Thursday, May 8, 2014

Russian rebels go ahead with sham independence vote

Sunday’s vote on whether to make parts of eastern Ukraine independent apparently is going ahead.
No one knows how many people will vote, where they will vote, or whether Ukrainians outside the Russian-controlled areas will vote at all.
Will there be exit polls or firefights? At least 50 people have died in clashes already,
Who will count the votes? The “Donestsk People’s Republic?”
Millions of ballots have been printed but who will distribute them and determine who is qualified to vote. Obviously in Russian held areas it will be separatists.
It is not clear whether a significant number of Ukrainians who support the government will even turn out in areas not controlled by the rebels.
The Ukrainian Army may prevent the distribution of ballots.
Will people have to cross checkpoints to get to polling booths. Will that mean going through points held by armed Ukrainian Army soldiers and the Russian-backed rebels.
Polls have consistently shown that even in areas where Russian is the mother tongue a majority of 58 percent supports keeping the government together. An AP poll this week by Pew Research showed more than two-thirds of Ukrainian speakers want the country to stay together.
No one, not even Russian President Vladimir Putin, has indicated the vote be accepted as the will of the people. Kiev, the European Union and the US regard the vote as a sham, much like the so-called elections that kept the communist regime in power in the Soviet Union for more than 70 years.
Will there be observers present? They would risk arrest by the rebels. Journalists who asked too many hard questions also have been detained.
The rebels say Kiev has refused to talk with them since corrupt former President Viktor Yanukovch was ousted on Feb. 22, the second time Ukrainians had driven him power.
The vote on Sunday will have even less credibility than the Crimean vote to become part of Russia. Both will have been conducted at the end of a gun.
It is unlikely that the separatists would give up their often violent takeover of government buildings if they lose the vote.
Presumably, even though he asked that the vote be delayed, Putin will try to use the vote as leverage to bring Russian separatists to the table in talks that have been confined to the EU, US, the Ukrainian government and Russia.
Putin's followers believe he is a master of subterfuge. In fact, Napoleon [Unlink] managed to juggle a dozen different opposing forces during his takeover of Italy. Anyone who flouted his will, as the Russian rebels have done, would be destroyed militarily or economically, or both.
Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria [Unlink] said President Barack Obama [Unlink] has brought allies who were opposed to the slash-and-burn tactics of his predecessor back into the US camp. A return to the Cold War helps Obama, not Russia, because the world remembers the millions killed and imprisoned under Soviet rule in Russia and its vassal states.
Zakaria said, “It (Russia) is a declining power, terrified that the few countries that still cluster around it are moving inexorably away.”
And all the military marches in all of Russia, such as the one that will occur Friday in Moscow on the anniversary of the end of World War 2, will not put the empire back together again. Missiles parading down the street will remind “Baby Boomers” throughout the world what Soviet power really meant.
Russian TV

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