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Crimea

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We all know what the US State Department and its PR lackeys (the Western media) thought about it.

How about everyone else?

What Crimeans thought about it:

crimea-polls

What the Crimean Tatars thought about it:

vciom-poll-crimean-tatars-referendum-2014

poll-crimean-tatars-support-joining-russia

What the Euromaidanists thought about it:

crimea-recognition-ternopil-prosecutor

What normal people thought about it:

crimea-poll-poklonskaya-tsundere

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Crimea, Ukrainian Crisis 
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In a recent interview with ABC for which he is now taking flak, Trump said:

I’m gonna take a look at it. But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also.

As usual, Trump is right and cannot be stumped.

crimea-polls

Above is a list I compiled half a year ago with all the most prominent polls and referendums ever held that directly or indirectly queried Crimeans on their attitudes towards Russia and Ukraine, along with the performance of the single most “Russophile” option in each case*.

  • In 1992, the Republic of Crimea proclaimed self-government as part of Ukraine with its own Constitution. The pro-independence candidate Yury Meshkov was elected President in January 1994 with 73% of the vote. 79% of Crimeans voted for greater autonomy two months later.
  • In 1995, the Ukrainian parliament annuled the Crimean Constitution and removed Meshkov from office.
  • Consistently ~80% of Crimeans voted for “Blue” parties and Presidential candidates who promised closer relations with Russia during their stint as Ukrainian citizens.
  • 73% supported seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia in 2008 in a Razumkov Center poll (a Ukrainian pollster).
  • Consistently 80% of Crimeans said they’d vote “Yes” in a referendum on joining Russia in a series of polls from 2009 to 2011 carried out by the UN Development Program.
  • The one major exception to this pattern was in the two polls by IRI, a Ukrainian polling organization. There, a majority opted for autonomy in Ukraine, versus 26% who opted to be “separated and given to Russia.” Even so, far more Crimeans said they’d favor trade integration with Russia over the EU if they were forced to choose between the two.
  • No majority support for independence in the two KIIS polls, but there the question referred to whether they’d like “all of Ukraine” to join Russia.
  • Also, as with the IRI polls, at the time Crimeans likely regarded getting incorporated into Russia as unrealistic anyway, and thus might have decided to opt for the safe option of autonomy.
  • After the Euromaidan coup, the beatings of Crimean counter-protesters at Korsun by Right Sector, and the Orwellian-named “friendship trains” that started spreading out from Lvov and Kiev to put down the less Maidan-enthused regions, support in Crimea for joining Russia became near universal.
  • Even on the streets, the pro-Russian crowds were much bigger than the pro-Ukraine ones – that’s according to to a journalist then working at The Economist, that well known Kremlin propaganda organ. /s
  • Both Russian (FOM, VCIOM) and Western/Ukrainian (GfK Ukraine, Gallup) pollsters consistently showed overwhelming, usually 90%+, support for joining Russia ever since the Crimean referendum – well in line with the official results that were supposedly obtained by Crimeans being “held at gunpoint.”
  • The one exception to this pattern, an estimate of 50%-60%, was produced by the Russian President’s Human Rights Council. However, on closer examination, it was not any sort of official figure, as presented by Forbes blogger Paul Roderick Gregory – a professional anti-Russian hack who later claimed 2,000 Russian soldiers died in Donbass on the basis of some lurid claims from a completely unknown Russian “business news” website – but the mere personal opinion of a single member of the Council, Yevgeny Bobrov, who based his assessment on conversations with a couple dozen unnamed “activists.”

Note that this version of events is supported by records of discussions held amongst the leaders of the Maidan themselves. Debating on whether or not to use military force to keep Crimea within Ukraine at the height of the crisis, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and former SBU head Valentin Nalivaychenko both admitted that Russia’s actions enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Crimeans.

So if you disagree Trump for observing that Crimeans “would rather be with Russia than where they were,” you are also disagreeing with not just Western polling agencies but the main organizers of Euromaidan and current leaders of Ukraine, and guess what – that makes you a Putin stooge, or so I’ve been told!

* “Don’t Know” and N/A responses are discounted. The “Adjusted” version of the referendum results consider those who abstained from voting as having voted Against.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Crimea, Trump Derangement Syndrome 
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According to a fable often told by Russians themselves, there once lived two peasants. One of them had one cow, the other had two cows. The poorer peasant found a lamp, rubbed it, and out popped a genie, who proceeded to ask him if he wanted 5 cows. He refused and instead wished for one of his neighbor’s cows to drop dead.

This story is what comes to mind on the news that various Crimean Tatar and far right batallion “activists” blew up the transmission towers carrying electricity to Crimea, plunging the peninsula into a blackout that looks set to last weeks.

In fact, it’s something of a metaphor for today’s Ukraine in general.

(1) “Activists” blockade Crimea, putting an embargo on food products. Belatedly realizing that the whole affair will lose whatever minimal sense it might have possessed in the first place when Russia bans all Ukrainian food imports on January 1, 2016, on Ukraine’s accession to the EU Free Trade Agreement, they decide to up their game, presumably on the belief that if their water blockade failed to win Crimean hearts and minds in favor of Ukraine last summer, then deprivation of electricity as winter approaches surely will. No matter that said electricity blockade will affect not just those evil moskali and Ukrainian zradniki (traitors) who overwhelmingly voted to leave Country 404, but also 90% of the world’s Crimean Tatars whom they are ostensibly fighting for.

heroic-poses(2) Fifty armed National Guardsmen are sent to restore order. The “activists” naturally start to fight them and the efforts of the totalitarian Poroshenko regime to take away their Constitutional rights to blow up infrastructure on Ukrainian soil. In the video above, one of the masked activists, clearly suffering from a terminal case of Maidanism, says the Guardsmen are akin to separatists. Two of the Guardsmen are seriously injured: One gets a brain concussion after getting hit by a stick, while another gets a knife in his stomach.

In any normal functional country, including in any European nation that the Maidanists vaunt so much, they would at this point be getting mowed down by special forces as the terrorists they are. However, in Ukraine, they are “civic activists,” so they are left unharmed to continue to strike heroic Diogenes-in-a-pylon poses. And after a crowd of sympathizing “activists” gathers at the Presidential palace, Poroshenko quickly flip flops and promises that there would be no more attempts to storm them in a hastily arranged meeting with the (self-proclaimed) “Mejlis” leaders of the Crimean Tatars.

You must construct additional pylons!? Not so fast…

(3) Ilya Kiva, the commander of those National Guards supposedly tasked with restoring order so that repairs could be done, immediately afterwards posted the following message on Facebook (the favored communications medium of Maidanist politicians): “The troops are now at their place of permanent dislocation, and the blockade continues! No electricity to Crimea! Slava Ukraine! And now I go to bed…”

slava-ukraine-no-electricity-to-crimea(4) In the meantime, while svidomy Ukrainians digest their great peremoga (victory), the sabotage has forced two nuclear power plants in neighboring Kherson oblast to effect a dangerous emergency shutdown. There is a chance that the blackouts could spread to the neighboring Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Nikolaev according to the head of the Ukraine’s energy company Yury Katich.

Russia has ceased supplying coal to Ukraine in retaliation. Considering that Ukraine’s electricity network runs in significant part thanks to Russian and LDNR coal, this is not an unreasonable retaliation for the blockade of Crimea.

At this point, there can only be two explanations for this turn of events, on which in turn will depend any further developments.

a) The first variant is that Ukraine is a Country 404, a failed state powerless to prevent its “activists” from sauntering about and blowing up infrastructure at will in the hope that it kills more Russian cows even if some Ukrainian cows also get caught in the backblast.

b) The more cynical and darker possibility is that this was all planned. As Egor Kholmogorov points out in an article for Izvestia, now is a perfect window for this kind of sabotage, because the center and east of the territories controlled by Kiev have recently been connected to new power lines from the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant to the west, allowing it to minimize any fallout on Ukraine itself, while Russia is less than two months away from launching its energy bridge to Crimea. This implies that the timing of this operation was chosen by people a “great deal more informed than those of the Right Sector and the supporters of the Mejlis.”

If the latter explanation is in fact the correct one – and considering the possible casualties stemming from a sudden and prolonged loss of power, especially now that winter is coming – then this would make this sabotage something more than a tragicomic skit. As Kholmogorov argued, it would make it an an outright act of state terrorism – and if Russia has any sense of honor and consistency left, it would reply with the usual punishment meted out to sponsors of terror, including wide-ranging economic sanctions at the very least.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Crimea, Crimean Tatars, Svidomy, Terrorism, Ukraine 
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As voting gets underway – and by all accounts, it seems to be overwhelmingly heading for the pro-secession choice – it’s worthwhile to dispel four common but erroneous beliefs about it.

(1) The referendum is unconstitutional.

Where political power in Ukraine rests today.

Where political power in Ukraine rests today.

This is true enough, as all of Ukraine would have to vote on it. But there is one big catch: The Ukrainian Constitution has been null and void since around February 22, 2014, when the Kiev mob overthrew a democratically elected President and the opposition seized power. If the new regime absolutely insists on constitutional niceties, then it should dissolve itself and bring back Yanukovych from Rostov. This is hardly going to be happening anytime soon, so the only conclusion to be drawn is that, as in much else, the new regime and its Western backers only discover legality when it suits them. And that’s just fine, it’s “people power” and that’s supposed to be great and all, especially when it’s happening outside the West… but unless one wants to proudly and openly embrace double standards, then the mobs in Crimea have just as much of a right to decide their own destiny as do the mobs in Kiev.

(2) The referendum can’t be fair because of the presence of armed Russian troops.

Of course, nobody is buying the official Kremlin line that there are no Russian troops – or at least mercenaries – operating in Crimea. That said, if we insist on going by this standard, then we’ll have to concede that all Afghan elections since 2001 and all Iraqi elections since 2003 will have to be likewise invalidated. For some reason, I don’t see Washington conceding this anytime soon.

(3) There is no choice – both options are, in effect, a “yes.”

cimea Here is the form, which is printed in the Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar languages. The two options are:

  1. Do you support joining Crimea with the Russian Federation as a subject of Russian Federation?
  2. Do you support restoration of 1992 Crimean Constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine?

It is also clearly stated that marking both answers will count as a spoiled ballot.

So the option isn’t between joining Russia or joining Russia, but between joining Russia and getting more autonomy. Furthermore, there is a clear and democratic way to vote AGAINST any changes – boycott the referendum (as official Kiev and the Mejlis have been urging Crimeans to do). If turnout is below 50%, the referendum is automatically invalidated.

(4) Most Crimeans do not support independence.

Two pieces of evidence are typically wheeled out in support for this: The fact that the Crimean PM Aksynov’s Russian Unity Party only achieved 4% in the 2010 elections in Crimea, and a February 8-18 poll showing that only 41% of Crimeans supported union with Russia.

The rejoinder to the former is easy – tactical voting. An outfit such as the Russian Unity Party would have no chance at the all-Ukraine level, so pro-Russian Crimeans understandable voted for the Party of Regions. And overwhelmingly so.

The poll is harder to argue with, but far from impossible.

Bisn5MTCMAET6yX First, 41% is a very substantial share of the population, and clearly enough to justify a referendum. Most polls show lower support for Scottish independence, and yet they are going through with it. The referendum that split Montenegro from Serbia succeeded by the lowest of margins.

Second, the political situation has changed cardinally since mid-February. The President that Crimeans overwhelmingly voted for has since been overthrown in an unconstitutional coup, and power has been parceled out between Batkivschina and the fascist Svoboda party. Instead of maintaining the status quo until the elections – a not unreasonable expectation of an unelected transition government – they have instead pushed to roll back the Russian language, “lustrate” Party of Regions officials, appoint oligarchs to rule the restive eastern provinces, and formalize the status of Right Sector – the armed wing of Svoboda – as a paramilitary force. At the same time, Russian intervention has transformed the prospect of joining Russia from a pipedream held by Soviet nostalgics to a real choice on a paper ballot. In these circumstances, it is almost certain that support for Crimean secession has gone up.

Up, and radically so. Since then, two more recent polls have shown support for joining Russia at 77% and more than 80%. This is largely confirmed by anecdotal evidence (with all the necessary caveats about it being a lower standard of evidence than polls). Residential buildings and cars are festooned with Russian flags. There is nary a voice of objection to be heard at the (politically neutral) Sevastopol city forum. Turnout at the pro-Russian rallies in Crimea was several times higher than at the pro-Ukrainian one. Source? That infamous Kremlin stooge, The Economist’s Russia correspondant:

New update 3/16 – futhermore, as several commentators have pointed out, the precise wording of the poll that showed 41% support for union with Russia asked the question for Ukraine as a whole, as opposed to just the respondents’ region. In which case the cause of the discrepancy between it and the two recent polls becomes eminently clear: While Crimeans would very much like to join Russia themselves, they also realize that Lviv, say, wouldn’t be too happy or productive with such an the arrangement.

Crimea is the only region of Ukraine where ethnic Russians, at 58% according to the last Census in 2001, constitute an absolute majority. Conquered by Russian arms, it was handed over to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954, at a time when inter-Soviet borders were little more than a formality, to mark the 300-year anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav that bound Ukraine’s destiny with Russia’s. Now that Kiev has been taken over by a clique who utterly and entirely reject this shared legacy, and see their future as an outpost of the Euro-Atlantic Empire, it is hardly fair to expect Crimeans to suppress their own cultural and political traditions in pursuit of a revolutionary project spearheaded by Kiev and Lviv that they themselves have no interest in and no attachment to.

(5) The Crimean Tatars will be persecuted or marginalized.

The problem with the above argument, a Euromaidanite might rejoinder, is that Crimea really belongs to the Tatars.

With Sochi over and the Circassians once again relegated to the margins now that they are no longer useful for kicking Russia, many crocodile tears are now being shed in editorials and blog comments about the Tsarist persecution and Stalinist deportations of the Crimean Tatars. Their blood, their land, so to speak. But then, why not the Scythians? Or the Greeks? Or for that matter, why no consideration for the three million Slavs – Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles – that were sold into slavery by the Crimean Khanate during its three centuries of existence? Funnily enough, the people who are concern trolling all the way back into 18th century history conveniently stop at that precise point when Catherine the Great conquers the Crimean Khanate.

Short of Turkey invading and ethnically cleansing the Slavs, or making the Tatars into a ruling caste, Crimea will never “belong” to the Tatars under any vaguely liberal and democratic political order.

Back in the real world of 2014, the Crimean Tatars are going to guarantees of proportional representation in the legislative and executive bodies, and official status for the Tatar language (this is more, incidentally, than they could bargain on in a Ukraine co-run by Svoboda and Right Sector). Bearing in mind all this, it should come as no surprise that Crimean Tatars are nowhere near as monolithic on the secession question as the Western media has made them out to be. For a start, Crimea’s Deputy PM, Rustam Temirgaliev, is an ethnic Tatar. Many ethnic Tatars can be found – including by the none too Russophilic Guardian – who do not subscribe to the Mejlis’ party line.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.