The conflicted loyalties of Crimeans
Introduction by Michael Birnbaum and photos by Misha Friedman, Published: March 12, 2015
What happens when you’re born a Soviet citizen, grow up under the Ukrainian flag, and then have to take a Russian passport? Residents of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea have been tied to three nations in the last 24 years, without ever having to move. Under such shifting and unpredictable allegiances, their ideas about nationality and patriotism are complex by necessity.
Last year, when offered the chance to join with Russia, many citizens accepted with enthusiasm even as the Tatar and Ukrainian minorities feared for their futures. Many ethnic Russian residents of Crimea turned toward the Kremlin with great expectations. Living conditions would improve, and the persistent neglect they felt under Ukrainian rule would soon be shaken. Reality, as happens so frequently, turned out differently.
Ahead of the anniversary of the referendum on March 16, photographer Misha Friedman recently traveled to Crimea to talk to residents about nationalism and patriotism.