Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

They’re everywhere. Every set of billboards between my flat and the school I work at has at least one of them. And I can see one from my bedroom window:

Fascism or Russia

On the 16th March we choose, …or…

Thankfully it doesn’t fill my window anywhere near this much. It’s the one I dislike the most, although it’s a close-run thing.

I took all of the following photos during a 20-minute walk from my flat.

This one started appearing in a couple of places about three weeks ago, but there are more of them now. As far as I know, the painting is from the ‘Defence of Sevastopol‘ during the Second World War. The photo on the right shows red and black flags, which are considered fascist by many here.

Defend Sevastopol

‘Defend Sevastopol’

Do not be afraid

Referendum – 16th March. Do not be afraid. Change for the better.


16 March – referendum. Spring. Sevastopol – Russia.

Home, to Russia

16 March. Home, to Russia. (The text on the right is the two referendum questions, with a tick in the ‘Russia’ box)

There are four billboards about the referendum in this photo, although you might have to look closely to spot them all:

Four referendum billboards

There are also the two billboards I’ve already shared:

'Stop fascism' billboard

‘Stop fascism’, ‘Everyone go to the referendum’, ‘Pravy Sektor’ (crossed out)

16 March billboard

The least militaristic of the billboards here: ’16th March: We choose our future!’ (although the colours are still those of Russia…)

There is another one which I haven’t managed to get a photo of yet, but the BBC have, showing marching feet and the slogan ‘Vote in the referendum to stop fascism’.

(Update: I photographed it a couple of days later. Here it is.)

Fascism will not pass!

Fascism will not pass! Everyone to the referendum.

The same BBC article describes the range of ways in which Crimeans are being urged to vote for Russia. My students have commented on the fact that there are now no (or only one – it depends who you talk to) Ukrainian language TV stations being broadcast in Sevastopol.

The large TV screen in the photo below shows video advertising accompanied by music. It’s just around the corner from my flat. When I walked past there was a series of slogans like ‘Our history’, ‘Our heroes’, ‘Our city’, all accompanied by pictures, with the phrase ‘Все на референдум’, loosely translated as ‘Everyone to the referendum’, at the end.

TV screen

And then there’s the graffiti:

Crimea - Russia

Crimea – Russia

As I said yesterday, there is no pro-Ukrainian advertising at all. The Moscow Times had this to say:

In a distorted local propaganda campaign, the referendum is often presented to Crimeans as a choice between securing peace, prosperity and security as a Russian protectorate, or being subject to discrimination and violence under a “fascist Ukraine.”

So it seems pretty much a given that this time in four days I’ll be living in Russia. Bridget Kendall, from the BBC, shows how the map of Ukraine has changed over time, and it looks like it’ll change again soon.

Moscow is apparently already sending humanitarian aid to the city of Sevastopol, although their definition of humanitarian aid differs somewhat from what I always thought it was. Hospital supplies, fair enough, but computer equipment for schools and bonuses for war veterans sound slightly suspicious to me.

On a side note, I’ve noticed that the range of flags which used to adorn bus drivers’ dashboards have largely disappeared. A month or so ago, you could see Russian, Ukrainian, Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol, and Mercedes Benz (!) flags in various combinations, including the Russian and Ukrainian flag side by side on the same dashboard. I can only remember seeing a couple of Sevastopol banners (230 years of the city) in the past three weeks, although I’ve noticed more Russian flags appearing in cars instead.

The BBC’s Christian Fraser interviewed some Crimeans (in Simferopol I think) about their views of the future. The generation gap is visible again. He also talked about what Ukraine has threatened to do, in terms of cutting off food and fuel supplies. As we were saying today at school, that’s hardly likely to encourage people to vote to stay part of Ukraine.

The Moscow Times has also talked about how the residents of Crimea see the future. I’ll leave you with the final two lines, which are particularly telling:

While the situation in Crimea is often represented in clear-cut, unequivocal terms, people living on the peninsula seem to be more perplexed than anything else.

“Many people are in favor of Russia, many are against it, but most do not even understand what is going on,” Meshkov said.

Update: 19th March 2014

Today I went to Yalta, and saw three more referendum billboards which we didn’t have in Sevastopol/I missed – the ones I shared before are still all over Sevastopol, although they’re gradually starting to disappear.

16 March - historic chance!

16 March – historic chance!
Literally: ‘Error will not forgive any ancestors or descendants’
‘A mistake will not be forgiven by (y)our ancestors or descendants’
The ribbon is the St. George Ribbon

Together with Russia! 16 March - refendum

Together with Russia! 16 March – refendum


16.03.2014 – everyone to the referendum

Comments on: "Crimean referendum billboards" (5)

  1. said:

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I hope to see more of your posts as the situation unpacks. Good luck and let us know if you need food parcels!


  2. Sandy, Sandy – I came looking for your post about podcasts and found you in the Crimea. I hadn’t made the link. We were just talking about it at lunchtime, with my friend calling “mis-information” – so I’ll send it to her … thanks loads


  3. […] a large proportion of the Crimean population have been cut out of the argument completely and propaganda has been used to confuse people (not saying that it has changed their minds, but it doesn’t […]


  4. […] very helpful with this. No idea who’s paying for them all, but on the plus side a lot of the referendum ones seem to have disappeared, although unfortunately not the one I can see from my window. I wonder how […]


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