By FOX News Radio’s Alastair Wanklyn in the Crimean capital of Simferopol
They are the folks who stormed the Crimea, weeks after they were given permission by Kiev’s new government.
They say they came to protest Russia’s annexation of their nation.
When we come to the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, every once in a while I get a sense of the wilder times of the long-running battle between Kiev and Moscow.
The words that strike me as most Soviet by the way are “uusev zlatarev” (colonial).
“You see, it’s only a modern country,” says one tourist waiting for a ship to take him off the peninsula.
After we arrive, Crimea’s local government shuts down our site, saying it has not authorized us. So I wait for an hour, when they finally relent and let us film in front of the notorious Soviet-era azboryostka or political prison.
There’s no telltale police presence, no bands of masked militants who routinely march through Sevastopol.
But there are still signs of the old Russia-Ukraine divide.
On a staircase, I can see a painting of a soldier on horseback being attacked by a bear.
Just across the border from the fort that guards it, Crimea is being treated as part of Russia.
The Russian flag waves in both capitals, and it’s clearly flagrant propaganda.
We wander the museum and its gift shop to pick up souvenirs to hand to our local guides and crew.
And on a street corner, a group of young men are out playing football.
One of them is in a Boogie Nights T-shirt.
They tell me it’s called birrotevo in Russian, or house playing.
The youth of Ukraine also speak only Russian and want Ukraine to join the Russian Federation.
“Oh yes, definitely,” says the 18-year-old player.
We have a hard time convincing the rest of them it’s possible and we fear Russia might raise Russia-Ukraine flags on the battleground.
But they’re being a bit more flexible.
For now, when asked about the Easter holiday, they say that one of them owns a shop with balloons, flowers and big clock which seems at odds with the annexation of their country.
Outside my hotel, we find a shop with pieces of plastic as decorations, including one bought in a supermarket – a head with a Russian flag and a Ukrainian flag wrapped around it.
But, a real work of art.
Listen below to some of our reporting on this story:
Fox News Radio’s Alastair Wanklyn reports from the Crimean capital of Simferopol.