DILUSIONS OF A DONETSK REFERENDUM
According to Western media, on May 11th, the people of Donetsk ‘overwhelmingly’ voted in favor of a referendum for independence granting Mr. Putin yet another score in his exhaustive and successful information war. The palimpsest of cold war propaganda, revitalized through control of Russian media, had once again afforded the voracious Russian president another jewel for his crowning achievement of reuniting the USSR under the auspices of the Eurasian Union.
What actually took place in Donetsk on May 11th was nothing but the ersatz facade of a non-legitimate plebiscite. Said simply, Mr. Putin organized another charade and Western media fell for it.
The pro-Russian rebels seized a government building but left to the citizens all the essential operations of Donetsk including running of the city and public utilities (both of which would be the first to be taken in a real attempt to control a city). The building the rebels inhabit is surrounded with a barricade and fortified with barbed wire and tires. Armed thugs in balaclavas guard the entrance with brooding intimidation. The floors used by the rebels in the stronghold are conspicuously covered in hate posters. The floors in between, however, reveal the silliness of the obfuscation.
On floors not decorated for media to report is a hostel for the homeless. Signs in the elevator say which floor is for the homeless and which is for ‘Attention: training of how to assemble and disassemble weapons on floor five.’
Outside this fortress of the pro-Russian rebels, daily life in Donetsk continues largely undisturbed. People sit at cafes sipping espresso while children play on leafy boulevards.
On the day of the referendum, to whet the media’s appetite for misreporting, polling stations were reduced four fold to give the illusion of mass attendance. The long queues were then shown on Russian TV encouraging a turnout of more pro-Russian voters. Fortuitously for Mr. Putin, because the referendum was a clear violation of Article 73 of the Ukraine Constitution, those who opposed Donetsk’s independence did not vote giving Mr. Putin a robust 90% win for Western media to display as evidence the strife of pro-Russian Ukrainians is soon to be over. A poll by The Economist found only 5% of Donetsk residents favor independence.
The leaders of the revolution are dubiously unfamiliar. Roman Lyagin, head of the election commission, is a former minion of Viktor Yanukovych. Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed governor of Donetsk, is a former member of MMM (one of the world’s largest Ponzi schemes headquartered in Russia). Pavel Gubarev, a ‘people’s governor’ fighting the ‘fascist junta’ in Kiev, was a member of Russian National Unity, Russia’s banned fascist party (fascism is government oppression of individual freedom).
Now that the orchestrated stunt is over, it is reported Mr. Pushilin, as well as other leaders, have tried to leave but were ‘discouraged’ from doing so by bodyguards (putativey compensated by Mr. Putin).
The schism between reality and what is portrayed in Western media as it pertains to the Ukraine has always been a stark one. This week’s referendum illustrates two important points. First, Mr. Putin is in no way backing down in the Ukraine despite his declaration to reduce troops along its border. And second, Mr. Obama and leaders of the EU, in particular, Mrs. Merkel, need to invoke harsh economic sanctions to halt any further damage to sovereign boundaries regardless of Germany’s petrol dependence on Russian energy resources (Nord Stream).