With the annexation of Crimea Russian law was introduced on the peninsula - and so therapy with substitute drugs for addicts was banned. The effects are dramatic: every tenth patient already died on the consequences. Only a few are able to escape to Ukraine, where replacement drugs and rehabilitation programs are still administered. Portrait of Igor Kuzmenko, social worker and activist, minutes before catching a train at Kiev Central Station.
Crimea is Russia again, now for almost a year. When in March the invasion by Russian troops was pseudo-legalized by referendum, many crimean tatars thought about leaving the peninsula, more than 10,000 of the approximately 300,000 Crimean Tatars have probably left Crimea in the months after the referendum. People on the streets of Simferopol and Sevastopol seem satisfied, again and again, you hear people say that they are satisfied that Crimea again reached the safe haven of Russia, despite all the difficulties, despite the inflation of the Russian currency, despite the rising costs of living. Beneath the surface, but there is also bare fear, again, critical journalists report of abductions and extortion. Of course, no one dares to speak in front of a camera. A holy mass we visited in a Simferopol community that is subordinate to the Patriarchate of Kiev, keeps their liturgical celebrations without official announcement, sandbags are stacked in the stairwell, after the annexation in March 2014 the members of the community suffered attacks. On the peninsula, there is a feeling of isolation, Crimea is cut off from the outside world, Ukraine has severed all connections. The ferry from Kerch to port Kavkaz in winter is the only connection to the Russian mainland, often the passage is not navigable because of severe storms, people pushing daily in long lines on the ferries. Crippling gridlock, especially in the peripheral areas. We visited a tuberculosis hospital located near Kerch in the East of the peninsula. It's weekend, some of the seriously ill patients moving slowly through the dark corridors, like ghosts, staff seems to be absent, the patients seem left to themselves. In another village near Kerch, dominated by a huge monument to the liberation of Kerch by red-army-troops in Second World War, there is no water supply, people have to get drinking water from locals shops, carrying heavy canisters back home. On March 17, the referendum marks anniversary, how will it continue for the people of Crimea?