This is one of three routes through the narrow isthmus that connects the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine, and it is also Crimean activist Lenur Islyamov’s road home.
When Russia annexed Crimea following an internationally condemned referendum last March, Chonhar became a de facto international border crossing for passengers and goods from and to Ukraine.
Now the small roadside village serves as headquarters for a blockade led by Islyamov and enforced by an unlikely alliance of Ukrainian nationalists, international military brigades and Crimea’s indigenous people, the Crimean Tatars, who hope starving the peninsula of goods, services and power will eventually return it to Ukraine. “We were in a desperate situation; Ukraine had forgotten about Crimea and the Crimean Tatars… So we made the decision that Ukraine should remember Crimea, and we should constantly remind it,” Islyamov told the Kyiv Post. “We had to take a fighting position, otherwise we can’t say we are worthy of Crimea.”