The Autonomous Republic of Crimea has only been a part of the Ukraine since 1954, when it was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. Before, Crimea had been conquered and controlled by outside powers repeatedly throughout its history. Each invader left a visible mark. Today, Crimea is the homeland of the Crimean Tatars, whom Joseph Stalin accused of cooperating with Nazi Germany and forcibly expelled to Central Asia. They returned en masse after the Soviet Union fell, only to find their homes occupied by re-settlers from other parts of the Soviet Union. The majority of the Crimean population is ethnic Russian. This, at times, creates tension along ethnic lines. I see Crimea as a microcosm of the Ukraine – split between the national agenda of the country’s west, leaning towards Europe, and its eastern half, which prefers to maintain a close connection to Russia.
Feature / U / Crimea: Somewhere Between Ukraine And Russia by Justyna Mielnikiewicz
U (2008-2009) Of all the former republics of the USSR, Ukraine is one of the most important. With a population of 47 million and a territory as large as France, this EU neighbor is crucial for both Russia and the West. In addition to its natural resources, heavy industries and access to the Black Sea, Ukraine is a major transit country for Russia’s oil and gas. As witnessed last winter, events in the Ukraine have a direct impact on the stability and security of two continents. Although it has been independent since 1991, this emerging democracy has yet to form its national identity. Like many post-Soviet states, it is in the throes of an identity crisis. To gain a better understanding of Ukraine and what it means to be Ukrainian, the non-profit organization Altemus commissioned the photographers of Sputnik Photos to travel to the country and capture its ethos. To deepen this process of discovery, it also asked Ukraine’s most talented young writers to write a short essay or story on the theme of identity. Project Manager: Christine Medycky (Altemus) Photo Editor: Maria Mann (European Press Photo Agency) Curator: Rafał Milach Book design: Ania Nalecka / Tapir Book Design