Vasili Chernovsov's father was Russian. His mother was Ukrainian. But he has no doubt about what the status of the Crimean region of Ukraine should be.
“I see both sides,” the 50-year resident of Tallinn said. “But Crimea is the territory of Russia. It is not Ukrainian territory.”
Roughly 150 people of similar beliefs rallied in Lembitu Park on Friday afternoon, in support of the Russian army’s move into Crimea after Ukraine's pro-Kremlin leader Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by its parliament on February 22.
Chernovsov served in the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea, before being transferred to the Baltic Fleet. He has lived in Tallinn for “about 50 years,” and since the Soviet Union dissolved, holding one of Estonia’s grey “aliens” passports.
“That f'''ing (Nikita) Khrushchev gave it away,” Chernovsov said of Crimea, seemingly turning the former Soviet general secretary’s name into an expletive, as well. “Now we have a big problem, we all can agree.”
Victor Svistunov, an Estonian citizen, also had strong words for Khrushchev, who transferred the peninsula to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, saying that it should have remained part of the Russian SSR in the first place.
“Now the (Estonian) government supports those fascists in the Western Ukraine,” Svistunov said, who is an Estonian citizen and has lived in Tallinn since 1956. “We’re here to support Crimea. Not only the Russians, but also the Ukrainians and the Tatars."
“Crimea has been the territory of Russia, not Ukrainian territory. It was given away by Krushchev. Long live Crimea!”
Various speakers took turns addressing the crowd from behind a portable podium in the center of the park with an electrified bullhorn.
Although support of the Crimean intervention was the main theme, participants also addressed what they saw as a creeping “invasion of the Russian world” from Western nations. The splitting of Kosovo from Serbia was brought up several times, as was the hypocrisy of the West in other interventions, such as ignoring Saudi Arabia’s 2011 intervention in a political uprising in Bahrain.
Sergei Tõdõjakov, one of the organizers of the rally, told the assembled group that the Russian people are what are important, because one day their leaders “may have billions in a suitcase and be gone,” like Yanukovych.
“We are in solidarity with the Crimean population, the Russian population,” Tõdõjakov said later, of the move to integrate Crimea into Russia. “The American people like to live together, the German people like to live together. The Jews – it’s simple.”
“The Russian people need solidarity. The Russian people have more power than one president. I don’t like Putin so much, because he doesn’t look out for the simple people. Because the president is one (person), but tomorrow, it’s someone else. But the Russian people will be here a long time."