Conversation after our Russian speaking Toastmasters club meeting today in Kiev

After the meeting of our Russian language Toastmasters club today (I gave a talk on Habitat for Humanity’s work in Latin America) four Ukrainians and I discussed the Crimean situation over a long lunch.  Here are a few points.

Khruschev did not annex Crimea to Ukraine on a whim back in 1954.  Ukraine was the richest of the Soviet Socialist Republics.  It was also the only one which bordered the automomous region of Crimea.

Crimea was isolated.  It did not have its own electric generation capacity.  More importantly, it needed to import water for agriculture.  They needed a source for these utilities, and people with the ability to build the infrastructure.  All from Ukraine.  So, putting them together made good logistical sense.

Marina knows electricians who were in on building Yanukovych’s Mezhygirya palace.  They were forbidden to take photographs, but there were many whispers, which had been circulating in the press here for months.

Yanukovych knew how little people liked him.  He spent many millions on a helipad by the river, so he could commute by air rather than motorcade.  However, he became spooked by the idea of being shot down by a ground-to-air missle, so he never finished it.  There it sits, one of many monuments to stupidity and indecision.

Yurii is writing about Crimea for his family, friends and acquaintances in Moscow.  They know that the Russian news is biased.  They are being lied to as badly as in Soviet days.  How do they get the truth?  The Internet!  It is the updated, and much better replacement for the samizdat (“self-publishing”) system that flourished in the USSR.  He can be quite sure that his writing will get wide circulation, to friends of friends.  The only way to shut it down would be to disable the Internet.  Doing that would be a total admission of failure, besides which it would automatically exclude Russia from the modern commerical world.  Quite simply, the times have overtaken dictators such as Putin.

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