For those of you who have seen Sevastopol in the news over the last 24 hours, and have seen the protests, I’d like to let you know my perspective.
If I hadn’t had messages from people, social media, internet news, and chats with the people I worked with, I would have had no idea they were happening. There are people in one square in the centre, but my friend, who lives in another of the squares there, said he hasn’t seen any sign of the protests either. So while the photos may seem very dramatic, in most of Sevastopol daily life is continuing.
People are, however, worried about the new government not being any better than the old one, and about the potentially fascist/anti-semitic (mostly in the form of the extreme right-wing Svoboda party) elements of the opposition, who now have the chance for power.
The change in the law affecting the use of Russian seems like the worst move of the government so far. It may seem like a minor thing from outside the country, but from inside, I feel like it was a very stupid alteration. I have no idea what prompted it, unless the powers that be were trying to find a sure-fire to rile up the substantial Russian-speaking population in the country. Linguistic politics are never a good idea – it is definitely an area where I think governments should just let people continue speaking their language of choice, since they will anyway.
There is an air of nervousness here, as noone knows what will happen next. Rest assured that if I think I will be in danger, I will get out, but my friends here do not have that liberty. I really enjoy living in Sevastopol, and would like to be able to live here for a long time to come. I really hope the political situation doesn’t force me to change that plan, and even more, that it doesn’t cause more violence and upset to a place where most people just want to get on with their lives. Sevastopol is a beautiful place, which has seen more conflict in its 230 years than any city deserves. I hope that this is not the start of more.
(I originally wrote this as a facebook status update, but it’s so long, it’s probably better as a blogpost. Disclaimer: I have no political background, and everything I know about Ukrainian politics, I’ve learnt since I moved to Sevaeetopol in September, and most of that in the last week. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 7 days since this whole thing started. I hope that this time next week I’ll be saying it’s hard to believe that there was this much uncertainty 7 days ago…)