A former Ticonderoga High School exchange student is among those fighting for Ukrainian sovereignty. Asan Kenzhametov, third from left, attended Ti High during the 2000-2001 academic year as an exchange student from Ukraine.
A former Ticonderoga High School exchange student is among those fighting for Ukrainian sovereignty.
Asan Kenzhametov attended Ti High during the 2000-2001 academic year as an exchange student from Ukraine. He lived with the Arzberger family on Lake George Avenue.
He’s now active in his country’s efforts to repel Russian involvement in his native land. Russia has taken control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, prompting international condemnation.
“Friends! I ask everybody to take a minute aside and pray for Crimea in Ukraine and peace in Ukraine!,” Kenzhametov posted on Facebook. “I’m here in Crimea, Ukraine. And, unlike before, there’s a smell of war in the air that’s becoming more and more vivid... Dear sweet friends, this war has all chances to go global and effect all of us. What can ordinary people like us do to influence the situation? PRAYER is the best.”
Kenzhametov also posted several photos of himself and others protesting against the Russian incursion.
Kenzhametov didn’t seem particularly interested in politics while in Ticonderoga, said Steve Arzberger, who hosted him.
“He was a quite kid, a good guy,” Arzberger said. “He liked living here. At the end he wanted to stay in the U.S., but that wasn’t part of the program. He was very bright.”
After pro-Western protesters forced the pro-Russian government out of office earlier this month, the Russian military moved into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The peninsula is Russia’s primary access to the Black Sea and home to Russian naval forces.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin claims the majority of Crimean residents favor becoming part of Russia. Putin supports a March 16 public referendum planned by Crimea’s regional assembly on splitting from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Kenzhametov believes that vote is a sham.
“Latest facts indicate that over the last days thousands of citizens of Russia have come to Crimea ‘to work’ (some of them sincerely) by going around the city centers and waving flags of Russia and organizing provocations, and the main goal of all of this is to create an image of Crimea ‘begging to join Russia’...” Kenzhametov said via Facebook. “While polls in January 2014 indicated that 41 percent of Crimeans were in favour of joining Russia. Now that percentage has decreased because many were disgusted by the amount of lies and falsehood by Russian side and the military occupation of Crimea.
“Putin has organized a big theater play in Crimea, don’t believe the liar!,” he said. “Crimea is a part of the free democratic UKRAINE forever!”
Leaders of Ukraine have vowed not to cede any part of their nation’s territory to Russia.
Pro-Russian forces tightened their grip on Crimea by laying siege to the last military airfield under Ukrainian control there this week and trying to seize control of other military installations in the strategically important region, a Ukrainian defense spokesman said. Residents proclaimed their loyalty to Ukraine or Russia in competing rallies, which produced some scuffles.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, thousands of people clutching blue-and-yellow national flags poured onto the streets to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, their country’s most famous poet and an ardent nationalist. Laying flowers at a statue of Shevchenko, acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk declared that he would not give up “one centimeter of Ukrainian land.”