Photo from https://twitter.com/myrevolutionrus
The Pontiac Tribune, May 13, 2014
by Joshua Tartakovsky
The referendums in Lugansk and Donetsk which took place yesterday on May 11, 2014 were met with wide criticism by United States officials and the Western media. What must we do with these Russians, they were probably wondering. Here they are, practicing democracy in broad daylight, even before we invaded them or are bombing them! Something must have gone terribly wrong. What kind of strange plot are they up to? After all, only Westerners know what democracy is and only we can determine outcomes by supporting an unconstitutional coup in Kiev, backed by violence of neo-Nazi Right Sector. Any deviation from the will of the unelected Kiev government must be condemned.
In the referendum held throughout the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, people came out to vote en mass despite the fact that various areas were occupied or under siege by armed mercenaries and the fascist ‘Right Sector’ National Guard.
According to the Independent, 90% of residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took part in the voting process. 89% of the votes in Donetsk and 96% in Lugansk, were in favor of independence. In Krasnoarmeisk, the National Guard sent by the Kiev junta murdered in cold blood at least one citizen and wounded another. This crude attempt to terrorize citizens and forcibly prevent them from taking part in the democratic process utterly failed.
The United States, however, did not find it necessary to condemn the violence unleashed on residents by the regime’s forces. Instead, it issued a declaration which said that “the referenda being planned for May 11 in portions of eastern Ukraine by armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder. If these referenda go forward, they will violate international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The United States will not recognize the results of these illegal referenda.”
However, citizens’ right to vote for independence is entirely in line with international law, even if it violates domestic law, according to the International Court of Justice. Clearly, UK Foreign Minister William Hague was ignorant of this basic fact when he said that the referendum was “illegal by anybody’s standard“. Furthermore, the ones creating “division and disorder” were not citizens partaking in a democratic process, but the murderous National Guard, composed of neo-Nazis.
In the local elections held in US-occupied Iraq in 2013, Iraqis voted despite the fact that explosions wounded six Iraqis. In response to the turnout, estimated at 50%, the United States Embassy said that “”In the face of security threats, millions of Iraqi citizens exercised their democratic right to cast their ballots at polls in twelve provinces across the country to choose new provincial councils.” However, what was true for US-occupied Iraq, was not true for Donetsk and Lugansk. The US did not praise the referendum held, although citizens practiced democracy in their actions, even when intimidated by violence.
The US has also laid the blame indirectly on Russia, complaining that it has not attempted to“forestall these referenda”. By this point, it is unclear what the US wants exactly. It constantly claims that the Russia is the one behind the scenes causing unrest in Ukraine, and yet it now criticizes the fact that Russia did not use its influence to meddle in citizens’ democratic right. Furthermore, Russian President Vladimir Putin has explicitly asked on May 8, that the referenda be postponed. At the same time, now that residents have made their wishes clear, Russia said that it will respects the results and called for the Kiev regime to engage in dialogue with residents, rather than use violence. It is unfortunate that respecting people’s rights to democracy has become such a controversial issue.
Furthermore, while in Iraq, it was al-Qaeda which engaged in explosives, attempting to disrupt the democratic process, in Ukraine the so called National Guard attempted to crudely intervene in a fully democratic process, which is in complete allegiance with international law.
Various pictures and videos from the scene, however, suggest that the opposite took place and that citizens voted in a very orderly fashion, despite the harsh conditions and violence. It is also a pity that the BBC journalist Sarah Rainsford chose to be filmed with a nearly empty scene as her background and did not depict the many lines of voters who came out in various locations. Rainsford also expressed her dismay at the fact that none of the voters she saw voted against independence, however, as she rightly said, the ‘No’ option was available on the ballot.
Although it may be convenient to stigmatize Russians as chaotic and disorderly, therefore giving the impression of drunken, burly bearded men who are pushing their way around, various pictures posted from the elections suggested a different scenery. In fact, the referendum was held in a very orderly matter even when one does not consider the difficult circumstances, that include a militia sent by the Kiev junta attempting to stop the referendum by force.
Indeed, what we saw on Sunday was democracy in actions, criticized by the West.