It is difficult to write a headline for an article that has so many falsehoods that are peddled as truth. It might be best to explain all of that as I write about this extraordinary bending of anything resembling normality. Thus I will break the matter down into three separate areas.
The fact that the pro-Russian rebels held a ‘referendum’ in the first place is fatally flawed as they were arguing in March – along with ex-president Viktor Yanukovych – that the Ukrainian presidential election could not be held in a free and fair manner in such turmoil. Despite that it seems that the pro-Russian elements in eastern Ukraine feel that it is perfectly ‘free and fair’ to hold a state-splitting referendum whilst the region is ruled by gun-toting rebels.
Russian president, Vladimir Putin, urged the rebels not to hold the referendum. According to The Guardian newspaper, Russia‘s president, Vladimir Putin, said the referendum being staged by pro-Russia separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine on Sunday should be postponed. As usual though, his words did not match his deeds as a polling station was set up near the Kievsky railway station, in Moscow, where trains and buses leave for Ukraine. According to Reuters, “several thousand Ukrainians voted on Sunday at a makeshift Moscow polling station, joining a self-rule referendum by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who want the region to break away from Kiev“. How is it possible for the Russians to claim that they believe the referendum should be delayed whilst allowing polling facilities to be set up in Moscow?
The FT reported that the Ukrainian government called on its people to ignore the “illegal referendum”.
This plebiscite is intended to determine whether those participating feel that ‘The Republic of Donetsk’ – including Lugansk – should become a state independent of Kyev. This is another false premise as the first thing the rebels would do is to hold a second-round ballot to determine the wish of the people in the newly created republic to join Russia. So the matter is not about self-rule at all, but is being used as a tactic to deflect claims that Russia is annexing the territory. In the knowledge of the polling facility for the referendum in Moscow, it is quite clear what Putin’s position is regarding Donetsk seceding from Ukraine with the intention of joining Russia.
Pro-Russian ‘victory’ in the referendum
The fact that the poll was illegal – held in a state of armed conflict, with the rebels themselves arranging the plebiscite without any international observers, with death threats locally reported for those who stood in the way of the poll – it is difficult to see how the rebels can claim any victory at all. This was not a free and fair vote, it was held under extreme duress, and Russia’s complicity in allowing the rebels to set up a ‘polling station’ in Moscow for Ukrainian nationals makes it a complete farce.
Anecdotal evidence of possible election fraud
At the Primorsky polling station in Mariupol, a large crowd is gathered outside, waiting to vote. There is a crush of people inside.
Organisation is chaotic at best. There are no polling booths: people vote at the registration desks. People’s details are hastily scribbled on generic forms. There is also a collection for money towards funding the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The chairman of this polling station, Sergei Babin, said that people from other regions are permitted to vote here. He said their details would be taken down, and then, to ensure they haven’t voted elsewhere, “the lists from different polling stations would be checked against each other”.
Asked how long such a mammoth task would take, he replied “one day.”
Despite the claims by Putin and his spokesmen, that the Kyev government is a fascist cabal, quite to the contrary Russia itself seems to be the one destabilising the Ukrainian state, inciting considerable unrest and exploiting it viciously with the use of covert military forces because it feels, as Hitler did in the pre-war years, that it will get away with it.
In the run up to the Crimean referendum, Putin claimed that no Russian military were involved in the uprising. After the event he admitted that troops were indeed active during that time, meaning that he seemingly lied in the first instance.
If stronger action is not taken against Russsia we will see more than part of Ukraine being repossessed by the ‘New Russia’.