Russia has militarized the occupied Crimean Peninsula and intimidated its residents for eight years, the deputy permanent representative of the president of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Tamila Tasheva, said in an interview with Radio NV on April 16.
She explained how the life had changed on the peninsula during the fifty days of the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine.
- What is the mood in the Crimea and in Sevastopol after the cruiser Moskva sank?
- From the first day of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we have been monitoring the mood in the Crimea and Sevastopol. Of course, they are very different. At first, the propaganda machine tried to state that everything was fine, they were conducting a "special operation," there would not be a large number of dead. But when a large number of corpses began to be taken to the territory of Crimea, to civilian hospitals, of course, people began to notice that.
Regarding the flagship Moskva. Most of the information on it is classified. It is unknown how many people survived: according to various sources, it is from 14 to 58 surviving Russian sailors. In total, according to the occupation and Russian authorities, (there were) more than 500 sailors on the cruiser.
So far, I can't tell you the exact reaction to the deaths of these sailors and the sinking of this flagship. I saw in the occupation media that the reaction was very negative. Everyone blames Ukraine, no one believes in the version of arson or detonation, i.e. the official version released by the Russian Federation.
Funerals are expected on the territory of the peninsula, as was the case with other Russian servicemen who had been sent from the territory (of Crimea) to mainland Ukraine.
- How did the mood change after the corpses and wounded soldiers began to be brought to the Crimea?
- The war didn't start on Feb. 24. For eight years, both our mission, human rights organizations, and government officials have been talking about the terrible militarization of the peninsula. Indeed, Crimea was a solid military base for Russia. They built up both their defenses on the peninsula and the special operations forces, and the so-called law enforcement agencies, and (the number of) military.
It is clear that the deployment of troops was very fast. We remember the invasion that took place from the south: The Russian military entered the territory of mainland Ukraine en masse. These large reserves of the Russian army, in particular with the involvement of the Crimean military, who were born on the territory of the peninsula, were sent to war.
When they (Russians) began to take people to the morgues en masse, they used part of the railway. According to our data, there was a smell of corpses around the Simferopol railway station. Accordingly, people then realized that the war or "special operation," which was allegedly far away, was affecting them.
For example, the 6th city hospital in Simferopol, a hospital in Dzhankoi were fully occupied for military purposes, for treatment. According to our data, doctors all over Crimea are being forced, as is said in a letter from the occupation administration we obtained, to "voluntarily" travel to the so-called "DPR/LPR." Crimean doctors have reacted to this: it's clear that they don't want to go there.
- How is it possible to explain this? "LPR/DPR" is not part of Russia, and they seem to have recognized Crimea as their own. What is the logic?
- Despite the fact that the Crimea allegedly "officially" became part of Russia, they don't consider this population their own. We are trying to say this and use this counterargument. And they are sending to the war with Ukraine a population that they do not feel sorry for. This is done with the Crimean Tatars, for example.
As for doctors. (They are used) to achieve two goals. The first is propaganda, and the second is that they just lack enough staff to work in the so-called republics.
- There was information that if those mobilized refuse to fight against Ukraine, they are forced to do so by threats against their relatives. Do you know about this?
- We aren't aware of such cases. But we can definitely talk about people trying to evade the conscription campaign. We know about groups in the Telegram messenger where people discuss, consolidate, rent a car to leave the peninsula through the Russian territory, or through third countries.
We said at the beginning of this new invasion that (Crimean residents) should not join the Russian army: "If you want to avoid this, change SIM cards, and your place of residence, try not to be served with a summons, leave the territory of the peninsula." And we have dozens of appeals from citizens who are trying to leave for such consular assistance, and we're already in contact with our consuls in third countries, because our consuls aren’t doing their job in Russia.