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Daily life in Sevastopol

Author: Ayre от 24.11.2014, 20:00
(голосов: 4)

On the topic of daily life in Sevastopol, since after the mess with the changes I often hear the question of “aren’t you disappointed yet?” with a hint that “wasn’t it better in Ukraine?” I will say right away that I am writing for Sevastopol.

 

On water in Sevastopol. Water supply is constant, even though according to the adopted water supply schedule (signed by[ the city mayor Sergey] Menyailo) my building is in a district that presumes partial cutoffs, since there is a shortage of water in the Chernorechenskoe water reservoir. So I personally am not experiencing problems with this. There is no [central] hot water, so you need to heat it [yourself]. Nevertheless, there are, just in case, several large water vessels with collected water on the balcony, since we still remember how in the 90s we had to go to the special water haul trucks to get water. In this case it is better to overdo than underdo.

 

On electricity. Electric power is always available, there have not been any power outs lately; the only thing is that there are periodic power surges, but this is sooner trouble with the old wiring in the building (a couple years ago a transformer burned out in the building), rather than problems with the grid; friends that live in newer buildings don’t have these problems.

 

Heating. Central heating has been on for about a month and a half, working full force, the radiators are hot, even too much so, considering the rather warm Crimean weather. Generally speaking, autumn at present is traditionally warm, so no complaints about the cold.

 

On transportation. [A ride on a] trolley bus is 5 rubles, bus is 8 rubles, and commercial van/bus is 10 rubles. This is about the same as it was before [Crimea joining Russia], considering the official exchange rate of 3 rubles to 1 hryvna. Gas has gotten more expensive, on average by 3-5 rubles.

Some friends with a limited budget, even though some have their own cars, still prefer saving cash by taking the bus. The city center is still a bit congested by transport, although there are of course no traffic jams like in Moscow, but the city streets are not well designed for the increasing number of cars.

 

On prices. Food prices have grown noticeably, and in some ways they have exceeded the growth in salaries and pensions (one of these days I’ll send out a journalist to take photos of price labels, same as [they did] in the spring). In May-June it was the other way around, and while old prices for Ukrainian goods remained, the salaries grew rapidly, but now, as the old Ukrainian supplies are being substituted and the goods exchange between Crimea and Ukraine is dropping, the Russian goods are pushing prices up due to the transportation expenses. This was expected, and so the race of growing salaries and prices continues, the next phase will be in February-March when big money will come to the city and there will be another leap in salaries and prices. Overall, living in the city is getting more expensive and is approaching [the level of] Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar (if we were to compare with places I’ve been and with what is comparable). Of the things that are still cheap, there is the local alcohol. Visitors are still very surprised when they see decent wine or cognac at very reasonable prices. But as informed people say, this is a temporary thing.

 

On communications. Communication [service] could be better. [My] old MTS Ukraine [telephone] number periodically works and periodically doesn’t. The local operator Win Mobile also had several shut-downs, the Moscow MTS works wonderfully, but there is [a] roaming [charge]. The network provider SevStar had some problems lately, but they were resolved rather quickly. Cable [TV] now has Russian channels instead of Ukrainian, though there are also packages with Ukrainian channels. Some friends, for example, entertain themselves by watching Ukrainian channels “just to have a good laugh” and “man, those guys are idiots.” There is no serious demand for [these channels]. I personally don’t care, since I don’t watch TV anyway.

 

On military personnel. Their numbers in the city have increased noticeably. You can see military patrol personnel much more often, as well as simply military personnel moving around – in large groups on foot and in various trucks. The concentration of Russian troops in Crimea is increasing, so the activities of the military are not surprising; there is intense work going on at the Belbek [military] airport, which is being modernized to suit the needs of the Russian aviation, but the news on the Belbek civil airport has dwindled. There is still talk going around that if the Mistral [warships built by France for Russia] are turned over to Russia (they are currently saying that they could turn them over at the end of November), then sooner or later one of them will be [stationed] in Sevastopol, and special structures for it will be built at the Severnaya [wharf]. There are also expectations of the diesel submarines and corvettes that were promised 3-4 years ago.

 

On the authorities. The conflict between [current mayor, Sergey] Menyailo and [leader respected by the public, Aleksey] Chaliy is practically not noticeable on the public level. On the large part, the city government now has new people, and many of the old and rotted “Ukrainian” mug shots have evaporated from the horizon, which makes many people happy. So the new faces in any event appear better as compared to the former “servants of the people.” There are some cautious hopes in respect to the new city authorities, since there were many promises made, money was promised for city development, and now the people are waiting for the new year and the start of promised changes, since the money allotted for them is rather substantial (over 5 billion rubles for general development alone, not to speak of the ship repair industry, infrastructure and military expenditures). But I generally agree that once they start spending and developing, then we will see if the “new faces” are of any use or if things will be as always. [Aleksey] Chaliy is currently working at the Agency for Strategic Development of Sevastopol, he is still not a very public person, but his moral authority in the city is very high, people remember what he has done for the city. Currently the United Russia party and the All-Russian National Front party are at the helm. After the elections, activity of political parties has sharply dropped – the banners and intrusive advertising of the United Russia party and the Russian Liberal Democratic Party have disappeared. The local communists are licking their wounds after a disastrous campaign, and what they should be doing is bringing some younger people into the local party organizations to meet the new demands.

 

On the war and patriotism. There are quite a few patriotic events taking place in the city; there are special excursions in the local museums for purposes of patriotic upbringing for Ukrainian armed personnel that switched over to serve in Russia. Russian symbols and “guardsman’s ribbons” are still very popular, and occasionally you can see symbols of Novorossia, DPR and LPR. There is still humanitarian aid actively being collected for the Donbass region, and volunteers from Sevastopol still travel there to take part in the combat. People engaged in combat in the Donbass region are perceived purely as our own and victory is wished on them. For the same reasons, Ukraine is not liked and people wish it defeat and ruin. As is well known, there is no rest for the freaks, and there is some movement to substitute the Sevastopol coat of arms with another [double-headed] eagle. Once again, a bunch of spongers are imitating intense activity, as though the city has no other problems.

 

On Ukraine. At the places where I personally move around, work or rest, there is practically nothing reminiscent of Ukraine any more. Once in a while, you can still see some shabby advertising signs with [the Ukrainian] yellow-blue symbols, or some store signs that haven’t been changed yet, but this is already a passing thing. There are more and more cars with Russian license plates. There are no more of the long lines to the passport authorities; most people who wanted to get [Russian] passports have gotten them already. By 2016, you need to officially indicate that when you obtained Russian citizenship, you did not go through the procedure of renouncing the Ukrainian citizenship, and in effect many people have dual citizenship, since Ukraine sees Sevastopol as Ukrainian territory, and we are sort of citizens of Ukraine. Ha-ha. Many refugees are currently working on the issue of getting Russian citizenship even though they did not live in Crimea before, and there are some difficulties with this, but they can generally be resolved through court. On the legal services market, the issues of citizenship and of re-registration of companies under Russian jurisdiction are among the most profitable ones.

Ukrainian speech can very rarely be heard in Sevastopol. Without it being pushed on you, no one needs it here. In movie theaters, there is no longer the idiotic practice of voice-over in Ukrainian (and now you can finally go, without being reprimanded, to a regular 3D movie theater and watch movies in your native language; I wanted to go see Interstellar, but haven’t found the time yet); as the Ukrainian drugs are substituted by Russian ones, the idiotic practice is disappearing, where drugs in a city with 99% Russian-speaking population had instructions only in Ukrainian and English. Road signs are starting to be replaced, but this is not a quick process; you can still find something [in Ukrainian] on the outskirts, but in the city center it is very difficult to find something connected with Ukraine.

 

Generally, you could still talk about the rise in housing prices, the slow removal of fenced land plots in beach areas, about the authorities’ intentions to clear out the majority of advertisement squares that have polluted the city, about the battle with unauthorized construction or the stalled nationalization of Ukrainian oligarchs’ property. But overall, you could describe the current state of affairs in the city as being routine – many positive changes have taken place already or are happening now. There are also quite a few negative things, objective as well as subjective. I wouldn’t say that I like everything. But as I said back in the spring, all this is more than an acceptable price for the opportunity to rid Sevastopol of Ukraine. So I personally do not see any horrible problems, seeing which you could say that “it would be better to be in Ukraine.” No guys, not better.

 

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  • piter

  • 27 November 2014 22:30
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Thank you for the details! Very nice reading.
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