War and peace in Crimean schools: collision of views

Blogs, Opinion

конфликтWe got used to think in terms of black and white. For example, let us consider refugees from the Donbass. If they support Ukraine, they come to Ukraine. If they support Russia, the DNR and the LNR, then they go to Russia, including to Crimea. However, there are unusual situations.


A rather big amount of refugees came to my resort town last year. I don’t remember when the first ones appeared, but the peak occurred in summer. The tourist season was unsuccessful, there were few tourists, but it was possible to meet people from the East of Ukraine almost in every house. At first, local residents pitied them and allowed to live in their houses for free, some people even shared food with them. Indignations started later. Some of the entrants happened to be rather impudent and did not mind to appeal to sympathy of the locals turning from asking to demanding, indicating with their behavior that everyone has to help them because of their status. They were not in a hurry to look for a job. What kind of job can there be in a resort town? There were vacancies only for hotel cleaners and sellers. They didn’t like that kind of job, and even if they found something more serious like an administrators of hotels, then the locals weren’t happy. It is because refugees “came here in numbers” and occupied working places that were in short supply.

Most of the refugees didn’t stay for long and had gone further searching for better life. There were the ones who had returned. For example, one guy from Lugansk.  He was young, approximately 18 years old. He came together with his family, spent summer in our place, and then left. As it turned out, he volunteered for the DNR militia troops. Now he posts pictures of himself wearing camouflage with assault rifle and hand grenades. He writes that Ukrainian patriots are rotten-hearted, and that he protects his house and parents at the bidding of the heart. By the way, in his profile in the social network “Vkontakte” there is the “Cinema poster of Lugansk” group with a userpic in colors of Ukrainian flag among interesting page bookmarks together with the “Novorossia” group. It is amusing. There also was a guy who wasn’t content neither by Ukraine nor Russia. He made declarations of love to the LNR. He lives and studies there now. However, there are the ones who settled down in our town. They came together with their whole families; they rent apartments for long time and even buy houses. Their children go to my school. At the present, there is a refugee in every form.

So, let’s come back to the unusual cases. There is one girl in the high school, she moved together with parents a year ago. They escaped from the war that had come to their town and came exactly here, because they have someone they could stay at (her grandmother lives here).  However, this girl loves Ukraine and waits when “those boneheads calm down” and she will be able to return to her native Gorlovka. It is rather dangerous to express such oppositional views. Therefore, she does not express them. She holds her tongue looking at photos of classmates with Mikhail Porechenkov and journalists of “Russia-24”, leaves no comments to reposts of such communities as “Novorossia”, “Self-defense of Gorlovka” and “Militia of Donbass”. By the way, mostly boys are subscribed for such groups. Girls worry about pressing problems and do not want to get into political arguments.

Arguments do happen. Even at the school, during classes with the participation of teachers. There was a case when one bold spirit started to hound a teacher of the Ukrainian language: like why do we have to learn this language, we are in Russia now, we won’t need it and at all, Ukraine started the civil war. The teacher tried to avoid the conflict, the bold spirit continued, the class was watching with interest. When the teacher was taken bad, a boy appeared that decided to protect her. I don’t even know what that boy’s position was, but after that, fans of Russia had beaten him wholeheartedly. The teacher who saw her guild in his bruises asked him not to do so again, but to endure and to hold his tongue.

Sometimes at nights in the Russian Crimea, in my town it is possible to hear “Glory Ukraine!” shouted in immature teenager’s voice or see the same kind of lettering on a wall in a solitary place. We cohabit somehow. We try not to talk about policy and about all those disputable and obvious things. But when we talk, we try to do it without aggression. Because it is possible to wave tricoloured flag and shout “Krym nash!” during the Russian spring and then fall in love with a Lvovian, marry him and move to  very same Western Ukraine. Well, it is impossible, but it does happen. There are no hostilities here, but we feel the war. There is the war in television, but it is languorous summer here and it is needed to live further together with the ones who do not think the same way we do.


Nata Smirnova, specially for “Pod Pricelom”


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