There are lots of myths floating around about the current situation in Ukraine, and particularly in Crimea. Here are a few I’ve been asked about which I’d like to debunk.
Is the internet still working there? I heard it had been cut off.
Erm, yes. Hence the barrage of blogposts. Apologies to those who really aren’t interested, but I promise I’ll get back to teaching stuff at some point in the future when I run out of things to say about this.
Are the mobile phone networks jammed?
Nope. All working fine as far as I know.
Are there restrictions on cash withdrawals?
The BBC reported that there are rumours of restrictions on withdrawals to 300UAH (about $20), but today I managed to take 1000UAH out of my Ukrainian account with no problem at all.
Having said that, I’ve seen a queue at a cash machine belonging to PrivatBank. This evening, the card readers weren’t working in the supermarket I normally go to, and I think they’re supplied by PrivatBank too, but that could have been a glitch in the system. There’s nothing on the PrivatBank website about any restrictions, as far as I can work out with Google Translate.
Isn’t it dangerous being in Sevastopol right now?
Only if you have no common sense. It’s no more dangerous than anywhere else. I avoid large groups of people, and don’t go out by myself at night, but that’s pretty similar to when I’m abroad anywhere else in the world. Nothing’s really changed that.
My life is the same as it was before, except that now every conversation ends up being about the referendum and what will happen on/after Sunday. Here are a few more webcams showing the city (the middle one is very close to my school).
What about the soldiers? Don’t you feel under threat?
Nope again. I’ve seen less soldiers since they ‘invaded’ than I did in the run up to it. That could of course mean the Russian ones are all busy barricading Ukrainian soldiers in their bases instead of hanging around Sevastopol, but I don’t really know.
My students here were very surprised when I said I was going to Kiev. Since I’ve come back, their first question is normally ‘What was it like there?’ and they are surprised when I say it was fine. Even Maidan was calm when I was there.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned…
The prices are starting to creep up here. I first noticed it with the buses, which went up by 50 kopecks (0.5 UAH) per journey on the 5th March. That may seem like a tiny amount when it’s exchanged, but here it’s quite a rise, increasing prices from 2UAH to 2.50UAH on the cheapest buses. Food prices are rising too, and the medicine that I buy every 25 days has also increased by about 30UAH (up to 657UAH). I’m lucky that I’m on a good salary, but many people were already struggling and this will just make it worse.
Exchange rates are also higher here. According to xe.com, the rate was just over 15UAH to £1 yesterday, but when my friend changed money for me it was 18UAH.
I don’t know if this is only in Sevastopol/Crimea, or if it’s also happening across other parts of Ukraine.
Any more for any more?