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Left Behind

Alina Smutko, a photojournalist and visual storyteller reporting for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and the Crimea.Realities website, has been documenting the lives of ordinary Crimeans since 2016. A central theme of her work is the changes taking place on the peninsula since its 2014 annexation by the Russian Federation. In this series of photos taken in 2018, she reveals the struggles faced by the relatives and neighbors of Crimean Tatars arrested by Russian authorities on terrorism charges, as well as the families of Crimean Tatar activists who are missing and believed to have been abducted by Russian security services. Smutko says Crimean Tatars, most of whom are muslim, can easily fall into disfavor with the state security services, often for as little as discussing topics of interest even to apolitical muslims like the meaning of life or rituals.

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