An eyewitness describes how a Ukrainian Marine Corps battalion of was blocked in Feodosiya.
“Kommentarii” spoke with a Crimean resident who witnessed the blockade of the Ukrainian Marine Corps unit by Russian soldiers in Feodosiya. The man spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his personal safety.
Why were you near the Marine Corps unit?
— There was news on the local channel and it said on the electronic ticker tape that fighters of the Ukrainian Marine Corps were blocked by the Russian military in Feodosiya. A conflict was possible. They asked journalists to come there. I’m not a journalist but I’m interested in what’s going on. I got dressed and headed there. The military unit is ouskirts of town, not far from the bus station. I was there around midday.What did you see there?
— There was a crowd near the military unit, a civil meeting, maybe 200-300 people. There were up to 10 flags of the party “Russkoe Edinstvo,” one or two of [Russian] tricolors. There were quite a lot of instigators and titushki [Ed. – people paid to start provocations or beat the peaceful activists, a term originating from protests in Kyiv], and the local gopniks. Right near the visitor control center was a group with St. George ribbons.
In front of the military unit there were three Russian BTRs [armored transporters] and one KamAZ [a truck used by the Russian army]. Russian soldiers stood in a single file line, about 40-50 people. There were three officers with them.
There were enough civilians who were just quietly walking, observing and listening. Including me, for example. Maybe these people didn’t like what was going on but they didn’t show their emotions.
How did you find out those were Russian soldiers?
—There were no markings on their uniforms or BTRs. But I had no doubts about their heritage. You can identify Russians by the way they speak, their uniform. However, I’m quite confident they belonged to the Russian Black Sea Fleet that were earlier dislocated in Sevastopol, Crimea.
Did you talk to the soldiers?
— No, I didn’t like what was going on. Besides, there were many titushki walking here and there and they behaved aggressively. They were so emotionally charged. They were screaming the slogans, harassing people who were trying to video record the soldiers closely. They almost beat the TV crew. They were screaming at them “Get out to your Kiev! Fascists! Banderovtsi! [an offensive nickname for people from Western Ukraine based on the last name of activist Stepan Bandera, 1941].” The other instigators were acting out as well. I’d think there were some non-local people among them as I saw on the news, about Russian buses who brought these people.
It was obvious that titushki, instigators, and Russian military were acting according to the same plan. It looked very similar to how titushki acted in coordination with the police forces during the latest events in Kyiv.
How did the Ukrainian Marines act?
— I didn’t see them. From what I saw the Russians were not trying to attack the military unit or pressure Ukrainians. I think the Ukrainians were more or less OK, they had enough food. Later I heard on the news they were encouraged to “give up.” The marines, of course, didn’t [give up]. Generally this looked more like psychological pressure, a provocation.
What was the attitude of the Russian military?
— It’s young guys, short-term hires. Their attitude was quite good-natured. You could tell by their facial expressions that they didn’t like all of it. They understand they’re getting in some kind of trouble, that they’re being drawn into something shitty.
How is Feodosiya now? What do the city residents and your friends think?
— There are 200-300 instigators in the city, and pro-Russian activists. But they don’t belong to the local elite. Most of the people don’t need this “war” started by Russia. They have families, children. Most ordinary Crimeans are very scared by what is happening.
Translated by Mariya Shtangrat, reviewed by Anonymous