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Hello. My name is Kirill Kazkov, I'm 23. I was born and still living in the Ukrainian city called Odessa. It is located on the coast of the Black Sea, which washes the shores of worldwide known peninsula - Crimea. News, accompanying it’s accession to the Russian Federation, overtook me on a trading vessel somewhere near Africa. Our crew consists mainly of Ukrainians, but there are Russians as well, so daily newsletter includes both Ukrainian and Russian summaries. Considering their obvious mismatch, a Western reader might assume that the representatives of different countries began to arise differences in political aspect, but in reality they were among the Ukrainians themselves. It is so, because not all of us take the joining of the Crimea and accession perspective of eastern or southern regions of Ukraine (like Odessa) to Russia as something exceptionally negative. In correspondence with my relatives and friends, I came to the conclusion that approximately same thing can be said about the inhabitants of the whole Ukraine. But it will be more honest, if I speak on my own behalf. Taking into account the cultural differences between me (Ukrainian) and the reader (most likely an Englishman or American), the content of my message should include a fairly large amount of information on the history, sociology, philosophy, economics … of my region, but I do not have the opportunity to explain everything in details. Instead, I'll briefly express my thoughts, and then merge your questions by topics and give a detailed response to each of them individually. So I want to participate in cultural cooperation between our coulters in order to eliminate some obvious misunderstandings.
- The Soviet Union from an agrarian state in just 15-20 years turned into an industrial giant. The result gave the opportunity to every sector of our industry independency from other countries. Yes, it was bases on titanic difficulties, but they were demanded by historical realities. Today "independent" Ukrainian heavy and high-tech industries nearly destroyed, and the state itself turns into raw materials appendage of the EU;
- In the Soviet Union every citizen was guaranteed a decent job with a normal salary and reasonable pension. In the "independent" Ukraine, job were you can express your knowledge for a normal money is extremely difficult to find and some pensioners have got not enough money for a normal meal, not to mention clothing and equipment;
- In the USSR, all the people began to receive free medical care, a healthy exercise was one of the main priorities in the education of young generation. In result a median life expectancy rose to more then 70 -something years. In the "independent" Ukraine life expectancy and fertility are rapidly declining. Everything goes to the fact that the working population will be only a few million - just enough to gather resources, grow vegetables, and sell it all to other countries;
- In the Soviet Union every honest working man could expect to receive a free apartment from the state, because his family is expanding. Yes, you had to stand in line, lasting from 5 to 15 years, but an apartment given was for free! And in the "independent" Ukraine to buy a 2- bedroom apartment, an ordinary person will accumulate his/her entire salary for 15-20 years (and it is without calculation of the devaluation). In addition, the old housing are not being renovated properly and new were built from cheap materials;
- In the USSR we had no homeless children. In “independent” Ukraine you can meet plenty of them;
- It the USSR crime rate was among the lowest in the world: practically we had no drug addiction, government embezzlement, and in most cities at night you could just walk around the city ... In the "independent" Ukraine who does not steal - most likely live in poverty, most common variety of teenage fun is drugs using, and so on;
- Soviet general education (10 classes of school) was compulsory for the entire population, and higher education – available (free) to everyone who was able to learn. Whereas before the Revolution (in 1917) general education could afford only a very small part of the population, and higher education - could receive only the aristocracy. Today, the "independent" Ukraine is the reverse process: the level of education falls and it becomes more expensive – unavailable for most of the people;
- In the Soviet Union we represented the periphery of the world of science, so that we are the first to go into space and created the atomic bomb (as opposed to American). Today "independent" Ukraine produces only some parts of space and nuclear industries;
- It was the Soviet Union to became the first country where all men are equal in their abilities in the society: women started to lead, the villagers were able to reach the very top of the power. Now our "independent" life is not determined those who have proven their loyalty to the country, nor the most intelligent, but ordinary criminals;
- And finally: all these values were ​​defended by the strongest army in the world, army that defeated German and Japanese Nazism.
Of course, we are linked with the Soviet Union with common disasters as well: pre-revolutionary civil war, repressions in 30’s, hunger, forced collectivization, the Great Homeland War (for you it’s Second World War) , "Cold War" (that never ended) , the war in Afghanistan , the collapse of the 90s (that never ended as well) .. But all these disasters, despite some claims of our nationalists that are in government now, we shared equally, they also demonstrate the strength and flexibility of our civilization. But we are bound not only by history: from Siberia to Odessa, we speak the same language, we have the same conception of justice and strong family ties - a legacy that is not easy to destroy.
We have to admit there were major drawbacks, both: in the system of social relations and economic regulation, we have something to be ashamed of and there is much to learn... But that is why Putin once said:
And I fully agree with him because on the one hand I understand that only together we can progress rapidly, and on the other - we need a new CONCEPT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, which would not only save us from repeating the same mistakes, would not only give us the opportunity to respond adequately to new challenges, but also become the basis for cooperation with other countries. So this concept must become nothing less than alternative form of globalization. And  Russians have such concept. But this is what I tell you if my message will cause significant interest of yours.
And in addition (to make your impression more complete) I give you my translation of the 10 Putins thoughts about Crimea:
Russian President commented on the results of the referendum , according to which the Crimeans have expressed a desire to leave Ukraine (March 18, 2014)
About Khrushchev (he became soviet leader immediately after Stalin – my comment)
"The initiative to transfer Crimea to Ukraine came personally from Nikita Khrushchev , for reasons that should be handled by historians. Obviously, this was in violation of constitutional norms, it was a cabal. Under the conditions of a totalitarian state residents do not ask, just a fait accompli.”
Crimea as a sack of potatoes
"Millions of Russian went to bed in one country and woke up abroad. Issue of transfer of Crimea to Ukraine decided behind the scenes. Under the conditions of a totalitarian state residents of Crimea and Sevastopol nothing to ask - just a fait accompli. By and large, the decision was seen as certain formality. Indeed territory passed under one big country. "
About Banderivtsy
"Crimea was and remains Russians, Ukrainians and Tatars peninsula. It is home to the representatives of all the peoples who live there, but it will never be the Banderas (a name that is usually given to all Ukrainian radical nationalists – my comment)  ."
About Russian soldiers
"The armed forces did not invade Crimea, they already were there. Yes, we have strengthened our presence, but we have not exceeded the limit even state that stipulated by the agreement. It provides the amount of 25 thousand people.”
On the self-defense of the peninsula
"Only thanks to “the forces of self-defense” (organization, that took all the responsibility for all these changes in Crimea – my comment) there were no human casualties in the Crimea. But they could happen.”
On the United Nations Charter and the Kosovo precedent
“By organizing the referendum, we relied on the UN Charter, on the right of peoples to self-determination. By the way, Ukraine seceded from the Soviet Union in the same way, based on this precedent. Ukraine did it, but the same right for Crimea was ignored. Basis for the referendum and recognition was the Kosovo precedent. Somehow that allowed the Albanians in Kosovo, it is forbidden Crimean’s in the Crimea."
On the Crimean Tatars
"Today, the 2.2 million inhabitants of the Crimean peninsula - nearly 1.5 million Russian , 350,000 Ukrainians who primarily consider Russian as their mother tongue, and the order of 290-300 thousand Crimean Tatars , many of which , as shown by the referendum also cater Russia. There was a period when the Crimean Tatars had been taken cruel injustice. I'll say one thing: many millions of people of different nationalities suffered from repressions and, above all, of course, the Russian people did. Crimean Tatars have returned to their land (they were transferred from Crimea by Stalin’s order – my comment). I believe that all necessary political and legislative should be taken - solutions that will complete the process of rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatar people, solutions that will restore their rights, good name in full."
About three official languages
"It would be correct to recognize Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar languages as three official languages in the Republic of Crimea. Crimea has always been part of Russia in the heart and minds of people. Crimea has always been a part of Russia. Both: time, the circumstances were powerless.”
On the prospect of joining other regions
"I appeal to the people of Ukraine. Sincerely want you to understand us. We in any case do not want to hurt you, to offend national sensibilities. We have always respected the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, as opposed to those who brought the unity of Ukraine in sacrifice to their political ambitions. They flaunt the great slogans of Ukraine, but they did everything to divide the country. I want you to hear me: friends, do not believe those who scares you with Russia, screams that other regions are followed after the Crimea: we do not want the division of Ukraine, we do not need it."
On radicals in Kiev
"The main executors coup became nationalists , neo-Nazis , anti-Semites and russophobes - they largely determine even today still lives in Ukraine. It is also clear that the legitimate executive power in Ukraine is still no , no one with whom to talk , many state agencies usurped by impostors , and they did not control the country , and themselves , I want to stress , often find themselves under the control of radicals. even get an appointment with some ministers of the current government is possible only with the permission of the militants Maidana - this is no joke , this is the reality of today's life."
P.S. I am sorry for some grammatical mistakes – my English is not very good.
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comment from my stepfather Steve

I have wrote this small account of "Good old Soviet times" I hope you
will read it and give me counter comments about what I write, most of
this I know from what I've read on the subject and speaking to
Ukrainians especially your own family who live in Odessa and remember
these times very well!

So, what do you call "a decent salary" ? For the intelligent class the
usual salary was about 100 Rub. For example, your Grandmother received
80 Rub and your Grandfather received 120 Rub. Was it enough to live on?
- the answer is NO, your Grandmother nearly every month borrowed 10-15
Rub from neighbours to survive till next pay day. they didn't eat meat
very much! First, it wasn't easy to buy at state shops, only at markets,
where the price was too high for their budget. So, there usual menu was
borsch and fries. When your mother was 12, a neighbour’s daughter
offered her a piece of steak, and she told me how tasty it was and how
unusual for her it was to eat such tasty food. Needless to say that they
lived on such a small income for years and years and many people around
them lived in the same conditions. Of course, there were people who
lived even in worse conditions (street workers - they received about 60
Rub per month, students - they received about 40 Rub , how they
survived, God knows)! Or people who lived better : First, it was
"working class" ( builders, black-labour, workers at factories and
plants, especially on dangerous sites, in hot workshops, in hazardous
jobs with very little safety and without air-conditioning or
ventilation. people received from 200 up to 500 Rub, they were
considered millionaires, in comparison with others, but it had drawbacks
: they didn't live long, your mothers Auntie Valya's husband - Uncle
Yura died when he was 52, he became a pensioner quite early, but he
didn't enjoy it very long, he worked in a galvanising plant, in
caparison I retired when I was 52 and now I am 61!
Now some of the ex working class recollect 'good old times' with
nostalgia, when they had power, good salary etc,
All officials had a good salary (about 200-400) including Trade Union's
officials, Communist Party's officials, Komsomol leaders etc. They
pretended that they worked, because their task was to make other people
work, not themselves and they succeeded a lot in this mission, they had
all ideology system on which they stood.
A separate story about village people. Up to 1961 all village people
didn’t have passports and couldn’t move to cities, they were allowed to
live only in villages, even their children had to live there, unless
they enter a high school or join the army and have a promotion there,
that gave them a chance to live not only in villages. The majority of
collective farmers worked in "kolhoz" with great reluctance and had a
dream that they would be allowed to have their own piece of land and
their own livestock and nobody would take it from them. Needless to say,
that during Soviet times people in villages were robbed and left with
nothing many times by Soviet officials. They took whatever they needed
and when these farmers refused to give grain, meat, livestock (cows,
chicken etc) communists forced them to Siberia. Actually, sending people
away from their residence was the normal practice of communists. After
the 2nd world war there were a lot of disabled people in cities (without
arms, legs..) they were invalids from the war, they usually wore medals,
and because they couldn't work, they were hanging around the city
centre, got drunk, created much noise and were a thorn in the police’s
eyes. so, one perfect day, nearly all of them were taken and withdrawn
out of the big cities and put in some nursing homes in small towns and
villages, where they eventually died. It's a perfect example how the
Communist leaders paid back people who defended the Soviet Union during
the war.

As you can see this is a very different existence from what Communist
propaganda states!

I look forward to your reply with anticipation,


Re: comment from my stepfather Steve

There are two main forms of discussions:
- one side express its point of view and another - says counter point of view + additional information or questions;
- one side express its point of view and another - says some additional information, completely ignoring details of the first point of view - YOUR STILE. if i will follow it, our discussion will turn into a complete waist of time (for both of us).
That is why I will give an answer only to that part of your comment witch suppose to be counter argument to what i wrote in a first place(about salary), but that doesn't mean that I dont have an answer to everything else:
YES, wages were not very high, BUT as I sad: flats, education and medical care were nearly or completely free + communal (gas, water..)and food it self were a lot chipper. so, IF you calculate all spendings on flats, education and medical care + communal (gas, water..) in modern Ukraine and compare them with abilities of people to afford them, you will understand what I am trying to say.

Vladimir Putin has earned his current reputation for doing what he wants and getting away with it. He is after all a former KGB operative, and an authoritarian personality in an authoritarian system in a nation that's known nothing else since Ivan the Terrible in 1530. Whatever we think of him there are pressing questions about what the American national interest is as the wheels come off another of the survivor states of the Soviet Union.

The obvious one is the most important: Sovereign borders are not to be changed by military force, especially when the given reason is protection of ethnic minorities. Once the world goes down that path, chaos rules. It was the excuse Hitler gave, it resonates across the colonial borders of Africa, and can be found in China, India, Russia itself, the list goes on. Putin's invasion may have its own domestic logic but it unleashes irredentist forces that could consume us all.

On the other hand, what did the geniuses in the European Union think would happen as they probed for ways to spin the Ukraine out of the Russian orbit? A Ukraine aligned with the economic and political forces of Europe is a good thing in the long run, for Ukrainians particularly. But it's a real poke in the eye to Russia. What did we think would happen -- Putin would stand aside? And no one in the EU seemed to realize that once you stick your nose in, you own the problem. And as awful as Yanukovich was, he was the elected president, and the West is usually unhappy with the forceful removal of elected governments. So now we have a state collapsing along ethnic lines, bankrupt and dependent on Western cash, and a military move by Russia that exposes the unwillingness of the West to do much more than harumph and cancel meetings.

Most of the right-wing critique of Obama's foreign policy is, well, it's not just wrong, it's bogus. But in Ukraine, what was he thinking? That we could poke at a border state and Russia would do nothing? This is a mess that looks like the disastrous neo-con interventions of the Bush years, only they were willing to go to war and Obama is not. The lesson of Iraq is not just don't send troops, it's be realistic about what our enemies are likely to do, good or bad.

In retrospect it's sort of obvious that Putin would not let Western interference in Ukraine go without a KGB-type response. No Russian leader could sit by and let it happen, any more than the U.S. could do nothing if Russia became active in Canadian separatist politics. And a small but disturbing part of what's going on in Ukraine is a resurgence of hard, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic forces, the heirs of the Ukrainian efforts in support of Hitler. Don't underestimate the strength of Russian memories of World War II.

There's no military solution; a political solution would be a gift from Putin; Russian public opinion, to the extent it is knowable, is behind him. The American response is going to have to go beyond Obama's neo-neo-con sticking his finger in the eye of a ruthless Russian regime. The Right is going to have to come up with a policy that's suitably tough without going to war. The Left is going to have to learn the difference between a popular democratic movement overthrowing a tyrant and an endless ethnic and ideological dispute unleashing forces we can't control. In the meantime, Putin is ascendant and instability reigns.

So, you have chosen the first variant of discussion (one side express its point of view and another - says some information, completely ignoring details of the first point of view), but I did not. i really have more interesting things to do, so I stop this discussion until you start following one simple rule: using facts in counterarguming things I wrote.

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