Ukrainians in Russia feel chill after Russia’s annexation of Crimea

All the talk of Russians feeling pressure in Ukraine is blatant hypocrisy.

The lives of two million Ukrainians in Russia have become more difficult after Russia’s seizure of Crimea and a new government in Kyiv that the Kremlin does not recognize as legitimate, after the EuroMaidan Revolution toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22.

But some Ukrainians in Russia say that life was never easy for them. Ukrainians constitute some 2 million – or roughly 2 percent – of the Russian Federation’s 143 million people.

While everyday life and communication with friends and relatives has not changed much, some Ukrainians say they face negative attitudes toward Ukraine as a sovereign nation. The animosity is fueled by unrelenting Kremlin propaganda that is anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian and reflected in Russia’s state-controlled or state-censored news media.

Nowadays in Russia, Ukrainians have neither national schools nor any Ukrainian press.

“While we are the largest diaspora in Russia, the attitude towards us has always been the worst,” says Victor Hirzhov, an executive secretary of the Ukrainian Congress in Russia, co-chairman of the regional public organization Ukrainians of Moscow.

Hirzhov explains that, in 2010, Moscow police confiscated 50 Ukrainian fiction books from the only Ukrainian library. Officers justified the seizure by saying the books contain signs of ethnic radicalism, which is against the law.