The Russian annexation of Crimea occurred quickly and largely without bloodshed in February-March 2014, and the speed with which it was effected meant that world attention became quickly focused on the unfolding violent conflict in the far eastern regions of Ukraine. The large Russian military presence on the Crimean peninsula dwarfed that of the Ukrainian armed forces, and Russian military personnel in unmarked uniforms quickly took over Ukrainian military facilities and expelled Ukrainian servicemen. But over the past nine months, stories of social and economic tragedy have become more frequent as Russia has consolidated control over the region, largely out of sight by international media. Ukrainian press and media outlets have recorded tales of evictions and expropriation by Russian state organs. Following is one such report by the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper:
25 December 2014, 15:34
In Crimea, the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) and other state organs are throwing families out of the apartments of Ukrainian military personnel who have remained loyal to their oath, and are appropriating the empty apartments of Ukrainian soldiers.
This was reported to Ukrainska Pravda by Maryna Kanalyuk, assistant to the Ukrainian Naval Forces Command, and by Vladyslav Seleznev, former head of the media center of the Defense Ministry in Crimea.
“Our servicemen left Crimea, and it is understood that they cannot go there. Their families have remained and are minding these apartments, but the FSB, prosecutor, the Housing Authority – they have taken the doors off their hinges and terrorized the families,” said Kanalyuk, added that already 10 such cases had been recorded.
“In different cities of Crimea remained their service quarters. Their families lived in some of these. Russia considers this service housing to be nationalized and to belong to the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation. They make such claims without the decision of any court,” said Kanalyuk.
“Our government has signed decree 424 on the privatization of the service housing that remains in occupied territory. On the basis of this decision, we in Odessa and other Ukrainian cities discharged acts of privatization and made an extract from the state register in Kherson, that this housing is private property,” she explained.
“But Russia believes that the documents adopted after the referendum are invalid. This is even though federal legislation to which they refer, there is no such language,” added Kanalyuk.
According to her, the last incident occurred on Wednesday. “Ten people went to the apartment of one of our officers, Anatoly Kvasov in Simferopol, home to his wife, child and mother, and began to threaten them,” she said.
“When my wife called Anatoly and handed the phone to the FSB, he threatened Kvasov with torture at the border. He said this. And he promised problems with the Board of Trustees, as the children are allegedly illegally present on the territory of Crimea,” said Kanalyuk
According to her, her former colleague had settled in her apartment, having broken down the door and falsified the documentation.
“I have an apartment in Sevastopol. A month ago it was illegally seized by our former officer, Captain 2nd Grade Kostin, through forgery of documents. This is our former soldier, who betrayed his oath and began to serve Russia. He broke the locks and went in there,” said Kanalyuk.
“I changed the door, called the police and recorded this fact through the district. But a week ago a commission came and sealed my apartment. There hangs a print that says ‘Government of Sevastopol, Housing Group,’” she said.
“I cannot go there because I may not be able to leave. A policeman said this group approached him, but he said that all decisions should be taken by a court,” added Kanalyuk.
The former head of the media center of the Defense Ministry in Crimea, Vladyslav Seleznev, said that the FSB also came to his apartment.
“In Crimea, FSB functionaries came to my apartment and frightened my mother. They gave her two weeks to ensure that the apartment was relinquished. I have relatives there, and a child, and there is nowhere to take them,” said Seleznev.