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Foreign analysts convinced that Crimea is to become part of Russia after referendum

16:07 | 14.03.2014 | Analytic

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14 March 2014. PenzaNews. The atmosphere involving the referendum on the status of Crimea, which is expected to be held in the republic’s territory and in the city of Sevastopol this Sunday, 16 March 2014, remains tense due to the current political situation in Ukraine and close attention from the whole international community.

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Only two questions will be brought up at the referendum: “Do you support Crimea joining the Russian Federation as a federal subject?”, and “Do you support restoration of 1992 Crimea Constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine?”

It is planned that the ballots will have/contain the options in three languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, and the ballots cast for both or no options will be declared invalid.

Earlier, The Supreme Council of Crimea has adopted a decision to join Russia as a federal subject.

However, the new Ukrainian authorities who came to power as a result of the bloody events in Kiev consider the Crimean referendum illegitimate. In their opinion, according to Article 73 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the questions concerned with changes to the state territory must be resolved by the all-Ukrainian referendum exclusively.

In her turn, Valentina Matvienko, the Chairman of the Council of Federation, expressed her confidence that actions of Crimean government are legitimate under the United Nations Charter, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international documents that confirm the right to self-determination of state people.

“Moreover, there already is an established international case law. Specifically, I would like to recall the decision of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo, dated 22 July 2010, which, according to Article I point 2 of the UN Chapter, set a precedent, according to which an official government mandate is not required to hold a referendum on self-determination of a part of a country. International precedent is law. Therefore, Crimean authorities act under international law and the decisions of the International Court of Justice,” she said.

The current situation is also intensified by the massive information propaganda and censorship imposed on Ukraine. For example, on 11 March 2014, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine demanded that all cable operators stop broadcasts of five Russian television channels. This decision was criticized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) despite the fact that the Western countries defend the actions of new Ukrainian authorities.

“Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom. Everyone has the right to receive information from as many sources as he or she wishes,” said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović in her statement published on the organisation’s official website.

Meanwhile, the response of politicians and public figures to the events on Ukraine remains ambivalent. For example, Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, has criticized both the actions of Moscow and the steps undertaken by the West in regards to the situation in Ukraine and has called the concerned parties to come to a peaceful solution. According to him, if Ukraine is to survive and prosper, it must not be an outpost for one side against the other, but a bridge between them.

In his turn, Gerhard Schröder, the former Chancellor of Germany, has voiced criticism against Ukraine and the European Union (EU), stressing the fact that the EU politicians has made a big mistake by forcing Kiev to choose between Russia and Europe.

Marine Le Pen, French National Front leader, maintains a similar position. As early as in the December 2013 she expressed surprise at the fact that the EU has declared the Ukrainian president illegitimate based on the opinion of only several thousand demonstrators. In addition to that, according to her, the decision for Ukraine to join the European Union which is currently being on the brink of ruin and collapse would hardly be the best solution to the problems for both sides.

Commenting the situation in Crimea, Marek Halter, French writer, reminded that this is not the first case for Europe when a territory was transferred from one country to another by the decision of a local referendum. As an example, he mentioned the state of Saarland, Germany, which was a part of France after WWII until the majority of its inhabitants voiced their decision to become a part of Germany once again.

Meanwhile, the authorities and the majority of inhabitants of Crimea consider their efforts to join Russia completely legitimate. On 11 March 2014, Crimea has adopted a declaration of independence that transforms Crimean Autonomy into the Republic of Crimea. Vladimir Konstantinov, the Chariman of the Supreme Council of Crimea, said that his document is required to legitimize the decision to join Russia, and that Crimea’s return to Ukraine is out of the question.

According to the poll conducted by Crimea Institute of Political and Sociological Research, 99% of Crimea region residents are informed about the referendum, more than 90% are going to vote, 77% are going to support joining Russia, and 97% negatively view the current situation in Ukraine.

In a comment on the situation, well-known Russian researcher of history of the Baltic States, author of numerous scientific publications and several books Dr. Mikhail Krysin expressed his belief that the recent revolution in Ukraine is a result of lopsided approach to history supported and sponsored by the West.

“History shapes the conscience of people only as far as they remember it, and some people in Ukraine remember it in a very lopsided way and dream of wiping whole centuries of Ukrainian history from everybody’s memory. The ongoing campaign of demolishing the monuments which remind people of centuries-long ties between Ukraine and Russia supports this claim,” the expert said.

According to him, Crimea has always been a bridge between Ukraine and Russia.

“It was given to Ukrainian SSR relatively recently, during Khruschev’s times, when nobody even thought of the possibility that the Soviet Union may collapse. Until that time, it has always been a part of Russia. Of course, the people of Autonomous Republic of Crimea, currently part of Ukraine, have a right to self-determination,” Mikhail Krysin pointed out.

In his opinion, joining Russia is the only alternative Crimea has to the forthcoming changes in Ukraine.

“At its best, the rest of Ukraine will now have gas and oil not at the discount prices specified by Russian-Ukrainian agreements, but at the EU prices, and all the utility bills and other costs will increase manifold – that’s what awaits Ukraine because of ‘euromandanists’ Crimea still has a chance to escape this trap,” Mikhail Krysin said.

The expert also expressed his belief that the main destabilizing factors in Ukraine are the threat of civil war, and “Turkish propaganda of pan-Turkism ideas which are actively disseminated by Ankara secret services on the post-Soviet space.” However, in his opinion, the Crimean Tatar public organizations are currently supporting the referendum and the possibility of joining Russia.

At the same time, Stefan Meister, Senior Policy Fellow of European Council on Foreign Relations, in his interview to PenzaNews agency called the decision to hold a referendum in Crimea illegitimate, and pointed out that the Parliament in ARC does not represent all the population of the region, which undermines its credibility.

At the same time, the expert suggested that Crimea will in any way get under the control of Russia and develop as its protectorate.

“In my opinion, Crimea is lost: Russia will occupy it in any sense. […] It depends truly on how Kiev will develop its policy in the next week,” he emphasized.

Susan Stewart, Deputy Head of Eastern Europe and Eurasia Research Division at German Institute for International and Security Affairs, also considers the Crimean referendum on 16 March 2014 illegitimate.

“It contradicts the Ukrainian constitution which, in Article 73, clearly states that any referenda in Ukraine which have to do with territorial matters and deciding on the territory of Ukraine have to be held on the national level, so they cannot be held on local level or regional level like it’s being done in the Crimea,” she explained.

However, in her opinion, the referendum will be held regardless of the claims of it being illegal, and the majority of the voters will opt for Crimea to join Russia.

“I do not think Ukrainian government will recognize this, but I think de facto this is likely to occur,” the expert stated.

In addition to that, in her opinion, one of the possible actions that Ukrainian parliament should take is to retroactively initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich, who fled the country at the end of February, because this decision is important from the legal point of view.

In his turn, Leszek Sykulski, famous Polish political analyst, director of the Czestochowa Institute of Geopolitics, reminded that Ukraine ended up in a difficult situation from the very moment it gained independence.

In his opinion, the fate of cooperation between European and Eurasian Unions depends on how the situation in the region is resolved.

“For Europe, Ukraine is just an object, for Russia, a vital factor for the creation of Eurasian Union, and for the US, a convenient tool to sow discord between the EU and Russia,” Leszek Sykulski explained.

According to him, Crimean people have full rights to self-determination, just as Moscow has the rights to ensure safety of ethnic Russians inhabiting another country, while Western countries must not use double standards when dealing with this problem after Kosovo referendum of independence.

“The West must not undermine the legal status of the forthcoming referendum within the international law, because it legalized ‘American peacekeeping’ in Kosovo by itself. Since 1999, the US and the UN are legally and morally responsible for the ‘Kosovo case,’ which ended up being not an end, but a stepping stone,” Leszek Sykulski stated.

In his opinion, the Crimean referendum will not mean immediate secession from Ukraine and will only lead to the expansion of its powers and to ARC’s independence. The expert also suggested that security threats will remain on the territory of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, and left open the possibility of subsequent revolution attempts and even acts of terror.

Kamal Sido, the head of Middle East Department of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), speaking about Turkey’s possible respond to the events in Crimea and Ukraine, said that he doubts Ankara will be involved in the conflict.

“I do not think Turkey will get involved, because it has enough of its own problems inside the country,” the human rights activist said.

The expert pointed out that Ankara’s attention is currently focused on the situation in Kurdish regions, and that conflict with Russia may have a negative impact on the country’s ethnical problems.

Sarah Reinke, the head of CIS Department of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), in her turn expressed her concern about the future of Crimean Tatars who live in ARC.

According to her, the state of affairs for them in the last few years was tense: they were not allowed to build new mosques, and the situation for their language and culture was also difficult.

The expert expressed her hope that Russian authorities will keep their promises to expand the privileges for Crimean Tatars in case Crimea joins the country, and also that these statements should not be just a part of Russian propaganda.

In addition, Sarah Reinke called for the population of Russia and Europe to continue the talks and keep the existing cultural, scientific and economic contacts.

“I think it is very important that contacts between the people of Russia and Europe do not interrupt. People must understand the future for Russia and the West will be easier if we have good relations. It will be easier in terms of economy, culture and politics,” the CIS specialist specified.

Vladislav Krasnov (W. George Krasnow), president of Russia and America Goodwill Association (RAGA), also spoke of the importance of not letting the current conflict develop. In his opinion, the US, the EU and Russia may take part in Ukrainian conflict only as intermediaries and peacekeepers.

“The only weapon in this conflict must be a fire hose to cool down the hotheads,” the expert said.

According to him, the decision adopted by the Supreme Council of Crimea is “a defense reaction to the revolution in Kiev.”

“Had Maidan coalition followed all the points of the agreement of 21 February 2014, Crimean people wouldn’t have a formal reason to ask Russia for protection. Moreover, it’s not about joining Russia, but about returning under its motherly wings,” Vladislav Krasnov emphasized.

Commenting on the US reaction to the events in Crimea, he pointed out Washington’s inconsistency and short-sightedness.

“The US are creating the second Syria on the brink of break-up, the second already-broken Iraq, and the second devastated Libya. Perhaps somebody should point the fire-hose not just at Maidan, but also at the White House,” the expert concluded.

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