“The Circus Is Gone, But the Clowns Stayed”

(p. A1) SHCHYOLKINO, Crimea — When residents in this typical Soviet factory town voted enthusiastically to secede from Ukraine and to become Russians, they thought the chaos and corruption that made daily life a struggle were a thing of the past.
Now that many of them are being forced to cook and boil drinking water on open fires, however, they are beginning to reconsider.
There has been no steady electricity supply in this hard-hit town since Nov. 22, when protesters in Ukraine blew up the lines still feeding Crimea with most of its electric power. The bigger towns and cities are only marginally better off.
Yet, people here are not sure whom to blame more for their predicament: the Crimean Tatar activists and Ukrainian nationalists who cut off Crimea’s link to the Ukrainian power grid or the local government officials who claimed to have enough power generators stored away to handle such an emergency.
“The circus is gone, but the clowns stayed,” said Leonid Zakharov, 45, leaning on a wooden cane. Moscow may have purged Ukrainian authority, he said, but many of the same corrupt and incompetent officials remained in office and life was only slightly less chaotic than before.
. . .
As often happens in Russia, some blame Washington rather than Moscow or Kiev.
“If it wasn’t for the Americans none of it could have happened. The Tatars, who are supported by the United States, would not do a thing,” said Tatyana Bragina, 57, an energetic woman who also once worked construction at a nearby, unfinished nuclear plant.
“Please write that we are not desperate. On the contrary, we are full of joy,” Ms. Bragina said, standing near a black iron kettle boiling away in the courtyard of her apartment block.

For the full story, see:
IVAN NECHEPURENKO. “Months After Russian Annexation, Hopes Start to Dim in Crimea.” The New York Times (Weds., DEC. 2, 2015): A4 & A12.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 1, 2015, and has the title “Months After Russian Annexation, Hopes Start to Dim in Crimea.”)

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