Massive vote to separate
Kiev losing control in East
Meanwhile, the Western imperialists have tried to bury a Russian proposal to solve the crisis, which was presented to the U.S. and the EU before a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in London on March 14.
In addition, fascist forces are mobilizing to try to beef up the dwindling authority of the Kiev puppet government in major cities in Ukraine’s east and south.
The overwhelming majority of the electorate in Crimea has voted to separate from the reactionary, right-wing regime in Ukraine. By most accounts, 83 percent of those eligible turned out to vote, with well over 90 percent voting to separate and spurning the choice to remain in Ukraine with autonomy.
The expansionist aggressors in Washington and their European partners declared the popular referendum “illegal” and put sanctions on Russian, Crimean and Ukrainian officials. Washington’s hypocrisy is shown by its dismissal of the Crimean masses’ popular vote for separation while applauding the violent overthrow of the legally elected Ukrainian government of Victor Yanukovich by U.S.-backed fascist forces from the Right Sector and the Svoboda Party.
The big business media have depicted the referendum as Russians versus Ukrainians. But people of Russian ancestry are just 58 percent of the population of Crimea, which has 1.5 million eligible voters. If you do the math, somewhere around half a million Ukrainians in Crimea voted for separation.
It is important to note, when assessing the referendum, that Crimea has a long history of association with Russia. It was not politically part of Ukraine until it was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Its historical, economic and cultural development is different than the rest of Ukraine. It is also separated geographically as a peninsula and has been home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet for over two centuries.
Russian plan to end crisis buried by U.S./EU
Meanwhile, Washington and Brussels have completely ignored a Russian proposal for solving the crisis. Details of the proposal are coming out now only because they have been announced in the Russian press.
The major points covered in the English-language press so far (Financial Times, March 17) include the following:
• To recognize the referendum in Crimea as legal and legitimate and to allow the people of Crimea to determine their own destiny.
• To legalize Russian as an official second language.
• To call a national conference to redraw the Ukrainian constitution and create a federal structure that would give recognition to the needs of various regions and allow for autonomy in the social, economic and cultural spheres and in foreign trade.
• For the EU, U.S., Russia and the U.N. to guarantee the geopolitical and military neutrality of Ukraine.
• To confiscate all illegal arms and ban Nazi and other fascist propaganda.
The provisions of this proposal and the fact that it was quietly refused have been buried by the Western capitalist mass media. This indicates that the hawkish, confrontational policy of U.S. imperialism in the Ukraine crisis is dominant and growing stronger.
Kiev authority under attack in eastern Ukraine
Washington and its puppets are showing signs of desperation because Kiev, which staffed its government with fascists in key posts, is losing its authority over sections of the country in the east and the south.
Thousands of demonstrators in the eastern cities of Donetz, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa and Nikolaev have rebelled in the streets against the Kiev authorities. Demonstrators have stormed government buildings, evicted pro-Kiev officials, held popular referendums and passed out petitions that denounced the oligarchs appointed by Kiev. Some called for a federated Ukraine, some for separation and new elections. The resistance to the puppet regime is growing. (video and printed reports, rt.com, March 16)
The people of the eastern and southern regions are steeped in the struggle against fascism and the Nazis. There is a strong Soviet/Russian culture in the region. Red flags with hammers and sickles are sprinkled among Russian flags in the demonstrations. Monuments to the victory over Hitler in World War II abound. Monuments to war heroes and statues of Lenin are common. Defense guards have been posted to protect them from fascist forces organized by the regime.
The masses know that the new Kiev regime has appointed fascist elements to some of the most important state positions — those in charge of the various armed forces. Defense, Internal Affairs, National Security and the Defense Council are all now headed by members of the fascist-leaning Svoboda Party or the openly fascist Right Sector.
These forces are attacking communists, progressives and anti-fascists around the country. Two people were shot dead by Right Sector forces in Donetz and also in Kharkiv. (Read WW article at tinyurl.com/o4mcym7)
The Kiev regime has called up 20,000 soldiers from the regular military and, more ominously, 20,000 national guards. Given the fascist leaders in the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of National Security, this call-up is meant to deputize the right-wing and fascist forces for combat.
There is fear in Kiev and in Washington that, having lost Crimea, they are losing control over much of the population in Ukraine and the resistance is spreading. This worry is reflected in a sudden pronouncement by the virulently anti-Russian, pro-NATO, pro-EU Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on the morning after the referendum and Crimea’s decision to affiliate with Russia.
Yatsenyuk, who generally speaks in Ukrainian, gave a 10-minute televised address to the country in Russian. He declared that a new constitution should move toward “decentralization,” that joining NATO was “not on the agenda,” that the Russian language was fully legal, that the economic part of an Association Agreement with the EU had been “put on hold,” that he wanted good relations with Russia and that relations with the EU and Russia were not an “either or” proposition. [Reuters, March 18]
In other words, Yatsenyuk had to speak to the entire Russian proposal to end the crisis, which is gaining ground in the country. Of course, every word that fell from his lips is a complete lie, spoken out of political weakness and fear. His speech was undoubtedly approved by, if not written by, his masters in Washington.
But it shows that the imperialists, having tried to seize Ukraine by subversion and force, may have bitten off more than they can chew in the long run. The Ukrainian masses and the Russians may give them a rebuff they had not bargained for.
Fred Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.”