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Crimean Residents Afraid Of The Future

Olga Grigoryants |
March 24, 2014 | 1:17 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Someone installed a a Russian banner by the entrance of the building of the Ukrainian State Security service/George Georgiev
Someone installed a a Russian banner by the entrance of the building of the Ukrainian State Security service/George Georgiev
As some residents celebrate the recent annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation, complete with festivities and concerts, others say they anticipate a fearful future.  

Crimean residents lined up in front of government centers last week to receive Russian passports while some customers took pictures of the line to document the “historic” moment. Crimean residents will be allowed to have both Ukrainian and Russian citizenship, NTV reported.

Still, other residents say they’re anxious about their futures. 

“We don’t know what is going to happen us, to our families and houses,” said Dmitriy Belotserkovets, the leader of the youth wing of “Udar,” an opposition party led by Vitaly Klichko. 

Belotserkovets who was recently chased down and beaten by members of pro-Russian forces during the peaceful demonstration in Sevastopol, Crimea, said he is afraid to remain in his hometown. In recent weeks pro-Russian forces have attacked many members of the opposition, including himself, according to Belotserkovets. 

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On March 9, Belotserkovets and other activists organized a peaceful demonstration by the monument to Taras Shevchenko, a Ukrainian poet famous for his opposition to Tsarist Russia, complete with recitations of his poems. The demonstration attracted many women and families with children. 

A group of armed men interrupted the meeting by walking towards a group women, according to Belotserkovets. As the male demonstrators tried to block their way, the tension escalated. Someone spread the tear gas and people started running away.

Belotserkovets ran to the parking lot when he noticed a group of armed men following him. After a short car chase, Belotserkovets got pulled out of his car and beaten in the back and legs.

He left Sevastopol for Kiev two days later. His mother who remains in the city, stays locked at her apartment for days, afraid even to go buy groceries. 

“The difference between Kiev and Sevastopol is that during Maidan, they attacked people with cudgels, and now they go against us with arms,” Belotserkovets said. 

 Two other members of the Udar’s party were kidnapped. Belotserkovets said several members of his party, including women, were attacked at their apartments. An apartment of Belotserkovets’ colleague Evgeniy Melnichuk was stormed by a group of masked man of the Armed Forces. 

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Melnichuk, an opposition activist and father of four said men in masks dragged him into the car, held and beaten him at the unknown location. After his release, Melnichuk posted a picture of his apartment on Facebook and Youtube calling the storm a “pogrom.”   

“They took everything valuable: passport, drivers license, documents on car, phones and a family photo album,” Melnichuk wrote. “I can’t imagine what they were looking for.” 

A woman commented on the post that her friend, a Melnichuk’s neighbor, witnessed the attack and tried calling the police, but no one arrived.  

“They use spying, propaganda and repression- classic Soviet methods to demolish the opposition,” Belotserkovets said. “They do it so everyone can see it. They want to scare people.” 

It’s not the first time the opposition activists were registered as missing; Oleksandr Turchynov, an acting president of Ukraine, made an ultimatum to self-proclaimed authorities of Crimea on Wednesday to release all the hostages held by pro-Russian forces, according to Ukrainian Pravda.

Activists of Automaidan, the movement that demands the resignation of Victor Yanukovych, a Ukrainian president, organized several protests across the country, demanding to release people kidnapped in Crimea.

ALSO READ: Russia Allows International Monitors While Storming Crimea

"The government will take adequate steps unless all provocations against Ukrainian servicemen end, and Admiral Hayduk and other hostages - both military and civilian - are freed," Turchynov said.

Belotserkovets said he is not losing his hope to bring justice in Crimea.  

“They took away my home by force,” he said. “But we’ll continue resisting.” 

Contact Staff Reporter Olga Grigoryants here.



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