3 years ago, I’d just returned to Odessa, where I lived, from my first trip to Crimea. I went there, at no one’s behest, working for no one, quite simply, to see for myself the truth of what was happening there. Here are a look back at some tweets, and an article, from the time, just as it was.
In February, I was watching Crimea, tweeting about Crimea, as the peninsula rose up against Maidan, and the unelected government it put in place in Ukraine:
But, I always believe in going somewhere for yourself, so it was, on February 27th, of my own volition, neither working for anyone, nor being paid by anyone for it, I set off the some 460km from Odessa, to Simferopol!
The next few tweets up, and a few things to note, I wrote a lot of blogs on the go, and refer to them here, that site I let the domain expire, read more here. Also, I’m trying to cover every angle, because there’s no question there was Russian military intervention in Crimea, and I reported on that. Yet, when I went to Crimea, I saw that any such action entirely reflected the wishes of the vast majority of the people there. Before I went, I was still using the hashtag #Ukraine for Crimea, because, like any western person, and one who’d lived in Ukraine for 2 years before, before actually going there myself, I indeed thought of Crimea as Ukraine –
As for getting into Crimea, by the way, despite what was being put out at the time at how ‘inaccessible‘ Crimea was, it was really easy to enter, even in a car with no registration plates as I had (they’d recently been stolen).
And when there, this is what I saw, and tweeted:
And in Sevastopol itself, and the large concert taking place in the square:
At this time in Crimea, it was important, as a journalist to note two things – there was indeed, clearly Russian military presence there. Yet, that reflected the wishes of the overwhelming majority of people there.
So, this time 3 years ago, I’d already returned from Crimea, written, and had published, an article for Politico magazine about my time there. Ok, I didn’t choose the title, or the photo, and they added the bit about Crimean Tatars themselves, however, apart from that, it pretty much came out as it was.
And, Crimea was pretty much the end of that time where people still entertained the concept of the objective journalist. If you reported, as I reported – i.e. things as they actually were, you got put in the ‘pro-Russia‘ camp. But incidentally, those who reported the other side, well a few were there, such as Daniel Sandford of the BBC and Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, and they dutifully did the job they’d been sent to do – make sure the position of western governments was represented in mass media.
Yet most of those crying ‘annexation’ etc were simply not there. I know, for I was there, and they were nowhere to be seen. What I saw, from Crimea at the end of February, start of March 3 years ago, is all above in tweets, and article.