Today Crimea is voting to join Russia in a local referendum. We all know the result, 100% or even 150% will be in favour.
The referendum is being held under an armed occupation.
Voters only have two options: join Russia immediately or revert back to the 1992 constitution when Crimea was declared independent. No option to stay with Ukraine.
The ethnic Russian population of Crimea makes up 59% with many in favour of joining up with Russia. However there are also the indigenous Crimean Tatars (13% of the population) who are very much against breaking away having suffered immensely under Russian rule firstly with Catherine the Great who demolished mosques across the peninsular resulting in many Tatars fleeing. Then came Stalin who deported the entire population of 250000 accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. Half of them died and others remained in exile until the Soviet Union collapsed when they gradually started returning to their homeland. The Ukrainian population of 25% is also against splitting from Ukraine.
Whether there is a majority of Russians living there or not doesn’t make a difference, Crimea is part of Ukraine and has been since 1954.
If Crimea chooses to join Russia in a legal NATIONAL referendum, then Russia can legitimately claim it as it’s own. Ukraine’s constitution only allows national referendums, any local referendum is thus void.
Since Putin follows his own rules, a legal referendum is obviously out of the questions. Voting will be done Russian style: rigging, bribing, intimidating, and a full on army to ensure a favourable result.
Friday 28th February, 6000 Russian soldiers landed in Crimea. This takeover had already begun days earlier with gangs of armed men blockading the Parliament and roads. The two airports were taken over and then Ukrainian military bases. Only when Crimea was under complete lockdown did Putin admit Russian soldiers were involved.
The radically pro-Russian leader Sergey Aksyonov (whose Russian Unity Party only won 4% support in the last regional election) replaced the Crimean Prime Minister. Then as the parliament remains under siege by armed men, MPs vote to have a referendum May 25th, then pushed forward to March 30th and then to March 16th.
The puppet PM called on Russia for help asking for military intervention to protect Crimea from nationalist radicals in Ukraine. Russia eagerly obliged and the Kremlin gave Putin the godhead to send 25000 soldiers to Ukraine.
Having already sneaked a load of men into Crimea to secure the area, another load openly invade.
Russia has violated several international agreements with these actions. Under the 1999 agreement governing presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which has had it’s base there since 1783, troop movements outside official base areas have to be agreed with Ukrainian authorities beforehand.
Russia, along with the UK and the US, is also a guarantor of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and current borders under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union in exchange for this guarantee.
Putin has explained the invasion in order to “save” Russian citizens and the Russian speaking communities in Ukraine, the majority actually holding Ukrainian citizenship.
No one except the puppet Crimean PM and an ex-president now in hiding in Russia have asked for Russia’s “assistance”.
Crimea was stable with no sign of threat or “ethnic cleansing” by nationalists before the Russian army came to town. Now of course the Tartars and Ukrainians living there are looking to flee.
Russian-speaking Ukrainians also played an important part in the revolution. Anyone who has been to Maydan would have seen a big banner with Kharkiv written in bold letters hanging near Kreshchatyk Street. Each region also has its own tent pegged in the square, including many from the East and South such as Donbass and Odessa. At rallies banners and placards from all over the country waved. The revolution was not solely a Kiev and Western Ukrainian movement but a national one.
Eastern regions had a lot to overcome in order to participate being more under Ynukovych’s control. Police and government hired thugs known as “Tetushkis” squashed protests in the East through beatings. People who did attend rallies risked loosing their jobs since many businesses there trade with Russia and students risked being kicked out of University. People were also forced to march in anti-Maydan demonstrations or loose their jobs. “They are not free,” a Maydan protester told me.
Some Ukrainians do not agree with new interim government and the revolution, especially since the abolition of the language law allowing Russian as second official language. Russian media has branded the opposition and Maydan supporters as neo-Nazis further raising alarm.
Extremist groups are a minority which has attracted the most attention. The far-right party Svaboda, which has neo-Nazi roots originally being the Social-Nationalist Party of Ukraine, is now considered a nationalist party focusing on anti-corruption. Toning down its extremist views is obviously a way to gain more support but it is still far from being the most popular among Ukrainians. Its politicians currently hold 5 government positions. Other positions such as the Prime Minister and President are held by the center-right Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party. There are also prominent activists included who suffered from kidnappings and assassination attempts under Yanukovych.
As for ethnic cleansing, there has been no such thing happening.
If anyone has suffered from ethnic cleansing in Ukraine it has been Ukrainians with 7-11million murdered under Stalin and the Crimean Tartars. The Jewish population was also nearly wiped out under the Nazis.
Russian and Ukrainian speakers are very much intertwined with family and friends on both sides. The so-called rift between the communities has been exaggerated by Putin to justify invasion. Ukraine is not black and white with bitter hatred between ethnic groups. Politics is what divides people. There are Russian speakers who are ardent revolutionaries and Ukrainian speakers who are against. Its not the language you speak, it’s the views you hold.
Yanukovych, who still claims to be the legitimate President, has utterly no support. His own party members voted for his impeachment and he is even despised in his stronghold regions such as Donnestk and Crimea. Border guards in Donnestk refused to let him board his private jet when he attempted to escape and Crimea didn’t welcome him either. Why else would he be hiding out in Russia?
After hearing that Yanukovych asked Russia to invade his own country, everyone is disgusted (I bet even his own mother). If he ever makes it back here, many will happily see him hang in The Hague.
How can you still be President when the entire country has booted you out?
Only Putin recognises him as such since Yanukovych is a useful pawn in the grand master plan of conquering Ukraine.
This operation is not about protecting the Russian speakers in Ukraine. The Russian government doesn’t even protect its own people back home who suffer major human right abuses – no freedom of speech, media censorship and propaganda, false imprisonment, assassinations, mass corruption and poverty.
Crimeans hoping for a better life under Putin are in for a rude awakening. Russia is not the Promised Land and Putin is certainly not Jesus Christ coming to save them from evil damnation.
The interim government in Kiev is a threat to the Russian state not the people. This is about keeping Europe and the US out and Russia in. There are currently 30,000 soldiers in Crimea and Russian military lined across the border to Northern and Eastern regions of Ukraine.
Fascism has risen – in the shape of Putin, or rather as the Ukrainians put it “Russism”.