‘Unwanted people:’ A portrait of Crimea
Russia shocked the world last Friday when, just weeks after garnering a stockpile of goodwill from the Sochi Olympic games, it sent military and paramilitary troops to seize control of the airport and other installations in Crimea, a narrow strip of land extending from Ukraine into the Black Sea.
A former Soviet Republic, Crimea is now an autonomous parliamentary republic within the country of Ukraine. More than half of its citizens are ethnic Russian. Ukrainians have been locked in a civil conflict for months over recently-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to bypass an economic agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Ukraine Monday night to show support for the interim government, while Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted Yanukovych’s ouster as an “unconstitutional coup and military grab of power,” but cooled tensions with the West by saying “there is no need” for a full-scale military intervention by the Russians at this point.
Photographer Oksana Yushko explored the lasting effects of a lifetime under Soviet rule by photographing residents of Balaklava, a small seaside town on the Crimean Peninsula that enjoyed prosperity as host to a Soviet naval base. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the division of the military assets once hosted on the peninsula, Yushko writes, the “system collapse turned the once privileged Soviet officers into unwanted people.”
“I saw traces of this not only in the town but also on people’s faces. They still live in the past,’ Yushko says. “Things have changed, but people’s minds and attitudes have not.”