Crimea two years on : the March 2016 Slavonic item(s) of the month

In March 2014, a referendum was held in Crimea which saw its accession to the Russian Federation formalised a couple of days later, while Ukraine and most other countries continue to consider the vote (and annexation) illegal.  Two years on, we look at the latest books to arrive from Ukraine and Russia on the topic.

Books on other aspects of recent Ukrainian political history have also, of course, been continuing to arrive.  Among the most recent is the autobiography of Nadiia Savchenko, the Ukrainian military pilot recently given a long prison sentence for her alleged role in the murder of two Russian journalists (Sil’ne im’ia Nadiia (The strong name of Nadiia [note that “nadiia” is also the word for “hope”];  C210.c.9409)) and a couple of chronologies of the Euromaidan protests (Volodymyr Shcherbak’s Mii Maidan (My Maidan;  C204.d.4618) and Sonia Koshkina’s Maidan (C210.c.9408) – the latter also contains interviews with politicians and political activists).

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Savchenko’s book (left) and Koshkina’s (right)

Below is a selection of recent publications which we have ordered which discuss Crimea.  Those which have arrived have, as in the paragraph above, their classmark hyperlinked to the book’s Newton record.  The list ends with some other 2015 publications which are on order but have yet to arrive.  The titles of these are linked to Russian- or Ukrainian-language webpages giving more information about the books.

  • The reliably opinionated Eduard Limonov’s Kiev kaput : iarostnaia kniga (Kiev is kaput : a book of rage; C204.d.4621) contains his diary entries on the subject of Ukraine from late 2013 to late 2014.  While it is hard to get over certain stylistic egocentricities (most entries, for example, end with the wholly needless words “I am Eduard Limonov” (see red highlights below)), the book does make curious reading, with huge emphasis on Crimea in the February/March/April 2014 entries in particular.201603_Limonov
  • Dnevnik russkogo ukraintsa (The diary of a Russian Ukrainian;  C210.c.9406) by Platon Besedin.  Besedin’s book is a collection of articles which discuss the recent political and military events across Ukraine in roughly chronological order, from 2013 to 2015; the events in Crimea are referred to in the book’s subtitle as the “Crimean Spring”.  Besedin is known mainly as a prose writer – the UL also holds his novel Kniga grekha (The book of sin; C203.d.2674).
  • At 45 pages, Krym v istorii Rossii (Crimea in the history of Russia; 2014.8.3182) is far shorter than most books we would order, but its subtitle (“a handbook for teachers of general educational institutions”) made this a must-have for our collections as an example of the way in which the story of Crimea is being taught in Russian schools.  It opens with an introduction titled “Together for centuries!” and covers ancient and modern Crimean history, including the 2014 referendum and thoughts about the future.
  • On the Ukrainian side, the rather mischievous 2015 publication of Slavetni bytvy : vid Donbasu do Karpat, vid Kyeva do Krymu (Glorious battles : from Donbass to the Carpathians, from Kiev to Crimea) gives the impression from its title to be an strongly pro-Ukraine book about the current crisis.  In fact, the book is purely about historical battles, from the 11th century to 1920.  The fact that the authors’ copyright dates back to 2009, however, suggested strongly that the publisher has deliberately re-issued the book to ride the wave of public sentiment – and the WorldCat record for the original version (here) indeed shows that the pagination has not changed one bit even if the title has (from the less “current” ‘Glorious battles in Ukraine from the era of princes to the early 20th century’).
  • Krym, ia liubliu tebia (Crimea, I love you; C204.d.4298) contains, as the blurb states, “excellent prose, connected in one way or another with Crimea, by 36 modern writers” (including Besedin).  This collection would normally have been dismissed out of hand – anthologies of this kind are not standardly collected.  The political backdrop, however, made this an irresistible addition to the collections.
  • Aneksiia : ostriv Krym : khroniky “hibrydnoi viiny” (Annexation : the island of Crimea : chronicles of a “hybrid war”; Kiev, 2015) by Taras Berezovets’, a “chronological examination of the period of occupation and annexation of Crimea from 18 February to 18 March 2014, based on witness statements”.
  • Istoriia Krymu v zapytanniakh ta vidpovidiakh (The history of Crimea in questions and answers; Kiev, 2015), published by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.  The questions cover topics from antiquity to the recent annexation.
  • “Krym nash!” v rossiiskom informatsionnom prostranstve (“Crimea is ours!” in the Russian media; Moscow, 2015), a brief 60-page book by V.K. Mal’kova. “Krym nash!” was the main popular slogan used in protests and elsewhere by Russians in favour of the annexation.
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Limonov’s book (left) and Besedin’s (right)

The main Library of Congress subject heading for Crimea is Crimea (Ukraine).  The qualifier (Ukraine) was not changed after the referendum and is unlikely to see a change in the near future, since LoC subject headings follow the views of Congress itself.

There are a great deal of online resources about Ukraine and about Crimea specifically.  The librarians at UCL SSEES, for example, have created an astounding compilation of primary documentation released from 2013 to 2015 by national governments and international agencies in relation to all aspects of the Ukrainian crisis.  The front page is here: http://libguides.ucl.ac.uk/ukraineguide and their specific Crimea page is here: http://libguides.ucl.ac.uk/ukraine/crimeancrisis

Mel Bach

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