Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ukraine – Crimea Again/Still

So Putin phoned Obama last Friday to begin negotiations over Ukraine.  I don’t know how the President reacted but if it had been me, I would have checked to see where my wife and kids were.  Kerry and Lavrov met on Sunday.  The Russian position seems to be if you just give us what we want then we won’t have to invade and we will have peace in our time.  It seems that Kerry agreed with him.  America is selling us down the drain according to this article

The good news is, and I am sure you have seen the headlines, Russia is beginning to pull troops back from the border with Ukraine.  The bad news is that it is only 500 men of 80,000 and no one has actually seen them move yet.

Putin’s hurried annexation of Crimea reminds me of the guy who was in a hurry to sell his horse.  He had a bill of sale for it and as long as the new buyer rode east, it was good but if he rode west, it was maybe not so good.  It seems the referendum numbers of 83% turn out and 97% in favour, reminiscent of post-war votes in the Baltics and elsewhere to join the USSR or elect a Communist government may have been just a tad exaggerated.  Just a tad.

The 123% turnout in Sevastopol is just the beginning.

This post appeared a week ago.  www.interpretermag.com/putin-falsified-crimean-referendum-results-illarionov-says .  It made the case that in recent opinion polls only about 40% of Crimeans favoured joining Russia.  Since there were no outside observers with credibility, the Crimean Tatars who certainly have a vested interest kept their own tally and came up with about 34% turnout.  Russian claims of outside observers were a joke as they were hand picked from extremist groups on the right and left that Putin is cultivating even while he is shocked, shocked I tell you, that there are extremists in Ukraine.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers were continually turned back at the Crimean border, the third time with automatic weapons fired in the air over their heads.

Andrei Illarionov, a former advisor to the President of Russia, is quoted quite often in a number of reports, especially by Paul Goble who writes the Window on Eurasia blog.  Gobel is blessed with a talent that many others don’t have; he is fluent in Russian and his posts are essentially a digest of material written by Russians. 

A couple days ago, McClatchy DC came out with an article citing any number of irregularities.  “Carousel voting” by busloads of imported Russians, some were Don Cossaks, observed at several locations in sequence. A reporter for the local Tatar ATR television station said he was able to register and vote in four separate polling stations.

A Russian biker gang, equivalent to Hell’s Angels and all good buddies of Putin, turned up in Crimea to help keep law and order according to their leader and were observed voting in Sevastopol, complete with automatic weapons.

The Crimean Ukrainians and the Tatars make up just under 30% of the 2.2 million residents of Crimea.  They organized a boycott and even though some did vote, the notion of 83% turnout is mathematically impossible without multiple voting by pro-Russian voters.

Putin “was using percentages out of North Korea,” said Vladimir Kazarin, a professor of journalism at Simferopol’s Russian language Vernadsky University and a former high official in the Crimean and Sevastopol government. “It’s not truthful.”

Video cameras were missing from polling places, control tabs from ballots were not collected. One polling station with about 2000 registered voters was almost empty just before closing time.  A long list of people had signed the register but one ballot box was empty and two others were1/3 full. Most of the voters observed were old people, looking to see their pensions doubled by joining Russia.

As Potapova surveyed the scene, a student walked in to register. “The entire referendum commission stood up and applauded,” she recounted. The student asked them: ‘What’s going on?’ She said members of the board responded that he was the first young person to appear the entire day.

There is even more in the article which is linked below.

Now we all KNOW that Crimea was gifted to Ukraine in 1954, on the 300th anniversary of the signing away of Ukrainian independence by Bohdan Khmelnitsky, by a drunken Khrushchev for whatever reasons.  Maybe not.  Reading comments is usually bad for my blood pressure but invariable if one checks enough comments in enough articles, someone has something useful to say and THIS article was no exception.

Commenter Gennady Shkliarevsky had this to say:
I would like to dispel several very common and very important misconceptions about Crimea:
1. Malenkov, not Khrushchev, transferred Crimea to Ukraine.
2. Voroshilov signed the decree on the transfer dated February 19, 1954.
3. Russia received in exchange Taganrog and some other fertile black soil areas that were equal to the territory of Crimea (Minutes of the meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU No. 49, January 25, 1954).
4. As a result of the transfer, Ukraine faced the following problems:
-- It had received dry salty steppe areas in Crimea
-- The territory had no agriculture or industry
-- There were no sources of energy or water
-- Vast unpopulated areas with no infrastructure
5. The Soviet government set the task for Ukraine to develop industry and agriculture in Crimea in a very short period of time, and to organize the area as a resort zone for the citizens of the USSR.
6. The funding for all this development was to come from the budget of Ukraine.

Another article HERE in Russian appears to confirm the above.

But, Tagenrog and surrounding area in Rostov Oblast had been under administration of Ukraine SSR from 1921 to 1924 according to Wikipedia and another commenter.  Also I found a site with the relevant minutes all in Russian and even translating them with Google didn’t clarify much.  http://sevkrimrus.narod.ru/texstes/vozvrat.htm#41 I am no historian as I prefer to read the research of others, I guess.

Even with out Tagenrog, the rest of the information makes sense.  The channel for irrigation water from the Dnipro River to Crimea was built after it became part of Ukraine.  As to the development of Crimea as a resort zone, it certainly had been for the Russian rich and famous but most of the infrastructure for the common masses is post 1954.

Regardless of the justice, legality or referendum, Crimea is gone, taken by force of arms while everyone watched.  America is treating it as a given that it now belongs to Russia and lets accept it, recognize it and get on with it.

I am glad my girls, at least, got to see it when it was still part of Ukraine.  Now you need a Russian visa to visit Livadia. 


  1. And not all that long ago we heard mostly about a litter of kittens at your house and now....

    1. This gives me an excuse to read everything on the net. It also saves answering individual requests to explain what is going on (which was why I started the blog in the first place). I hope someday to return to kittens and flowers and nonsense and places and... Right now it is hard not to think of anything but the danger we face from Russia

    2. From one of those would-have-been individuals who was concerned about you and yours, thank you for the posts.

    3. You are welcome, Lynn. Thanks for your concern.

  2. Am I the only one thinking, "Thin edge of the wedge"...?

  3. Response to false statements on Taganrog made by Ukrainian blogger Alexander Gorobets


    1. Many thanks. Waiting 30 years to "compensate" Ukraine for loss of Taganrog did not make any sense to me and I could find nothing in the documents referenced. The whole Kuban area had a great many Ukrainians (55%) in 1926, which may have been why it was initially part of Ukraine. These were also targets of Stalin's anti-Ukrainian-nationalism famine campaign and I expect of the great terror as well, to the point that they are less than 1% today.


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