Crimea. A beautiful peninsula in the Black
Sea that few people in the West heard about before 2014… and then… all hell broke
loose! Russian occupation!
Russian annexation! What else was there?
Some of this. Some of that. There was also “land grab”, “19th century
actions in the 21st century”, and even this But what really happened here 2 years ago? Hello, and happy St. Patrick’s Day. My name is Alex and we are in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. Tomorrow marks 2 years since Russia officially either annexed Crimea or Crimea rejoined Russia. We came here to learn the
truth of what happened back then, why it happened, and ask locals what they think about it. So, as you know from our previous videos,
in winter of 2013-2014 there was a movement called Euromaidan in Ukrainian capital of
Kiev aimed at ousting Viktor Yanukovich – the elected president. While there was significant
popular support for the movement in Western and Central Ukraine, people South-Eastern
Ukraine, especially in the regions of Donbass and Crimea, were very wary of what was going
on in Kiev. in February of 2014, Euromaidan, which was
supported both by Ukraine’s robber-baron oligarchs, and the West, came to a violent
resolution. Hardcore ultra nationalists, hiding behind the backs of peaceful protestors organized
a violent and bloody coup d’etat. During the EuroMaidan, Russia and Russian
speakers were often targets of hateful calls and speeches. And Crimea, where the “wrong
kind of Ukrainians” live and where about 90% of people are Russian speakers, was a
favorite target for nationalists. Immediately after Euromaidan overthrew Yanukovich,
the first act of the new “revolutionary” parliament was to repeal laws that gave language
rights to Russian and other minority language speakers. Crimea, was once again on top of
that list. Even before this, before Euromaidan even won,
on the 20th of February of 2014, near the city of Korsun, ultranationalists stopped
a bus full of Crimean who were in Kiev to voice their opposition to Euromaidan movement.
These activists were taken out of the bus, humiliated and beaten. 7 people died on that
day, and the nationalists themselves posted videos of this on Youtube, bragging about
their victory, and threatening to do the same to anyone who disagreed with their version
of what Ukraine should be. They also publicly promising to send a quote
“friendship train” full of armed thugs to Crimea to force the locals to love Ukraine
or else… So blood, Crimean blood, was spilled by Ukrainian
nationalists, the victors of Euromaidan. In the cold of late February 2014, 7 Crimean
families were burring their fathers and sons, and all 2 million Crimeans were preparing
for the worst. ———
But why are there so many “wrong Ukrainians” in Crimea? To answer that question, we have
to take a quick look at the history of Crimea. Crimea is a strategic peninsular located in
northern part of the Black Sea. Because of this, Crimea has been a part of various empires
and kingdoms. Roman, Greek and Byzantine, Ottoman and even
Mongol empires at various points claimed all or some of the peninsular.
Traders from as far as Italian Venice and Genoa established trade colonies here. The
ancient Russian Tmutarakan principality founded in the 10th century laid claim to the eastern
part of peninsula. Ancient tribes like the Tauri and Scythian,
as well as the modern Crimean Tatars had their power base on the peninsula.
Hell, even Goth, the ones who sacked Rome, not the ones who wear all black, called Crimea
their home in the past. For centuries Crimea was a launching ground
for slaver raids into South Russian lands, but in 1783, Catherine the Great of Russia,
after defeating Turkey in a decade long war, incorporated the peninsula into the Russian
Empire. In early 19th century, Crimea, together with
what later became South East Ukraine, was part of the Novorossia, or New Russia region
of the empire. Under Russian rule Crimea was settled by Russians,
Belorussian, Little Russian (as proto-Ukrainians were then called), as well as Germans, Bulgarians,
Jews and many others. The region experienced a growth in trade, agriculture, and later
tourism and flourished under Russian rule. Even after the creation of Ukrainian state
by Vladimir Lenin, and after Ukraine was one of the founding member of the Soviet Union,
Crimea remained a part of Russian Federal Republic within the USSR.
Take a look at this clip from US Department of Defense “Why we fight” film. Ukraine
and Crimea are clearly and obviously separate entities.
And it was the Soviet leader Nikita Khurshev, you unilaterally, and many say in violation
of Soviet laws, transferred Crimea from Russian Soviet Republic to Ukrainian Soviet Republic.
But, again, at this time no one imagined the Soviet Union would ever collapse, so the transfer
was just an administrative and technical decision within one country.
But at its core, in its soul, Crimea always remained Russian. Furthermore, Russian Christian
tradition originates in Crimea – Russian Prince Vladimir, who baptized the Russian
people, was himself baptized in the town of Khersoness in Crimea, and Sevastopol is the
Russian equivalent of the American Alamo – a city that on two occasions – during the
Crimean War of the 19th century, and in World War 2 – heroically held its ground, didn’t
surrender, and fought the enemy to the last defender.
These are some of the historic reasons Russia believes it has a valid claim to Crimea.
———- But you know, Russia’s claim that Crimea
is Russian, because of some ancient prince, or even because of what happened here in World
War 2 is not that relevant. What really matters, at least if we live in a democratic society,
is what the Crimeans of today, think and want So when in 2014, after Ukrainian nationalists killed 7 Crimeans, and threatened to do the
same to anyone who disagrees with the new “democratic” government in Kiev, locals
started to organize into self-defense units and scheduled a referendum to democratically
decide the future of their regioin. However, this was not the first time this
happened. In January 1991, when leaders in still Soviet Kiev where talking about declaring
independence from the Soviet Union, Crimea held a referendum, the first referendum ever
held in the Soviet Union. The referendum asked the question if Crimeans if want to stay under
Kiev’s control, or want to be to restore pre-Khrushev arrangement when Crimea was administered from Moscow. 1.441, or 81.3% of Crimeans came out to vote, and 93.26% of them voted in favor of Moscow. In May 1992, when Ukraine already succeeded
from the USSR, Crimean parliament declared national sovereignty of Crimea, and scheduled
a referendum on that matter to be held in August, but the government in Kiev forced
them to abandon the initiative. Back then, too, armed nationalist sent a “friendship
train” in order to scare Crimeans into abandoning their hopes and dreams.
In March of 1995 the central government of Ukraine unilaterally annulled the Crimean
Constitution. The local government again scheduled a referendum to uphold the old constitution,
but again, under pressure from nationalists and the Kiev government was forced to back
down. Twice, in 1998 and 2006 Crimeans wanted to
hold a referendum on the status of Russian language, and finally in 2006, Crimeans held
an unrecognized referendum about Ukraine joining NATO, and 98.7% of the 900 thousand who showed
up, voted against it. So, once again, as you see, Crimeans have
for decades tried to guarantee their basic national right through democratic referendums,
and for decades Ukraine strong armed them. So, when the thugs who just publicly killed
7 Crimeans, came to power in Kiev, people here knew that they could not count on the
Ukrainian state to fulfill its primary function and protect them, and started to organize
into self-defense units. And, once it was obvious that the state was
not only not going to protect them from murderous nationalists, but that some of those murderous
nationalists became the state, it was time for another referendum – this one to once
and for all democratically decide the future of their region.
And on the 16th of March 2014 over 80% of Crimeans who came to the polls voted for the
Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, to rejoin their ancestral homeland and become
parts of the Russian Federation And Russia, that “evil empire” dared to do the most despotic thing ever – to recognize
a free, democratic referendum! Now, Ukraine and the West often blame Russia
of having neo-imperialist goals. But what is an empire in essence?
An empire is when a state values territories more than the dreams and desires of people
who live in those territories. Empire is saying “I don’t care what 2 million people have
democratically chosen – all I care about is this land”… isn’t that an attempted
“land grab”? a “land grab” from right under the people who live on this land, and
have lived here for generations? Now, lets do a quick mental experiment. Just
for a minute try to forget everything you know about evil Russia and good Ukraine. Forget
even everything I told you today, and just focus on the questions. There is a Country A that: –
• doesn’t allow the people of a certain region to hold referendums,
• doesn’t recognize them when they are democratically held.
• Doesn’t want to give language rights to people who have spoken their language on
their land for centuries. • Has a government that doesn’t punish
thugs for killing “wrong kind of people” • Values territory over the living and breathing
human beings who live there. Country B on the other hand:
• Defend organizers of a democratic referendum from thugs who proved they are willing to
kill those who disagree with them • Recognizes the democratic and peaceful
desires of the overwhelming majority of people • Values the hope, dreams and lives of people,
not viewing them as just squatters on a desired territory.
Now, please answer the question – which one of these countries is a democracy, and which
one of them is an empire? The obvious answer is country A exhibits all the worst traits
of imperial thinking. And if you did really forget everything, you
can now remember it back, and unexpectedly realize that “Country B”, that upheld
the basic democratic rights of people is the supposedly evil Russia, while “Country A”
that values territory over people who live there is the supposedly good Ukraine.
So, if Western press and politicians were honest in their labels, they would be talking
about Ukrainian empire – the wet dream of all Ukrainian nationalists. A dream, that
Crimeans decided to wake up from! Another thing that empires do, by the way, is exploit territories. Here again, Russia
completely doesn’t fit the bill. So let’s take a quick look at the “HORRORS OF OCCUPATION!”
So since Crimea reunited with Russia, local salaries and pensions grew by as much as 100%
percent. Locals are now guaranteed free quality healthcare, and free education anywhere in
Russia, including world famous Moscow and St. Petersburg universities. Hospitals that
were neglected for decades under Ukrainian rule are now receiving modern equipment, and
doctors are getting higher pay. Furthermore, Russia is heavily investing in
local infrastructure building new power plants, roads, bridges, ports and airport.
The goal is to build up local business and infrastructure and create better living conditions
for the locals. That doesn’t sound like occupation at all, does it? Thank you for watching. We hope this video helped you better understand what happend in Crimea 2 years ago and what is going on here now. When we came here, we though we would do just
one video, but there is some much information we want to tell you, that are doing 2 more
episodes from here. The next one will cover why Russian troops ended up being here and we will talk about the famous Budapest memorandum that Russia supposedly broke In Our final video from Crimea we will focus on the Crimean-Tatar, the people that Russia supposedly oppreses and who “want to break free”. So for those upcoming videos, and many others from Crimea, Donbass and other regions, as well as in-depth analysis of what is going Ukraine, please sign up to our channel. Also, please comment, like this video, and of course please share