Andrey Sobolev: ‘’Feeling for the homeland cannot be measured by any figures"
Tribune's guest is a member of the Federation Council Committee on Education, Science and Culture. He represents the federal city of Sevastopol in the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament. Andrey Sobolev is the author of 12 music albums, the founder and president of the annual international festival ‘Balaklava Vacation’, which has been held in Sevastopol since 1999, and since May 2009 he has been a co-founder and member of the Council of the People's Front ‘Defend Sevastopol’. The meeting began with Sobolev’s performance of his own song ‘We're Going Home’ on guitar
- Andrey Nikolayevich, does creativity help you as a politician?
- When we were a part of Ukraine we created a variety of associations, clubs, societies, in which we preached only one thing – we wanted our memory, history and truth to be the main achievement, the main measure. And we did everything possible and impossible for this. Songs were written, newspapers published, festivals were held. Everything was permeated with love for Russia and preservation of the historical feat that was achieved by Sevastopol and all of Russia on this peninsula. I have had four books of my poems published during this time. I publish the newspaper ‘Sevastopol’, this is my brainchild, to which I have devoted 25 years of my life. The period that we lived in as a part Ukraine was not useless. It was not just a period of struggle, but a formative period for us as it was for citizens of Russia.
- Was the song ‘We're Going Home’ written in that same period?
- It was born on March 6th, when the city council session announced the decision that we would vote to join Russia. 49 deputies were in favor of voting on a referendum for Russia. It shocked me so much that I wrote this song in an hour, recorded it on the phone and immediately posted it on the internet. This song was heard throughout the days before the referendum in all areas of the city. I am glad that one of my works gathered people on the square, and people were singing in one impulse, realizing that we were back home. Similarly, the song of Alexander Gorodnitski ‘Sevastopol Will Remain Russian’. Since 2007, this song roused the residents of Sevastopol, warmed them. This song was heard throughout the days before the referendum, and it is heard right now as well. This is the second national anthem of Sevastopol.
- Crimea and Sevastopol have been a part of the Russian Federation for two years now. The transition period is officially over. How tightly has it managed to integrate into the Russian reality?
- When a person gets married, the first month is a honeymoon, but he is not so enthusiastic after two years. We are living in a normal environment of the Russian legislation and the Russian economy, but in the realities of a blockade. Crimea today is an island state. The water and electricity are blocked, the ports are closed. Thank God the airport is operating. It makes us more focused, we are more realistic. Today the assessment is more blanaced. It is not easy to integrate into Russian society, even in a legislative way. Engineers who operate today with the term ’strength of materials’, mechanics, nothing has changed in their lives, but, for example, for the officials who operate with the documents, much has changed. We must learn to live according to the Russian standards in all respects. This now poses new challenges for us. We understand how far we are behind on many issues.
The issues related to the documents, the purchase or legalization of someone’s property, property rights, are not solved that easily. Ukraine withdrew all the registers from Crimea. It is a fresh start for us. Even the feeling that you can cross the border and maybe not return, and we have a lot of these cases already, causes a feeling of discomfort.
But there are many positive moments. First of all, there is the feeling of the homeland. It cannot be measured by any figures, no meters, cubic meters, hectares, nothing can measure it. This is the most important thing. There are problems, but these are our native Russian problems, against which we are going to fight as a whole country. The whole of Russia helps Crimea, we can upload whole report sheets about what has been done for any industry, we have not done everything yet. Often to use the resources that Russia is ready to provide Crimea is physically impossible. There are certain timeframes, an institutional framework.
But everyday examples are more convincing than economic calculations.
After our victory my song was born:
My friend is a resident of Kiev.
My friend and I argued very often,
We would talk about history.
Our conversation often turns into a dispute.
He said offensive words to me,
That Russia is often wrong,
Oppressive to Ukraine and rude,
That is why they have a fight with Russia.
I responded: "We brought you culture
And gave you a lot of land,
We fought together, shed our blood.
So why do not you like Russians? "
Yes, we pinched a little Bandershtadt.
So in fact it was so many years ago!"
That is why my friend is so angry about Russia,
I am a 'moscal' for him, he's a khokhol for me.
We left our lands in spring,
Like a ship from a harbor,
We put our lives at stake for the island.
Who turned out to be right — me or him?
We changed coats of arms and passports.
My friend insisted: "You will live in poverty!
You are definitely wrong to leave us,
Almost the whole world is against you, bear this in mind! "
So many weeks have past,
Life is not rich yet, but fun.
We experienced both joy and fear.
I met once with my old friend.
I found out that he bought a flat in Crimea.
Which of us was right, I did not understand.
My old friend taught me so many years.
And I found out that he got a passport with an eagle
The prices for real estate in Crimea are close to Moscow’s, demand has appeared, we have a surplus of tourists, sometimes we cannot cope with the flow of tourists. Another thing is that the conditions do not correspond to what the Russians are accustomed to in Egypt, or Cyprus. But we will improve. In general, we live a full, productive life. I invite you all to visit, all our listeners and all our viewers! Come to Crimea, look with your own eyes.
- Indeed, are there cases when citizens of Ukraine receive Russian passports?
- Of course. You know, when it happened [the reunification of Crimea with Russia], my Ukrainian friends’ reaction was: "How we envy you guys!" They equated us to people who had received a British passport. A Russian passport was very cool.
Russian communities, Russian centers, Russian society communicate pretty close with the consulate. Russia helped. I asked to correct the Russian passport as a friend, but I was answered in a very dry, state and nasty tone: "Andrei Nikolayevich, this is not possible, this is a very complicated procedure. It is necessary to have a number of options and reasons why you can get a Russian passport, because you will have higher pensions, and so on. " A whole bunch of preferences was enumerated later. We looked with envy at our former residents of Sevastopol, who settled in St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Ural and became the Russian citizens.
Then the events in Donbas started, the Western ideologues turned us into the enemies, into the pro-Putin gang, as they say. Now we have what we have. But they are well aware that Russia is cool. Many of our colleagues in Ukraine are wrong, these citizens, who today are hoarding a rage. It is necessary to live with a goodness. The goodness is the main thing in the world. We are already fed up with anger for so many centuries.