I left the Occupied Territory of Crimea to begin a journey of witnessing people getting hurt. It started with my taxi ride to the train station. My taxi driver, a Tatar man in his fifties, lamented how Russia had already destroyed three mosques, and that the only school in Crimea teaching Ukrainian was shut down. The driver was a doctor, but he was recently fired for not prescribing drugs forced upon him by the new Russian hospital chiefs.
When reaching the train station checkpoint in North Crimea, Russian military began their work to
humiliate. They had little interest that I was an American, and they processed my passport as smoothly as any other place I have been in the world. But, these solders clearly wanted to go out of their way to make things difficult for Ukrainians. The solder’s excessive checking of documents and aggressive questioning could only be a pretense to make clear that Crimea was now part of Russia.
How demoralizing this seemed for my train mates. Once the soldiers were gone, people just stood in the alley way processing what had just happened. People were clearly upset, speaking only loud enough not to draw attention.
I got to Kiev to call my fiancé, but her telephone did not work. It turns out that very day men with guns took over the operations center for Kyivstar – the last Ukrainian mobile provider operating in Crimea. Russians had completed the communications break with Ukraine.
To witness this injury saddens me immensely. These actions by Russian authorities hurt, belittle, confuse, destabilize and scare Ukrainians. Does anyone in Russia see and feel the pain that is being inflicted?