Programmer from the Crimea – about life in the occupation, pro-Russian propaganda and moving to Kiev.
Vladimir Zhavoronkov – a developer from Sevastopol, in March this year moved to live and work in Kiev. According to him, about half of the 2,000 IT specialists have already left the Crimea.
In an interview for DOU.ua, Vladimir told about what has changed on the peninsula since joining Russia, how “conscious separatists” circumvent sanctions and what should happen so that pro-Russian Crimeans again want to be friends with Ukrainians.
Vladimir, in March of this year you moved from Sevastopol to Kiev. Was it difficult to make such a decision?
– The decision was easy. The year of occupation was rich in negative: earnings fell, society changed dramatically, and I ceased to consider this region of my own as promising. In addition, I received a good offer from the employer. Constraints (their homes, children, relatives) were not. Plus there is experience of such crossings.
In Kiev, leaving, already having on hand job offer, well, and hoping for help with relocation. With the search for housing there were some problems, but the employer did an excellent job.
Before that, in Sevastopol, I worked in a telecom, in a large and well-built company, focused on business in the Crimea. The company has stood the transition period, and now at a good level.
Why did they choose mainland Ukraine?
– The choice was modest, from two points.
For more than ten years I lived in St. Petersburg, where I studied and started working in the industry. This is the only option that was considered in Russia. But still I decided that this is not the best choice, especially in the long run – this society supports the authoritarian regime with all its crises. Potential advantages were only in the habit and a large number of friends.
In the mainland, Ukraine was only passing through. Attracted that there is very well developed outsourcing, there is a demand for technologies in which the success of the relative availability of goods and services. There are many problems ahead of the country, but it is moving in the right direction.
How was the move? Were there any problems when crossing the border?
– With the law, my wife and I had no serious problems, everything is legal. Therefore, there were at least a minimum of questions.
I got on a passing car, the driver found in the group “Chongar”. I took one correct decision, and as a result everything turned out to be easy and simple. Border control and crossing of both checkpoints took 45 minutes. Russian customs officers and their Ukrainian counterparts looked at the suitcase, did not fuck hard. At the Ukrainian block post was passport control (Ukrainian passport, issued in the Crimea), very briefly said about the purpose of the visit (eating live / work) and where I’m going. I left early in the evening and was in Kiev late at night.
You can get and in a different way. Trains are available only outside the Crimea. The buses would have to go with transfers: buy a bus ticket and get to the Russian block-post, walk to the Ukrainian checkpoint on foot, get on another bus (ticket one, bus two) and get to the final point of the trip. The advantage of this solution is in cheapness, while a significant loss in the comfort and duration of the trip.
Comedy story happened to my pets, cats. I had to make them veterinary passports with photos. In every major city there is a sanitary inspection that issues a permit for the export of animals. This is important to know, in advance to obtain a certificate of health from the veterinarian, permission to export, notify the customs when crossing the border. For each particular animal, I advise you to consult a veterinarian or the inspectorate yourself.
How did your family and colleagues react to your decision to move?
– Colleagues were very surprised. The team is friendly, we worked together for four years. For them, this news was a complete surprise, could not believe in the seriousness of what was happening. The management was shocked, – the tasks are outlined for years ahead. But colleagues realized that it’s impossible to influence the situation, and as a result, we parted well.
Relatives thought that I was joking, and acted in their usual manner: first discouraged and even frightened (watch Russian TV channels). When they realized that everything was serious, they began to help.
And the wife is very happy. She also works in IT, and for her the big city opens new prospects. In addition, the problems with the legislation of the Russian Federation have disappeared. Let me remind you that if Putin came to Crimea “to save the Russians”, then only those who have a Crimean residence permit. My wife is registered in one of the cities of the mainland Ukraine, so the “green men” did not “protect” her. For several months they felt hostage, stood in terrible queues in the offices of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation and other state. to obtain a RWP – a temporary residence permit.
What are the moods in the Crimea now?
– The mood is very different. Depends on the degree of exposure to propaganda and high or low base (property, savings, work, profession), with which “new Russians” started. The safest stock of optimism is greater.
Many believed that it was important to survive the first months, and then life would be fine. But here the transition period is over – and the local population is plunged into a serious crisis, joining in this to the rest of the Russians.
– Pensioners and state employees have increased their payments, but the prices have soared, which completely leveled this increase. Cheap and high-quality Ukrainian food is now gone, there is expensive Ukrainian and Russian. Expensive rental housing, transportation, utilities.
How much are the Crimeans happy with joining the Russian Federation?
– There were a lot of propaganda, photographed the most interesting samples. These materials described fairy-tale life in Russia, a lot of lies: about the level of wages, completely free and high-tech medicine, the mythical advantages of insurance medicine, the reduction of pensions for Ukrainians. But I lived there and know about the situation.
Scared of Nazism, in the style of “the great Ukrainian people allowed. ”
When pro-Russian rallies and the elections of the people’s mayor began in Sevastopol, the overwhelming majority of the townspeople did not support them (at least, they did not support it with their presence). The streets were mostly pensioners, unemployed, urban crazy. I watched these events remotely, via web cameras. At that time, like many Sevastopolites, he continued to work. Therefore, many now justify themselves for a referendum: nothing depends on us, you know what kind of elections in the Russian Federation, there are always 146%.
Someone has already managed to sober up, went through severe trials: he felt how much “Great Russia” depends on imports, saw empty shelves in shops, was left without work, defended in endless queues for all possible information, drove along the roads from which the asphalt was removed in autumn , and realized that the cold will pass much earlier than he will get to see a doctor. Such people are now discussing a new referendum – they want to go back.
Someone else is trying to find cause for joy. For example, I bought a car in the Krasnodar Territory or thought that gasoline was really cheap. A few of my friends got Russian passports and went to work in the Russian Federation – now they do not need to hide from the FMS of the Russian Federation. In the rest the signboards on state were replaced. institutions and flags.
And what about Ukraine?
– From the side of power pro-Ukrainian actions were brutally suppressed by Cossacks and bearded Serbs. They claimed that they acted according to the laws of wartime and would punish crimes and extremism with the utmost severity. Raised rallies in Kerch and Sevastopol (at the monument of T. Shevchenko) – there are video recordings, kidnapped and killed activists, there were about a hundred attacks on journalists. In some stores, Ukrainian attributes are still sold, but few will risk taking advantage of it.
Is the topic of moving among Crimean IT specialists urgent?
– IT people are set with healthy skepticism.
Yes, the topic of moving is relevant. I seem to have lingered a little on the peninsula, and the peak of the relocations was left behind. It is estimated that about half of the 2,000 IT professionals have already left. In the first place, the elite of the local community, midlins and signors left the Crimea. My friends left for Lviv and Odessa. In the autumn, when the issue of legalization in the Russian Federation (citizenship, passport, medical insurance, car documents) arose, they decided that they did not need these problems. Another important reason is loans issued by Ukrainian banks.
Those who remain on the peninsula are quite prosperous, most work as freelancers or in small studios.
How much do they interfere with the work of the sanction?
– They interfere, and destructively compete with the repressive apparatus of the RF itself. Surely many have heard that in the Russian Federation they block access to github and many other resources. To issue a business on the mainland (Russia or Ukraine – which is more convenient) and then hide behind the VPN is not a problem. It is difficult with money entry / withdrawal.
Last summer, SoftServe left Sevastopol, taking with them all the volunteers. Only the sign remained, and under it – the company that became the successor. In this firm, programmers (among them one of my friends) still work, there are orders, only money does not pay for many months.
Difficulties with banks are still actual. Banks under sanctions or hide behind their “daughters” (there are ATMs, but officially they are installed in Krasnodar). There are problems with access to software updates, bank accounts and payment systems, and other online services. You have to hide IP or look for intermediaries.
Some conscious separatists made a deal with their conscience: editing the properties of their account, they choose the “Ukraine” item to gain access to the content.
Many IT companies left the Crimea. Where did the dismissed specialists leave? Have new companies from the Russian Federation appeared on the market?
– Many companies left together with the staff. It is possible to work remotely. The remaining specialists occupy vacant positions that appeared after a mass outflow.
In the local labor market, there appeared several questionable firms working for the state. structure. They recruit people with experience in the enterprise (Naumen is one of these). Remained Simferopol Yandex. The “daughters” of Russian telecoms have come in. Most likely, they expect to earn on fans of the tricolor flag and those who are strongly attached to the peninsula.
How do you identify yourself? As a Ukrainian or as a Russian?
– I am Russian in many generations, if I discuss nationality. What it means to be Russian or Ukrainian – I do not know, is far from all this. Russian – native, Ukrainian learned in the most ordinary school. If we talk about sympathies, then they are on the side of Ukraine, sharply felt it a year ago.
Have you left Sevastopol for good or are you allowed to return?
– Most likely, I will not return – I very much hope for it. A lot of subjective reasons. I do not see good prospects there, only negative.
How do you see the future of relations between Ukraine and the Crimea?
– Many problems could not be solved, but smooth. But this is in the past. The authorities did not want to give explanations to society, to conduct a dialogue, to educate. This was evident when EuroMaidan began: many did not know what integration with the EU was. In the Crimea there was a panic, people were not told what exactly was happening. There was no one to extinguish this panic, odious persons came to power, it was an excellent ground for separatism.
Now the government has stopped dialogue with the Crimeans. Interested persons can read DOU (through anonymizers), watch espressoTV or hromadskeTV. All these are independent sources, not state ones. Moreover, there are problems: for example, I could not take out honestly earned money (limit the amount in Russian currency), raises questions about the termination of the railway communication.
I see relations as pragmatic. It is necessary to file lawsuits against the Russian Federation. It seems that Crimeans are very mercantile. When the standard of living of Ukrainians (purchasing power, infrastructure, public institutions and civil liberties) will be high enough, the Crimeans will want to be friends with all. Probably, by that time the power of the Russian Federation will weaken, the Crimean people will seek broad autonomy. There is something to work on.
Pavel Felgenhauer: It will be approximately the same as in South Ossetia and Abkhazia: the population, as a result of their separation and such “joining” to Russia since 1991, has decreased three-fold. In Crimea, obviously, too, there will be a significant reduction in the population. Old people will die – in Russia people do not live very long, we have a lot of men die by the age of 60. And he who at least knows how to do something, will run away from there. There will not be any work, because the economy is not functioning, the peninsula is blockaded. I undertake to predict that within 5 years the population of the Crimea will decrease by two times.
. also . there is no water on the peninsula, because “there is a high probability of salinization of artesian horizons, where water is now taken to replace water from the Dnieper.
Programmer from the Crimea – about life in the occupation, pro-Russian propaganda and moving to Kiev.