Oleg Tsarev on How Life in Crimea Was Under Ukrainian Rule, and How Life Is Now

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



How was life on the peninsula under “independent” Ukraine and how is life now — this question was answered by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic, and KP asked Oleg Tsarev, the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of four convocations who lives in Crimea to comment.


So Oleg, what most of all pleases you from the data published by the government of the Crimea ?

“The fact that indicators cardinally differ from the Ukrainian period for the better. Well, for me personally it was obvious. The data coincides with the feelings of people who permanently live on the peninsula. It is clear — Russia is a richer country, it seriously invests in the peninsula. There are more constructions – both private builders and State ones. There is more investment in medicine. The launch of the bridge in general will change the situation.”

The Gross Republic Product (GRP) of Crimea grows constantly, while earlier it was close to zero. The Republic is governed better?

“Both officials and businesspeople study to work in the Russian realities. And the rotation of officials leads to improvement. But we look forward to the law on investments, when it will be adopted it will add a serious impulse, now it is being developed in the Ministry of Economy, and I hope that it will adopted by the end of the year. A similar one exists in neighbouring Krasnodar Krai.

The reconstruction of hundreds of historical buildings demands legislative development. In Moscow it is possible to rent a building for ruble and to restore it, while in Crimea it is necessary to restore it and pay the full price.

The law on privileges of land leasing for enterprises registered in the free economic zone still hasn’t been adopted. The federal legislation allows to do it, while the local regulatory base isn’t adopted. And this also would become a factor that will allow to make Crimea more attractive for investments.

The renewal of the land into property in Russian legislation causes a complaint from the residents of Sevastopol. Several thousands of people, many of which actively supported the Crimean spring, are deprived of property rights in judicial proceedings — their sites don’t suit the general plan and their land plots are taken away as State property. People are very much concerned by this.”

The real sector of the economy four years ago was a little bit more than a quarter of GRP, and now it is more than 40%. Business in large quantities comes out of the shadows, or it is such rapid growth that appeared in industrial domains?

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“Here it is both. In Crimea now there is a unique tax law – there is no sense in avoiding to pay taxes. I wrote the Tax Code of Ukraine for many years and I see a the situation from within.

In Crimea business transitions to working ‘in the white’. People are registered in the free economic zone, where taxation cardinally decreases. Taxes become very feasible. To think up schemes of tax avoidance in Crimea is more expensive than to work under the current laws. And to pay a white salary, income tax, to work according to transparent schemes. If someone didn’t make the transition, then it is those who since Ukrainian times got used to hiding their business from the State and haven’t rid themselves of fear. But the majority gradually comes out of the shadows — and this has given such growth in the real sector.”


In three years before the reunion, in Crimea 66 houses on all of the peninsula were capitally repaired, while in three years of being in Russia — 400 houses were updated capitally. Is this visible to the naked eye?

“The fact that repairs happen is noticeable, especially in comparison with the Ukrainian period. But here the reserve is considerable especially in resorts, which were chaotically built up earlier. There are too many self-constructions. Work must be increased a lot. Not 400, but 4000 houses – the figures must be like this. So that the Russians coming to Crimea see the changes.

Much was done so that beaches that were earlier closed and belonged to private structures are open to all comers. Unfortunately, especially near Big Yalta, there are a lot of departmental sanatoria whose beaches are still closed to ‘outsiders’.”

For the same period of time two and a half times more money was invested in healthcare— nearly 54 billion rubles. Crimeans remember how, under Ukrainian rule, they were hospitalized with their own bed linen and bought their medicine themselves…

“Here the situation has cardinally improved. I brought my friends from Donbass to Simferopol — in hospitals there are fresh reparations, new equipment. Three new medical centers were created – vascular, trauma, and a versatile one. It is difficult for me to compare them to hospitals in Moscow or St. Petersburg, I can only compare them to Ukrainian ones – as a Deputy of four convocations. The new Crimean centers are at a higher level. And of course nobody now comes to hospitals on the peninsula with their bed linen.”


Monetary income per capita during the “Russian period” grew by 2.5 times – from 7128 to 19,059 rubles. It seems it is necessary to rejoice, but it is said that approximately the prices have also grown on the peninsula by the same amount…

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“People really began to receive more, but the prices, indeed, have also jumped up. But here there is an obvious reserve — this same agriculture. It’s development will give the chance not only to stabilize food prices, but also to reduce them! Intensive agriculture and drip irrigation will yield a surprising harvest.

As for the prices of communal flats – they didn’t increase too much. The cost of gas and heating in Russia is lower than in Ukraine. But here the electric power is for some reason is not much cheaper…”

Unemployment decreased fourfold – to 0.5%. How with such growth of the economy has the problem of cadres been solved?

“The situation in the labor market is influenced by natives from Donbass — they like and are able to work, their demands are modest. And among Crimean employers someone who arrived from Donetsk or Lugansk bears a sign of quality, it means they will diligently work. Many employers pay patents and try to provide visitors with housing — all this pays off.”

The number of registered crimes decreased almost by a third. Crime leaves Crimea “for the continent” — to Kuban and the south of Ukraine?

“Ukraine is a specific State. Many types of illegal business were controlled by those bodies that were supposed to stop them. In particular, gambling today is under Avakov and the Azov battalion. But in Crimea law enforcement bodies are engaged in real suppression of offenses. I know when new employees of the FSB arrived, they were surprised by the fact that those who worked here during the time under Ukraine were forced to independently provide office equipment and other things for their activity (i.e. at the expense of the business). Now the State completely supplies the police, customs, and Prosecutor’s Office with everything that is necessary. It gives a free hand to the controlling structures — they already don’t depend on business and carry out tasks, which they have to carry out according to the law. To bring order. Street crime, by the way, has decreased too.”

In agriculture growth is small. Or we should rejoice in this too, considering the blocking of the water supply and continuous power outages until last year?

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“The figures are slightly worse than expected. Here there is an area to develop at the expense of gardens and farms. A direct dependence on the blocking of the water supply from Ukraine and previous interruptions in the power supply exist. But there is also a project on how to provide Crimean landowners with water — everything that is now dumped in the sea through purification stations can be direct towards watering. Drain waters (after purification) alone will be enough in order to replace the Ukrainian volumes of water.”

Introduction of the bridge will change the situation sharply?

“Crimeans expect a growth in the inflow of vacationers. They will be simply forced to work on an accelerated development of agriculture: for such a number of vacationers there will be a need for more products, it is just impossible to deliver so much ‘from the continent’ or from abroad. There will be many more cars — besides federal highways there will be a need to work also with other roads, after all, now Balaklava is closed for travel. Is Yalta in the queue? It will be necessary to build parking everywhere and to widen the roads. Along with an inflow of vacationers in cars – it is possible to predict traffic jams like in Moscow. Everybody understands that a growth of the economy of the peninsula next year from the introduction of a car segment of the bridge will be obligatory. And in one year the railroad will be launched, and not only the European part of the country, but all of Russia will come, and growth on the peninsula will continue.”

In the report specific data about roads isn’t visible…

“On the one hand, many roads are under construction, and also being repaired. On the other hand there are also problems. Here in this sphere some things at the time of Ukraine were solved for a few weeks. And now they aren’t solved for the second year. The Tsar’s Path in Yalta had a collapse, and it has already been more than a year that this place must be bypassed. The road is closed. There is a similar situation with the lower detour road in Yalta…”

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