no surprise that some in Crimea are increasingly pro-Ukrainian in orientation, especially in the wake of the election of Vladimir Zelensky as president (

            Mukomel who has conducted a series of polls in Crimea says that the people there are increasingly disappointed with Moscow’s approach. They had hoped for improvement with the construction of the Kerch Bridge, but that hasn’t happened. And now an increasing share of them have given up entirely.

            “Crimeans expect real and not propagandistic changes, changes which affect everyone individually,” he says. They are appalled by the growing level of corruption among officials, the unending change of those brought in to rule over them, and especially by the declining standard of living on the peninsula.

            According to Mukomel, “the standard of living rose sharply in 2014-2015 but then the situation became significantly worse,” as a result of the closing of the land links with Ukraine and the ensuring explosion of prices. “Prices now are higher than even in Moscow,” the Russian scholar says. And some of them are of much lower quality.

            Saying people are disappointed might be a stretch, he suggests, but there is a lack of understanding as to why this is happening and serious concern about how people will live in the future. “That is especially the case with young people. There is no work, and if it exists, it is poorly paid.”

            “Young people do not see any prospects and experts warn that financing of the peninsula from the federal center will fall an order of magnitude in the coming years. That is, the flood of money which was distributed with such publicity will cease,” the Moscow scholar says. As a result, few in Crimea see any chance for improvement.

            The Kerch bridge was supposed to help, Mukomel continues; but it hasn’t or at least it hasn’t to the extent that people were promised and had expected. Moreover, because of sanctions, people in Crimea have many fewer chances to do their banking with reliable outlets or to travel abroad.

            Many are especially upset that their football team, which once took part in all-Ukrainian competitions now can’t take part even in all-Russian ones. Instead, it must make do with local opponents and that has infuriated fans. 

            At the same time, Mukomel adds, people in Crimea follow what is going on in Ukraine. Many of them have great expectations from the election of Vladimir Zelensky as Ukrainian president.  And the Russian scholar cites with obvious approval but concern the conclusion of a pro-Moscow blogger in Crimea who says pro-Ukrainian sentiments in Crime are on the rise. 

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