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Video: Crimea's 'Russification' in full swing

France 24

Changing nationalities isn’t always easy. Six months ago, in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, in a referendum that Western powers deemed illegal. Now, the rouble has replaced the hryvnia, and Ukrainian license plates are becoming a thing of the past. Crimeans are torn between excitement and fear. Many are happy to surrender their Ukrainian passports, but some have other ideas…

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In Crimea, the “transition period” - as Crimeans call it - is not completed yet, but “russification” is in full swing. Official documents, currency, public companies and banks have now all become Russian. This happened very quickly, as if Moscow wanted to make the unification with Russia impossible to reverse or question.

On the ground, it’s difficult to imagine that just a few months ago, this peninsula on the Black Sea coast was Ukrainian. Crimea has embraced its new nationality with enthusiasm and few people denounce the new status quo. We met some pro-Kiev activists, but it was hard to convince them to speak on camera. They didn’t want to be recognised, for fear of reprisals. They eventually agreed to meet us in a park near Simferopol. They told us that Crimeans were not offered a real choice and have the feeling that they are foreigners in their own country.

But the large majority of Crimeans we interviewed do not regret having changed flags from Ukrainian to Russian. They place all their trust in Moscow and its financial support: 150 billion euros in five years for the jewel that is Crimea, which Putin wanted so badly.

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