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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

In Crimea, Anti-Russian Actions Multiply As Ukraine's Counteroffensive Looms

Tamila Tasheva, the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, issues an appeal on the eve of Kyiv's counter-offensive to seize this moment in history — but do so carefully.

Photo of police officer in Crimea

A police officer in Crimea

Tamila Tasheva

KYIV — The territory of Crimea, occupied since 2014, is currently divided into two poles: on one side are the occupiers and collaborators starting to panic as a major counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army looms; on the other side are our citizens, awaiting liberation and trying to support their Ukrainian state in every way possible.

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So, alongside the kilometer-long trenches and concrete anti-tank structures, we increasingly have started seeing the colors of the Ukrainian flag, the words "Ukrainian Armed Forces are coming" on the walls, and the chant "Glory to Ukraine..."

In addition to those resistance movements that operate on a large scale, such as the Crimean Fighting Seagulls, Yellow Ribbon, Atesh, and Crimean Partisans, we are seeing more and more individual protests. The actions are different, but no less compelling.

Recently, there was a video of an elderly man on the waterfront in Yalta loudly singing, "How can I not love you, my Kyiv?" At the same time, the barriers of Alushta are painted in blue and yellow colors, and the flag of Ukraine is flying on one of the TV towers in Feodosia.

Hope you die

Crimeans began to put stickers on their cars that showed the Crimean peninsula as part of Ukraine. Two sisters from Kerch sang the Ukrainian national anthem on their social networks and raised funds for Kyiv's Armed Forces. A tattoo artist got a tattoo that reads, "Crimea is Ukraine."

it is not only young people who do this.

Crimeans who support Ukraine have started to write about it more often on their social networks and express their opinions more freely. Moreover, it is not only young people who do this, but also our grandparents' generation.

Recently, a nurse nearing retirement age who lives in the occupied Crimea posted a photo of Vladimir Putin on Facebook with the caption, "I hope you die, f*cker."

Another woman has repeatedly expressed her opinion on the war among her colleagues, calling Russian military criminals, and wrote "Glory to Ukraine" on one of the city walls.

A teacher who moved to Crimea before its occupation and started teaching there refused to sing the anthem of the terrorist country during morning lineups, and has openly criticized the Russian army many times.

Photo of a woman and her daughter holding signs saying "NO WAR" and "CRIMEA IS UKRAINA"

A woman and her daughter hold signs a "NO WAR" and "CRIMEA IS UKRAINA" at a Ukrainian flag raising ceremony to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people


The hunt

There are many other single cases, but two factors unite every protest. The first, of course, is a clear civic position. The second is that each of our citizens, whom I mentioned above, has been subjected to a so-called "hunt."

This "hunt" - threats and leaking personal information - is carried out mainly by the Russian occupiers and their local accomplices. One of the most striking examples is Oleksandr Talipov, who runs the Crimean SMERSH telegram channel with over 40,000 subscribers.

Talipov not only supported the occupation of the peninsula but also betrayed the oath he took to Ukraine. Until 2007, he served as a border guard and, in 2014, sided with Russia. The case against him has already been opened by the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

His telegram channel publishes daily photos and videos of our citizens who openly supported Ukraine. All their data is being passed on to the occupation forces, as evidenced by new illegal verdicts in the occupation courts. In addition, Talipov also publishes "video apologies" being forced upon Crimeans by the Russian FSB secret services.

TikTok and Zelensky

A student living on the occupied peninsula was recently fined twice, 50,000 and 60,000 rubles ($625 - $750) for supporting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in her TikTok and making a video wearing an embroidered shirt with a blue and yellow manicure. Talipov, like a loyal dog of his Russian owner, immediately started harassing her. Eventually, the occupation court accused her of discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

Another man received a fine under the same article, "Discrediting the Russian Armed Forces," just for posting the flag of Ukraine on his Instagram. Once again, for the occupiers, even ordinary Ukrainian symbols are already discrediting their military because, according to their "motivational" letters attached to the rulings and sentences of the occupation courts, the Armed Forces of Ukraine use the national flag on their combat uniforms.

I have listed a small samplings of such acts of resistance. Only in March and half of April, the occupation courts received 42 proceedings. In total, during the year of existence of this illegal article, 352 Crimeans were charged for that same article.

The stepping up of such absurd sentences indicates panic among the occupiers and collaborators. The invaders realize that "de-occupation" is close — and they know that the local population will support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

To strengthen control over the population, the occupation administrations of Crimea have begun installing photo and video recording cameras. At present, open sources report at least 150 new cameras installed, most of them along the railroad, to prevent sabotage. There are also reports of increased random passport checks and surveillance of personal phones of residents of occupied Crimea.

Forced passportization

There is also new pressure on Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories. The Russian government has published a draft decree by Putin, which is intended to supplement the so-called law with defined "grounds for termination" of Ukrainian citizenship without Ukraine's consent.

Through open sources, we know that our citizens want to refuse the occupation documents. However, we urge them not to go through the bureaucratic hell of the Russian Federation. Ukraine has never recognized and never will acknowledge occupation passports. All citizens who became victims of forced passportization during the occupation of the peninsula were and remain citizens of Ukraine.

Russians dug almost 8 kilometers of trenches.

We also urge people to clean their phones and other gadgets. We see and hear you, but you must be careful. We know you support Ukraine and are waiting for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, so we emphasize that you take care for yourself.

Along with increasing pressure on Ukrainian citizens, the Russian occupiers began to actively prepare the peninsula for defense against the coming counteroffensive by the Ukrainian military. Russians dug almost 8 kilometers of trenches on the beaches from the towns of Zaozerne to Yevpatoriya. The Kerch Peninsula is wholly cut off from the rest of the occupied Crimea by concrete anti-tank structures, also known as dragon teeth.

After repeated explosions at the military warehouses of the Russian Armed Forces, the occupiers began to disperse their aviation on the peninsula and move some of the Black Sea Fleet's technical personnel to the Russian city of Novorossiysk.
There were reports from several cities of a ban on swimming with no explanation, while satellite images show that the beaches are covered with concrete structures.

Military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces is being brought to the occupied Crimea from the south of Ukraine and other territories where active hostilities are taking place. Residents publish videos on their social networks about the movement of columns of military equipment.

Photo of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Tamila Tasheva

Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Tamila Tasheva

Kirill Chubotin/Ukrinform/Zuma

Inevitable responsibility

All this has become very intense. And although the occupation administrations are still holding on to the narrative that all is quiet in Crimea, their actions tell a completely different story — they are scared.

And they should be because they are on foreign land and are well aware of how much pain they have caused our citizens, and therefore holding them responsible is inevitable.

I want to appeal once again to our citizens who are surviving the occupation — we are fighting for you, and we see you fighting for Ukraine.

Show where you stand, and support the Armed Forces. But remember that the enemy is still close. Be careful, but be active. For our part, we will continue to actively move towards the de-occupation and reintegration of our Ukrainian Crimea so that this period becomes only a part of history.

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