Podrig Megra. Photo from the personal Facebook page
Three years ago, when the border of Ukraine with Crimea already was bulging at the seams, the Irish teachers of English Podrig Megra was going by the train Prague – Kiev – Simferopol to the Peninsula with sixty kilograms of philosophical books. He came to the well-loved Crimea to an old friend and in search of new sensations after nine years of living in the Czech Republic. The Crimean Tatar culture, local food and traditions entrenched in the soul of the impressionable Irishman so deeply, that now he does not reflect about moving somewhere else. Here he does what he likes, enjoys life and explains to anyone who doubts the Crimea that is a Paradise on Earth.
About the Crimean referendum
– Over period of three years I have had thousands of conversations with locals about things political. I think that now I know the situation from the inside, I know the opinions of the people living here. And I understand that the referendum was political legitimacy.
About the attitude of Crimeans toward Maidan
– February 21, 2014 Turchinov said in a speech in Parliament and spoke about the necessity to forbid the Russian language in business and communications… I think this moment changed attitude of Crimeans towards Maidan.
– I feel some of civilizational change in the Crimea now. Despite the fact that the Crimean cultural basis was always Russian, now the majority of the Crimean people consciously become more Russian than they were before.
– Many Crimeans grumble at corruption. But I don’t agree with it. Corruption is an universal problem. It is everywhere – in Ireland, the Czech Republic, the European Union… Corruption was destroying Ireland for many years. Now a 4 million people are living there, who have a national debt 184 billion euros. Why corruption had destroyed Ireland and had not destroyed Russia? Because you have a competent political class. The incapacity is worse than corruption.
About the cultural values
– The majority of Crimeans believe that is better to have a large and high quality library, University, cultural infrastructure, musical theatre in the main square of the city… It is much more important than material values. Most of Crimeans have the right priorities. I like it.
Photo by: Anton Volk / The Crimean newspaper
About the young people
– Crimean youth are less narrow-minded, greenhouse and naive than in Western Europe. If you ask fifteen-year-old Frenchman what he thinks about the rights of the LGBT community, he says: “This is an important political issue.” If you ask about the same some fifteen-year-old Crimean, he will say: “I don’t care about it. What I really care about is whether Alaska in 40 years becomes our” (laughing). Crimean youth are more practical.
About the stereotypes
– Many people who have never been in Western countries believe that everything there is so good, comfortable for living, and so on. When I meet locals they ask me the first thing: “How is in Ireland?” I respond to all of them: “Ireland is the devastating black hole” (laughing). It becomes a surprise for them when I talk about the difficulties of life of four million Irish people.
– In Ireland the food is of poor quality. You have enough sun, and this means that wheat grown in the Crimea is durum and here is a very good bread. In Ireland bread is “cotton wool”. The quality of many of the Crimean products is much higher than in Ireland.
About plans for the future
– I’d like to stay here. I like to live in the Crimea. When I came here I was told that it is home to 170 ethnic groups, now – 171. I’m Irish Crimean (laughing).
– 95% of Crimean residents are very heartful and sincere. It’s never boring in dealing with people, because the subjects of conversation are never banal – politics, economics, history, sometimes philosophy and theology… You appreciate literacy. Russian culture is the intellectual culture. This means that when people talk about history and economics they have something to say. The Irish have not. The Irish are “farmers” (laughing).
About the ideology
– Nevsky Cathedral in the center of Simferopol (the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. – Ed.) and standing in front of it the monument to the Great Patriotic War (T-34. – Ed.) is a very interesting ideological synthesis of Orthodoxy and Soviet patriotism. And I think this is the main synthetic ideology that defines modern Russia.
About the propaganda
– Irish people read too much Western propaganda. My friends believe me when I tell them about the Crimea. But I think the majority of Irish have limited knowledge about the Crimea. Maybe three years ago when Ukraine, Crimea, Russia were at the top of the news they were interested in what is happening here. But after curiosity quiet down.
– Bakhchysarai, Belogorsk, Sevastopol, Eupatoria, Alushta, Novy Svet – I have been in many places in the Crimea. Most impressed Bakhchysarai – Chufut-Kale and the Bakhchysarai Cave Monastery. And Chersonesus.
– Sometimes Crimeans complicate simple things. In this point they are similar with the Irish, and Czech. You even have the expression “make an elephant out of musca”. Probably the only people who don’t complicate things are the Germans. They leave simple a simple. This is unusual occurrence. And the fact that Crimeans are not work addicted is good one. It means that they are thoughtful people and need time to “think”. If a person wants to develop a deep intellect, need to be a little lazy. The work addict always has a superficial intellect.
About the Crimea joining to Russia
– I knew nothing about the political and historical context of the region when I moved to the Crimea. When it taught students in the Crimea in January 2014, I asked their opinion about events in Ukraine. I asked once: “What adjective will you choose for identification – “Crimean”, “Russian”, “Ukrainian” or “Crimean Tatar”?” The largest group responded – the Crimean, the second largest group Russian, third — Crimean Tatar and the only one person from twenty answered “Ukrainian”. It became clear immediately that the Crimea never really was a part of Ukraine but simply lived under its administration.