Following the massive popular votes calling for independence in Eastern Ukraine, Western political leaders engaged in a predictable contest of who could throw the biggest stones in a glass house.
The referenda held in the Donetsk and Lugansk constituencies recorded over 90 per cent popular support for the respective self-declared People’s Republics, with voter turnout over 75 per cent. The referenda pave the way for secession from Ukraine and for the application to join the Russian Federation.
Nonetheless, Western political figures and media continued in their threadbare accusations that Russia was destabilizing Ukraine. The day after the independence ballots, European Union foreign ministers enacted further sanctions against Russian individuals and commercial companies.
The London-based Economist accuses Moscow of waging an «apparent proxy war against Ukraine». While the Financial Times reported: «The US and its leading European allies are preparing wider sanctions on Russia’s economy… if Moscow is seen to disrupt Ukrainian presidential elections on May 25».
The contradiction to that particular Western lie is that Russian leader Vladimir Putin last week urged the Eastern Ukrainian populations to delay their referenda until after the country’s presidential poll later this month.
As it turned out the Eastern Ukrainians went ahead with their ballots on independence as planned. Yet Western leaders and media persist in their claims that Moscow is instigating the anti-Kiev protests and fomenting «pro-Russian separatists» even though it is clear that the referenda were organized independently from Moscow.
«Congratulations on the birth of the Lugansk Republic,” said Vasily Nikitin, deputy head of the region’s separatist movement. “We are now preparing an appeal to the UN and international community asking them to recognise us.”
Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetz People’s Republic, said his country now wants to join Russia.
The Governor of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Valery Bolotov, spoke with clarity about the significance of the vote. «We have chosen our path of independence from arbitrariness and bloody dictate of the Kiev clique, fascism and nationalism».
No wonder the Western governments and media do not want to treat the referenda with respect or give the people their right to speak out. What the people of Eastern Ukraine are saying – like in Crimea earlier in March – is an excruciating blow to the Western propaganda myths being pumped out on a daily basis in the West.
For its part Moscow said it respected the «voice of the people» and urged the Western-backed regime in Kiev to enter into dialogue with the newly ascendant popular assemblies in the East of the country.
But the unelected junta in Kiev immediately pilloried the plebiscites as «a farce» conducted «by terrorists». Seriously, how is one supposed to dialogue with such depraved mentality?
The Russian foreign ministry decried the intransigence expressed by Kiev as «a criminal refusal to dialogue».
Of course, where the self—styled government in Kiev gets this belligerent and irrational attitude from is precisely the fawning indulgence bestowed on it by Washington and its European allies.
Admittedly, the referenda in Donetz and Lugansk may not have conformed to normal international standards. True, there were no official international observers present and there are questions over the validity of electoral registers. But nevertheless, the votes are significant expressions of popular opinion. Such expressions should be respected.
As well as voicing a desire for political independence from the Western-backed regime in Kiev, the massive electoral turnout also reveals the lack of legitimacy of the Western-backed junta.
Perversely, the most egregious violation of electoral conduct in Donetz and Lugansk last weekend was the systematic deadly violence against civilians – including serious allegations of shoot-to-kill orders – violence that is condoned and supported by the Western governments.
Yet, laughably, all that the West seems to find fault with in the electoral conduct is negligible by comparison to a reign of terror that citizens are being subjected to directed by the junta in Kiev.
The Kiev regime’s obscurantist doublethink and hypocrisy merely reflects that of its political patrons in the West.
Within 24 hours of the largely ethnic Russian people of Donetz and Lugansk heaping electoral scorn on the coup plotters in Kiev – who seized power in a violent putsch against the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovcyh on February 22 – the regime was afforded the highest accolades of European Union support.
Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, flew to Kiev and held a joint press conference with the junta’s acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Van Rompuy echoed the deprecatory words of Yatsenyuk, describing the referenda as «illegal and illegitimate». The set piece had the unmistakable air of being contrived at the highest EU levels as a spoiler to what was a salutary East Ukraine snub to the Western-backed coup in Kiev.
The irony of Van Rompuy lecturing about democracy is too cringing for comfort. The former Belgian premier was selected, not elected, for the top EU post back in 2009. The 67-year-old, described by Brussels insiders as the «Belgian waffler» because of his boring personal style, is thus a grey bureaucrat with no popular mandate.
And yet he commands a salary equivalent to more than $500,000 – paid for by European taxpayers. That makes him the most highly paid political figure in the world, with his remuneration package even exceeding that of US President Barack Obama.
Then on next day, Tuesday, Yatsenyuk was hosted in Brussels by the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso. Barroso is another arch bureaucrat with no popular legitimacy, who has overseen draconian economic austerity cuts imposed on the European public ever since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, but somehow he could allocate €1 billion to Yatsenyuk’s regime, as an initial installment of an overall EU «aid package» worth €11 billion.
This all constitutes illegal infringement of Ukrainian sovereignty conducted by EU bureaucrats in cahoots with unelected demagogues in Kiev.
Again, like Van Rompuy, Barroso lambasted the referenda held in Donetz and Lugansk as «illegal» and all the while referred to Yatsenyuk as the «prime minister» and to the «government of Ukraine» even though this cabal and its neo-Nazi shock troops occupy government buildings owing to a violent Western-backed regime change operation, involving covert mass murder of some 100 protesters and police in Kiev’s Maidan Square on February 20.
European governments also denounced the votes for independence. Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande hurled brickbats with reckless abandon, excoriating the polls as illegal and asserting that the only valid election is the forthcoming Ukrainian presidential vote on May 25. How these European leaders can ascribe an election carried out amid widespread lethal violence against civilians by the Kiev junta as «valid» defies credibility.
The White House and US State Department issued statements condemning the East Ukraine referenda, but somewhat surprisingly President Obama and his foreign minister, John Kerry, remained low-key on the matter. Maybe they were trying to not confer any recognition of the votes by letting their underlings perform the rhetorical hatchet jobs.
The Western indulgence of the coup in Kiev – which has deployed state forces and neo-Nazi paramilitary death squads against civilian populations in the East and South of Ukraine since it launched its «anti-terror» campaign last month – will ensure that violence will continue to escalate. This is in spite of the so-called Geneva agreement signed on April 17 between the US, EU, Russia and the Kiev junta, which explicitly calls on all sides to de-escalate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s peace proposal worked out last week with Swiss President Didier Burklater as chairman of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe also emphasizes dialogue between the Ukraine factions.
Following the referenda, the Eastern region has even more democratic mandate and should be afforded autonomy, or at the very least the respect of recognition as political representatives. What mandate does the coup in Kiev have? On what authority – apart from the barrel of a gun – does the junta act to suppress people who simply oppose its reactionary self-imposed rule?
Western governments and their media cannot accept the results of the latest referenda or engage in a rational assessment. Not because the referenda lack legitimacy. But rather because recognizing the reality of widespread dissent within Ukrainian society against the Kiev cabal, which the referenda demonstrably show – that exposes the reality of criminal Western regime change in Ukraine.
Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation