In spring 2014 all eyes were on Crimea. 25 years after the collapse of USSR once more the moldy odor of Cold War was lying in the air. The peninsula in the northern Black Sea found itself in the spotlight of the global stage, with Vladimir Putin as the main actor. The Ukrainian territory was annexed by russian troops after pro-european protestors at Kievs Maidan Square got rid of Wiktor Janukowytsch's government. A referendum, closely accompanied by Kremlins PR and propaganda divisions was promptly held to legitimate the Crimean annexation.
Lots of ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tartars boycotted the referendum, as Russian military presence and massive propaganda already made clear what outcome was to expect.
„From now on and for all times Crimea will be Russian"
(Empress Katharina II., 1783)

Contemporary russian propaganda often refers to the turbulent history of Crimea and its importance to the russian cultural heritage.

In 1783 field marshal Potjomkin defeated Ottoman troups. Russian empress Katharina II. announced Crimea will be Russian „from now on and for all times". This narrative that Crimea is genuinely Russian lives on till the presence. Between 1942 and 1944 Crimea was annexed by Nazi-Germany. This theme is widespread in todays Russian propaganda as well. Maidan Protestors were put on the same level as the Nazis back then. In Sovjet times the Crimea was pictured as the embodiement of communist „paradise": Charming beaches, leisure time, happy people and no worries. After the collapse of USSR and Crimea becoming part of Ukraine many things stayed the same. In many minds the USSR is still living on.

"… work to bring Crimea back into Russia"
(Vladimir Putin, 2014)

Although it was a very different time back then, Vladimir Putin refers to Empress Katharina II: She announced that Crimea will be part of Russia forever - and he is now only finishing her work. At least that's how the propaganda works.

According to the Russian-run census in 2014 the ethnic fragmentation dramatically changed since the census of 2001. While the Russians nearly stayed the same, more than 200.000 Ukrainians had already left the country. Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists started to fight against the Russian annexation: In November 2015 they did an energy blockade and - in the end - they want to do a sea blockade to completely isolate the annexed territory. Russia now wants to invest more than $3 billion to build a bridge to Crimea. So the fight for Crimea haven't come to an end yet.
"The Soviet and Russian propaganda is almost the same things..."
Anastasia, ex-citizen of Crimea

Over two million Crimeans are facing a future, which is still unwritten.
The society is polarized: Especially the elderly population ist hoping for a brighter future under Russia's rule. But the young and pro-european people dont want to exhume Soviet nostalgia and blind obedience to a great nations leader. So for many of them and their families Crimea can´t offer a livable future and migration is the answer.
We collected the stories of three young people, who left Crimea during the past years and started a new life in Lviv in western Ukraine.
He was born in village near Djancoy in Crimea in 1980. Studied on the Faculty of English Language and Literature. His family doesn't appreciate his position and still lives in Crimea. Now he works as freelance translator in Lviv.
She born in Simferopol in 1985.
With her husband she decided to leave Crimea after the peninsula was finally annexed. They refused the Crimean citizenship. Now she lives in Lviv and work in the jewelry shop "Maya Showroom".

She was born in Simferopol in 1984. Studied there on Cultural Studies department up to 2007. Now she works in the Urban Library in Lviv.

"The New Year, the New Life"
#story of the family
Anastasia`s and Maryna`s mother left the Crimea a month ago. She was a teacher in the Crimea State Medical University. Now she is working in the Medical college in Lviv. She starts her new life.

The two sisters Anastasia and Maryna, their mother and Maryna`s husband Volodymyr found a new home in Lviv. Over the years they left the place were they were born, grew up, went to school and spent their childhood and youth. They left their old life. They left the Crimea. It was not an easy decision. Soviet nostalgia appears to suit elder people, but young people leave.
After the annexation and the ongoing propaganda the situation is getting worse.
During the interviews we realized that Maryna and Volodymyr have already lost their hope to come back home.
On the contrary Anastasia hopes one day the Crimea will become her home again.


This project was realized during one week in Lviv as a part of the
International School of Multimedia Journalism,
a collaboration between the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv
and the FH Wien University of Applied Sciences of WKW in Vienna.

Team members:
Olexandra Davydenko
Oksana Azhniuk
Klemens Herzog
Dominik Leitner

Dmytro Konovalov

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