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The small airport at Simferopol had already been renovated as everything was clean and freshly painted. We made our way out into the night, which wasn’t the plan. Our original flight had been cancelled so we had to wait for another flight and got in five hours later than expected.
The overpowering stench of old cigarette smoke nearly suffocated me when we got into the taxi — a major contrast to Moscow where, as a result of the government’s anti-smoking campaign of the last few years, there weren’t that many smokers and those who were around had to do the deed outside.
As I rolled down the window for some relief, Sharon exchanged pleasantries with our driver — where we were from, etc. I asked her to ask him in Russian what he thought of Crimea’s reunification with Russia. He summed up, in broken English, what many people I talked to over the next couple of days would say: “Historically and ethnically, we are Russian, so it’s better to be with Russia than Ukraine.” But he also acknowledged that there were still plenty of problems that needed to be addressed and that it would take time; but under the leadership of Russia, they now had hope.
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