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Around 700 miles from Crimea, Moscow residents ponder the impact its annexation will have on their lives. NBC News’ Albina Kovalyova reports.
Acclaimed author Ludmila Ulitskaya, 71, is worried by Russia’s takeover of Crimea and what she fears is the start of a new Cold War.
"The ownership of Crimea has always historically been a difficult question. The fact that this was done now and the way it was done really does not make me happy. It will be an event that will not be favorable for Russia in the next few years. Will Russia be able to ensure a quality of life for Crimea that it had before it joined Russia? It is unknown. The whole civilized world is seeing this as an annexation and a take-over."
"There have been several statements that I think have been completely unnecessary, and exclusively threatening, and the results of these are a Cold War. And God forbid it becomes a hot war."
"We cannot speak about pride now, because we have completely lost face. All these events have caused us to lose face and the world has lost respect for us...on the other hand we live here and this is our country. In order for it not to be so shameful, we need to speak about the different opinions that exist in this country, that are not like that of the state. So that the world would know that not all of Russia is united by an impulse to turn the world into radioactive dust, and to show that a large amount of people do not like this, and do not like this rhetoric."
Author Ulitskaya continues: "There has already been such a powerful history of repressions in our county. There is no guarantee that this will not happen again. But we can at least now choose to go West."
"It is shameful to live in fear. We were taught to be brave and jump over hurdles ... and open up the world. I understand that some people who can -- they buy a ticket and leave. Others, who feel ashamed, decide to stay to make things better in their own country. You need courage for both these actions."
Natalia, 20, is studying to train children with learning disabilities. She supports Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
"I think that Crimea becoming part of Russia is a good thing. I don’t really know the history of it, but if Crimea used to be part of Russia, why not give it back?"
"My family has no kin in Ukraine, but we used to go there a lot. And I am frightened of what may happen."
Student Natalia continues: "There are rumors that Americans were financing the events in Ukraine. But why do they need this? There have always been stand-offs between America and Russia and so, why not get closer to Russia?"
"In Russia there is a uniting idea that sets us apart from others. It is something that is inside all of us... It’s is like a Russian soul. We don’t behave like others."
A Former Police Officer
Alexander Malishev, 46, works as a printer, but used to work in the special unit of the Interior Ministry. He does not believe in democracy.
"I think that there is no Russian role in what is going on in Ukraine, at all. In the 1990s, everyone was fixated on finding their direction and wanted their own independence, although it was not clear from what, because the Soviet system ended."
Former police officer Malishev continues: "There is no national idea at the moment. But it is needed. I don’t know what it should be because we were brought up on ideals of self-development, on movement forward. But we missed a whole generation -- who now dream only of making money. We will need to think very hard how people can be reached. I believe that monarchy would be the ideal option for us... there is no such thing as democracy."
Vera Alekseyevna Solyankina, 80, is a former teacher who delivered mail to boost her post-retirement income.
"There is a Russian saying: 'There was unhappiness, but then a misfortune helped things along.' The events in Ukraine were a misfortune, but then Crimea was returned. I don’t think that Ukraine and Russia are separate countries. It is very hard for me to separate them. That is not because I want to take it over. It’s because this country is part of ours."
"There is an information war going on. The U.S. wants to be the main ones in charge and give orders to the rest of the world."
Solyankina continues: "I don’t want the country to return to Communism, which in the end, had reached a bad point.
"Russia has its own special path. Its not Western or Eastern -- but its own. What we have now is more or less all right. We don’t have a national idea, but we need one. The idea should be: the most just society in the world and the richest."
"Maybe that is what is driving the country forward -- the hope that something good will come. But there is no foundation that we can see for this."
Evgeny Streltsov, 35, owns an online clothing store. He is worried that the sanctions against Russia will affect him.
"I think that the isolation is already beginning. At the moment, they are focusing on the government officials and corrupt figures, and everyone promises that it will not affect average Russians. But our state is such that we will build up an Iron Curtain ourselves."
"There are no rules or laws. I have no certainty that I will not get closed down after they read this article. I have no rights, and I am no one, unless I am close to the trough, I don’t exist."
Businessman Streltsov continues: "I feel uneasy. I think the situation is going to get worse and worse and we are moving towards dictatorship. We have an elite, which makes a lot of money, and a mid-level that feeds off of the elite, but no one needs small business in such a dictatorial system."
Tatyana Nitcheko, 37, is a hairdresser who teaches beauty to students.
"My job is to make the world beautiful and to teach people how to do this job well, and to be polite to others. Politicians have their own job to do, and it’s better that they are the ones who do it."
"I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we are moving towards a superpower, but I hope not too much. Otherwise, there may be a war."
Hairdresser Nitcheko continues: "Maybe history needs its own Hitler ... again. I don’t believe that people can go vote or fight without leaders. Revolutions were led by leaders like Alexander the Great ... Napoleon or Lenin."
"Our leader is a different man and he knows how to influence people’s minds in a different way. He does it while having a total alibi, and with an innocent face. And people just fall into this trap, willingly. But he has had special training for this."
The Street Cleaner
Buzrukhon Akramjan, 51, is a street cleaner who moved from Uzbekistan to Moscow in 2002, after serving in the Afghanistan war. He looks back with longing towards the Soviet Union.
"Ukrainian people are not to blame for what is going on, it’s the politicians who are responsible. It was Russian territory before. The referendum showed over 90 percent voted to become part of Russia."
Street cleaner Akramjan continues: "We were born in the Soviet Union and we want to live in the Soviet Union again. So that people can visit each other and talk to each other freely and so that there were no separate states and that there are no borders. I want all of the former Soviet republics to become part of Russia again. But it is people who chose the unity, not Russia."
Olga Svyantsiskaya, 68, is a teacher who fears that the Crimea incursion will drain the needed money from the Russia’s public sector.
"My favorite subject is English where we learn about the world and everything, and we are aiming to educate a responsible citizen of the world. This means that we talk about all the problems of the world. And I love it when my students forget about the grammar and get involved in debates."
"Here’s the awful thing: the better we teach English, the faster the students go abroad. Many say honestly, ‘We need to get out, we need to get out.’ I see how difficult it is to get a job here."
Teacher Svyantsiskaya continues: "We will keep trying to do the best we can and we will keep going to demonstrations. We will continue to live and read books. I remember thinking: as long as we have books, we can keep living. All we can do is talk about how totalitarianism is bad and violence is bad, and books are good and thinking is good."
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