Crimea memo reveals Moscow’s unease


Crimea, More

Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Edited by: Melodia Kouklewsky

It turns out that the Russian government is realizing there are pitfalls associated with the annexation of someone else’s land. Otherwise if would not be so nervous about each new posting on the Internet.

(Public Control, a Moscow-based consumer rights society, is facing possible prosecution over its warning to Russian tourists that trips undertaken without Ukrainian permission may have legal ramifications since Crimea is considered “occupied territory” — Ed.)

The fact that the president of the Russian Federation himself would reflect on a certain memo for Russian tourists planning to visit Crimea, that Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office would launch a criminal investigation, and that Roskomnadzor (Russia’s federal media and communications oversight agency — Ed.) would shut down the website, is not something I could have imagined even in my wildest dreams. I could not imagine the level of fear and doubt in themselves and in their own country demonstrated by all these people  and institutions.

Well, imagine that you are absolutely convinced of the legality of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the absence of any legal consequences today as well as political consequences tomorrow. Now, say someone suddenly posts a notice online about possible political consequences. Would you pay attention to this document? Even if someone posts it? What difference does it make?

The legal status of North Cyprus has remained uncertain for more than 40 years already. All this time tourists have been traveling there, buying property, and entering into other agreements. All this time various institutions have been warning the citizens of various countries about the legal consequences of their actions. The Republic of Cyprus allows access to the territory of Northern Cyprus only through its own checkpoints. Violators may be denied entry to Cyprus. The real estate transactions are very questionable, and no one know what situations might become problematic should the Cyprus conflict be settled. So what? Do you really think that the president of Turkey reacts each time similar information appears? Not at all. The various alternative options for settling the Cyprus question are discussed in Turkey, and it appears that supporters of the island’s unification may even enter the Turkish parliament. The point is that Turkey’s influence in the world is not being demonstrated by Cyprus. In fact, Cyprus is more of an impediment to the strengthening of this influence. Turkey is a country of successful economic reforms. And this is of primary importance.

But for Putin and his Russia the main thing is Crimea. As it turns out, the Russian government itself understands all the pitfalls associated with the annexation of someone else’s land. Otherwise it would not be so nervous about each posting on the Internet. But Putin cannot give up Crimea because then his stay in prison loses all meaning.

As described in the good old fairy tales, our chap breaks a mirror that depicts the real state of affairs. The fact that in our time the Internet has become this mirror does not change matters much.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Edited by: Melodia Kouklewsky
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