Sunday’s “referendum” about the fate of eastern Ukraine was, as many predicted, a complete sham. That, of course, was the plan of the thug Putin, who intends to bring that part of the country under Russian control, if not a part of Russia itself. The vote for “sov ereignty” was 90% in favor, not quite as indicative of thuggery as, say, an election in China or North Korea, but pretty close.
As the New York Times reports (and let’s not have rants about how the paper is a propaganda organ of the U.S. government), this is what a “fair” referendum looks like:
Nearly everyone who cast a ballot appeared to be voting in favor of greater autonomy from the Ukrainian central government in Kiev. Opponents appeared to be staying away from the polls, as many had said they would. The ballot papers that could be seen in transparent ballot boxes in two cities, Donetsk and Slovyansk, were almost all marked yes.
Transparent ballot boxes. Great!
In one town, Ukrainian security forces shot a man to death outside a polling station as an angry crowd, ignoring warning shots, rushed toward a building that the soldiers controlled. In some other cities, voters took ballots that were run off on photocopiers and stuffed them into cardboard boxes that the organizers spirited off quickly, lest they be seized by pro-government forces.
. . . At a half-dozen polling places visited by reporters, except for those in Slovyansk, there were no voting rolls to consult; anyone who could show a local address in official identity papers was allowed to cast a ballot. Tatyana Us, a volunteer election official, referred to the practice as “open list” voting.
. . . In the town of Krasnoarmiysk, voters filed past a table on Sunday to pick up a ballot and a sausage sandwich. Crude secessionist propaganda posters hung near the polling station, touching dark themes of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. One depicted the current president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, as a goat-like figure and asked, “Do you want Satan as your president?” Another said Ukrainians should reject the “European Jewish choice.”
And the sign of inequity:
Late Sunday, separatist leaders in Donetsk reported that the ballot on “self-rule” had gone in their favor, with almost 90 percent of the vote, and that 75 percent of the region’s eligible voters had gone to the polls. For the province as a whole, another organizer was quoted as saying, “on average, from every 1,000 ballots, only one is against.”
Another sign that this kind of drummed-up vote doesn’t reflect the will of the people comes from a Pew Poll published on May 8, indicating that while both east and west Ukraine lack confidence in the central government, big majorities in both regions want the country to remain unified—and that goes for Russian speakers. (Easterners, however, want both Ukrainian and Russian to be the country’s official languages:
A clear majority of Ukrainians agree that their country should remain a single, unified state, according to a pair of new surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in Ukraine and Russia – after Crimea’s annexation by Russia, but prior to recent violence in Odessa and other cities. The survey in Ukraine also finds a clearly negative reaction to the role Russia is playing in the country. By contrast, the poll in Russia reveals a public that firmly backs Vladimir Putin and Crimea’s secession from Ukraine.
Here are the data:
And this is what is giving Putin confidence:
In Russia proper, the public also sees the matter as closed. More than eight-in-ten Russians (84%) think the March 16threferendum was fair and even more (89%) say Kyiv ought to validate the results, according to a new Pew Research survey in Russia, conducted among 1,000 randomly selected adults between April 4-20. The same survey finds that majorities of Russians (61%) agree that there are parts of neighboring countries that belong to Russia, and that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a great tragedy (55%). While the poll did not explicitly ask Russians whether they supported the Kremlin taking military action to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, nearly two-thirds (65%) agree that military action is sometimes necessary to maintain order in the world.
61% of Russians think that nearby countries should be part of their own, while only 28% disagree.
It is a curiosity of our time that we see Putin and his thugs repeating the kind of land grab—and the kind of call for annexation of “historically Russian” land—that resembles the actions of Hitler before WWII. If any Western country tried this kind of shenanigans, they’d be roundly excoriated for imperialism.
Some day we’ll find out that Putin is an oligarch in every sense: not just a monomaniacal tyrant who wrestles bears, but one who has enriched himself at the expense of his people.
I have no doubt that some readers will defend this phony referendum—and Putin himself—and I’ll continue to receive the kind of obscene and harassing phone calls that always follow my posts on this issue. I’m truly puzzled why so many people want to defend this expansionism and Russian-sponsored violence.