Tags: Russia | Crimea

Russian Rule Brings Shortages, Chaos and Thuggery to Crimea

Image: Russian Rule Brings Shortages, Chaos and Thuggery to Crimea
A shop assistant serves behind the counter at a bookstore in Simferopol.

By    |   Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 11:05 AM

One month after Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, residents of the Black Sea peninsula find themselves living in a state of continual chaos.

Government agencies have stopped functioning,  court cases are postponed indefinitely, mail delivery has been interrupted, and most land registration offices and banks have been closed, The New York Times reported.

Amid the turmoil, McDonald's announced the temporary closure of its three restaurants in Crimea. Metro, a large German supermarket chain, also shuttered its doors. Flight connections have been cut off, except to Russia.

Previously routine events such as obtaining passports and residency permits now may require applicants to stand in line for days on end.

Roman Nikolayev, 54, wants his daughter and granddaughter, newly arrived from Ukraine, to become legal residents of Crimea. Standing outside an office in the city of Simferopol – where Russian bureaucrats have replaced Ukrainian ones in handling applications for residency permits and passports – Nikolayev said he hoped to eventually make it inside the building to inquire about the application process.

But that may not occur very soon, because he is number 4,475 on the passport waiting list and at most only 200 people a day make it inside to ask their questions. The Russians set up “hotlines” to respond to inquiries, but no one answers the phone, Nikolayev added.

“Before, we had a pretty well-organized country. Life was smooth,” he said. “Then, within a space of two weeks, one country became another.” Using the Russian word for bordello, Nikolayev described the current situation as “a mess.”

Adding to Crimea’s woes, Russia announced it had barred four Ukrainian banks from operating in Crimea, as Moscow continues its effort to integrate the peninsula with Russia.

Edward A. Fyodorov, who operates a fleet of 20 refrigerated trucks that bring food to local restaurants and supermarkets, said his business is off by 90 percent. He told the Times he has been searching for Russian suppliers. But products cost 70 percent more, and transportation is complicated by the fact that Crimea does not have a land border with Russia.

 “It is impossible to make any plans or forecasts,” Fyodorov said, echoing a complaint frequently heard these days in Crimea. Even if he were able to find work, the bank closures make payment impossible, he added.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church claimed that Russian priests and armed supporters threatened to confiscate churches in at least two villages. An archbishop said his priests sent their most valuable religious icons along with their families to the Ukrainian mainland for their safety.

The new Moscow-controlled Crimean regime is dismissive about such concerns. Yelena Yurchenko, the Crimean minister for tourism and resorts, termed them “nonsense.”

Yurchenko, daughter of a Soviet admiral who retired in Crimea, said the changes underway might prove difficult “for the lazy people who do not want to make progress.”

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Europe
One month after Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea, residents of the Black Sea peninsula find themselves living in a state of continual chaos.
Russia, Crimea
492
2014-05-23
Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 11:05 AM
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