Crimean crisis: Generational divide in loyalty to Mother Russia at the Perevalne stand-off

 

Crimea

“There were these young men, sitting in a bar, loud, drinking and laughing. One of them said ‘We are unlucky; if our stupid grandfathers had not won the war we would drinking good German beer instead of this piss’. Then they laughed again, can you imagine?” Nicolai Bogoluyvov shook his head, the recollection from the visit to Kiev still making him visibly angry.

He had served in the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan and had the campaign medals on his dusty brown overcoat to prove it. His father had been wounded fighting Hitler’s troops, an uncle died in the advance to Berlin. Late last night the former artillery sergeant was haunched beside a fire, in the field outside an Ukrainian army base, in support of Russian troops seeking to disarm the garrison inside.

The stand-off at Perevalne had drawn crowds throughout yesterday afternoon from both sides of the bitter divide in Crimea, the majority of whose population, of Russian extraction, are expected to vote in a referendum for secession from Ukraine, paving the way for rule by Moscow.

Heated arguments and a few scuffles had taken place, without interference from the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers outside and inside the gates. Now just a handful of opposing protesters were left, separated by the width of the stretch of road into the base, and very different views on Ukraine’s place in the world.

Those showing solidarity with the soldiers inside were a mixed group of women and men and two priests. The clerics, from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, stressed that they desperately hoped for peace; their voices in prayer floated across to the Russian supporters, almost all of them men. Some of these did not looking much different from rednecks in America, florid faced, tattooed, beer bellies hanging over their jeans and combat trousers. Instead of castigating "pinkoes and commies and the media" their grouse was against "Nazis and fascists and the media".

The complaint here was that the views of those who wanted to unite with Russia, their birthright, were being ignored, while the "criminals of the Maidan", Kiev’s Independence Square, which had been the centre of protests which overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, were being lauded as heroes.

There is, indeed an argument that the views of the Russian speakers on the streets had not been adequately expressed in international press and broadcasting. Some of those beside the fire were too drunk and bellicose to do so last night, but they quietened down when the old soldier Mr Bogoluyvov told them to do so.

As well as what he saw as the treacherous views exemplified by the young men in the Kiev bar, Mr Bogoluyvov was keen to remind the West of what was at stake. “Maybe people in London and Paris have also forgotten about the fight against the Nazis; but you still need Russia for Syria, there’ll be no settlement, peace, in Syria without us.”

Another man, Vladimir Churkin, an engineer, suggested loudly that people should go and join President Assad’s forces to beat al-Qa’ida. “America and Britain made a big mistake supporting them in Afghanistan, they are making a  big mistake supporting them in Syria, and now they are supporting the fascists in the Maidan and the Muslim extremists right here”. The last reference was to the Crimean Tartars, who are vehemently opposed to joining Moscow.

Speaking later, Father Ivan, the parish priest of St Mary Pakrova Savatoi, a church next to the garrison gate, keeping vigil in the Ukrainian "peace camp", stressed there was little evidence of radicalization in the Tartar community: “But it is easy in this atmosphere, as you know, to say your opponents are devils. Then ugly words turn into ugly action, that is what we really fear.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower