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16 Nov, 2020 18:48

‘It’s unrecognizable’: Booming Crimea better off in Russia as Moscow pours in cash, says ally of Ukrainian President Zelensky

‘It’s unrecognizable’: Booming Crimea better off in Russia as Moscow pours in cash, says ally of Ukrainian President Zelensky

A Ukrainian lawmaker from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s own ruling party has raised eyebrows in Kiev after arguing that her native Crimean Peninsula has changed for the better since returning to Moscow's control in 2014.

Elizaveta Bogutskaya, a member of the Ukrainian parliament for the governing 'Servant of the People', made the explosive claims as part of an interview with a TV news station. “A lot of people are satisfied and happy”, she said of those living in the region, many of whom had been Ukrainian citizens before Crimea voted to join Russia in 2014.

“Compared to here on the mainland... people are not as politically oriented as we are. For them, life is just about living. It’s about buying food, going to work, and they don’t care [about the political situation].”

Also on rt.com Ukrainian special forces reportedly practice RECAPTURE of Crimea, 6 years after peninsula rejoined Russia

The parliamentarian suggested that people were used to politicians in Kiev not playing a role in their life, saying “in the 30 years before, nothing had been done. When we don’t make any progress, we stand still.”

By contrast, she added, since the peninsula began to be administered by Russia, significant building works had been begun in cities such as Simferopol. Bogutskaya’s admission is all the more extraordinary given that she had been a resident of Simferopol until 2014, and she added that “Russia is building a lot. I saw a video of the place where I lived, I just did not recognize it at all … there are already high-rise buildings, and highways have been built there.”

Bogutskaya’s words are at odds with the actions of her party’s leadership. Over the past week, Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly staged a series of drills on the border with Crimea, in which they rehearsed an invasion of the region. While any such action is unlikely, given the lack of international support for a full-scale war with Russia, it demonstrates that Kiev is still unwilling to accept the results of the 2014 referendum in which 96.7 percent of residents voted for proposals to re-join Russia. 

After decades of neglect by Kiev, Crimea was Russia’s poorest region when it re-joined the country. However, in 2019, the peninsula’s economy was named as the fastest-growing in the country, with Moscow spending more than $13 billion locally between 2015 and 2022.

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