On February, 24 the head of the Sevastopol city administration Vladimir Yatsuba resigned and also left ranks of the Party of Regions. At extraordinary, emergency session of the Sevastopol city council deputies made decision on creation of executive committee which will assume administration functions. Businessman, the citizen of Russia Alexey Chaly, is appointed the chairman of the committee and the mayor.
All Ukrainian flags were taken away from the buildings of administration and the City Council the same day.
As highly experienced and repeatedly deceived person, I will tell you – don’t have illusions. For the present nothing special has happened, but for one thing – citizens using most ancient "vote" – originated from the word "voice", that is who could holler the loudest, chose pleasant to them person the head of Sevastopol. They broke all rules following example of new Kiev "Rada" - up to that the new mayor is not the citizen of the Ukrainian state, moreover he is acting businessman. However 12 years ago inhabitants of Sevastopol, the only in Ukraine, were deprived of the right to choose town governor. So, it’s possible to call the events which happened in the city bourgeois-democratic and national liberation revolution at the local level.
Driving forces are unclear, I don't believe that 25 thousand people gathered so spontaneously in one rather small city and all passionately wanted to appoint Alexey Chaly in chief. Thought the process is positive, earlier they didn't choose, now they put forward "from below" and approved from above, though under some pressure from the side. Businessman doesn’t look as thief-privatizer, as they say, he earned his money himself using progress in science and technology, Chaly is the Doctor of Engineering, he is not only manager general, but also technical director in his own company. He is grandson of the known in Sevastopol vice admiral Chaly, that is he is local. For already 20 years he has been working in Moscow and worldwide, he seems to have serious business. Besides he is the initiator and, it is necessary to understand, the main sponsor of a memorial of the 35th Battery, one should search for such large-scale memorials created on private money around the world. These are pluses.
Minus – this person never took part in political life or municipal economy. He has usual set of stamps as to his views and belief, however, it’s strongly multiplied by intelligence and education. Yes, this person never took part in political life, he was engaged with different things. Such people often get under influence, the more so their coming to power was not quite independent, it was depended on a number of circumstances and persons.
Two illusions of the new town governor can play bad joke with him and city:
- illusion that Sevastopol is the Russian city;
- illusion that Russia and Putin dream of adjoining Sevastopol.
Actually Sevastopol is the Soviet city occupied by the former Soviet people, speaking, clear thing, Russian, though it’s ethnically and culturally diverse. That is it’s unique, not typical for Russia city. It “doesn't fit in", thanks God, into general row. Its originality is enormous value, actually, the only reason why this city has to keep its peculiarity further. As Petersburg, but in a different way.
Putin is very popular in Sevastopol, much more, than in any other Russian city. There is such local cunning: we will love Putin, and he will fall in love with us for it. Though Putin is not the lover for the cities, he is dictator. Not such as might-have-been Yanukovych who used to be dictator for about a month, but the person who rules huge country rigidly and cynically, paying no regard to it. Mezhigorye makes impression of poor rural house in comparison with his Konstantinovsky Palace or complex in Praskoveevka. Yanukovych only wanted to resemble Putin, but Ukraine didn't endure even it. Being part of Russia it is necessary to suffer and don’t peep. Today 420 people were beaten and arrested only because they come to protest against unfair and cruel sentence. Ukraine has already lost habit of such things. Whether it is worth getting used?
Don’t forget about international complications which will happen at annexation of not even the Crimea, but one Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, Putin's mode won’t cope with them. They have money, families, real estate in the West, they can't act as Kim Jong Un or Fidel Castro. It’s very important they don't want to act like that. They also have "the European choice", simply they aren’t called to Europe.
However, I think that Alexey Chaly for many years worked hard in Moscow, understands all this perfectly well, but broadcasts habitual illusions for public, I don’t believe in the rich Russians who don’t know the price to Putin's regime. They can even work with him, interact on favorable basis, but love... They can't. He is sly in vain, it’s bad PR. The best PR is its absence.
It turns out thus that Sevastopol has to find own way. It passes very close to Russia, it is connected with continental Russia, but it shouldn’t merge in ecstasy. It has to be something like Abkhazia or Transnistria, but without blockade from Ukraine. Perhaps, status of a free city. Perhaps, status of self-governed territory. But only not to become the second Kaliningrad - ruined and devastated. Something like this...
The main thing in Sevastopol is, of course, people. Such people aren’t made now. They could have lived in paradise if this city belonged only to them and to nobody else.
ánatoly Baranov, editor-in-chief of FORUM.msk