Donbass elections: Chance for peace in Ukraine

Published time: November 12, 2014 10:20

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

A woman casts a ballot during the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic leadership and local parliamentary elections at a polling station in the coastal settlement of Sedovo, south from Donetsk (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

RT Op / Edge

Elections held in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine are very important in terms of legitimizing the authorities in the two regions and establishing the peace process in the country, with a high voter turnout.

These are the two regions whose populations had categorically refused to accept the coup in Kiev and its aftermath, and who rejected the divisive ideology that the triumphant Maidan leaders had tried to impose on the entire country. They showed their own perspective on the historical processes which had shaped modern Ukraine.

This means that negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, including within the Contact Group, will from now on bring together elected representatives of the respective populations. This will strengthen the chances for finding political solutions that would be, first, accepted by the people and, second, implemented in practice. Consequently, the elections are an important contribution to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Russia respects the expression of the will of the people in southeastern Ukraine. The main task of the elected authorities is to address the extremely difficult economic and humanitarian situation in the region.

There are widespread accusations against Donbass to the effect that the elections run counter to the Minsk agreements and undermine the peace process. However, it is to be recalled that the Ukrainian authorities have not implemented many of their own Minsk commitments, including with respect to local elections.

They had failed to give effect to the special law adopted for that purpose: the law provided that its area of application was to be set by a special parliamentary decision that has never been adopted. They had set the date for local elections in Donbass for December 7, while the schedule agreed in Minsk provided for the timeframe between October 19 and November 3. In brief, they had made it impossible to hold elections within the framework of Ukrainian legislation, as was envisaged in Minsk.

To that, one may add the many other Ukrainian violations of Minsk commitments: the ceasefire is being violated, no amnesty has been granted, no progress is seen in devolution, no national dialogue is taking place, no economic program for Donbass has been adopted, and obstacles are created for humanitarian assistance to Donbass.

In these circumstances, it is utterly wrong to artificially pick one aspect of the interconnected Minsk agreements (the elections issue) and declare it the main criterion of the sustainability of the peace process.

If Kiev chooses to withdraw from talks under this pretext, it will bear full responsibility for derailing them. For Russia’s part, we are prepared to facilitate further dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk aimed at preservation of the single political, economic and humanitarian space of Ukraine.

 

The bullying of Hungary – the country that dared to disobey the US and EU

Reuters / Karoly Arvai

Reuters / Karoly Arvai

RT QUESTION MORE

25 years ago, Hungary was being toasted in the West for opening its border with Austria to East Germans, in a move which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now the Western elites are not happy with Budapest which they consider far too independent.

The refusal of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party to join the new US and EU Cold War against Russia, which has seen the Hungarian parliament approving a law to build the South Stream gas pipeline without the approval of the European Union, in addition to the populist economic policies Fidesz has adopted against the largely foreign owned banks and energy companies, has been met with an angry response from Washington and Brussels.

Hungarian officials have been banned from entering the US, while the European Commission has demanded that the Hungarians explain their decision to go ahead with South Stream. That’s on top of the European Commission launching legal action against the Hungarian government for its law restricting the rights of foreigners to buy agricultural land.

The bullying of Hungary hasn’t made many headlines because it’s so-called “democrats” from the West who have been doing the bullying.

Viktor Orban is not a communist, he is a nationally-minded conservative who was an anti-communist activist in the late 1980s, but the attacks on him and his government demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what label you go under – if you don’t do exactly what Uncle Sam and the Euro-elite tell you to do – your country will come under great pressure to conform. And all of course in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.”

Fidesz has been upsetting some powerful people in the West ever since returning to power in 2010. The previous “Socialist”-led administration was hugely popular in the West because it did everything Washington and Brussels and the international banking set wanted. It imposed austerity on ordinary people, it privatized large sections of the economy, and it took out an unnecessary IMF loan. Ironically, the conservative-minded Fidesz party has proved to be much better socialists in power than the big-business and banker friendly “Socialists” they replaced.

One of the first things that Fidesz and its coalition allies, the Christian Democratic People’s Party, (KDNP) did was to introduce an $855m bank tax – the highest such tax in Europe – a measure which had the financial elite foaming at the mouth.

Orban clashed with the IMF too, with his government rejecting new loan terms in 2012, and paying off early a loan taken out by the previous government, to reduce interest payments.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Reuters / Bernadett Szabo)

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Reuters / Bernadett Szabo)

In 2013, Orban took on the foreign-owned energy giants with his government imposing cuts of over 20% on bills. Neoliberals expressed their outrage at such “interventionist” policies, but under Orban, the economy has improved. Although it’s true that many still look back nostalgically to the days of “goulash communism” in the 1970s and 80s when there were jobs for all and food on the table for everyone. Unemployment fell to 7.4 percent in the third-quarter of this year; it was around 11 percent when Fidesz took power, while real wages rose by 2.9 percent in the year up to July.

The man his enemies called the “Viktator,” has shown that he will pursue whatever economic policies he believes are in his country’s national interest, regardless of the opinions of the western elite who want the Hungarian economy to be geared to their needs.

His refusal to scrap his country’s bank tax is one example; the closer commercial links with Russia are another. Russia is Hungary’s third biggest trading partner and ties between the two countries have strengthened in the last couple of years, to the consternation of western Russophobes. In April, a deal was struck for Moscow to loan Hungary €10 billion to help upgrade its nuclear plant at Paks.

Orban’s policy of improving trade and business links with Russia, while staying a member of the EU and NATO, has however been put under increasing strain by the new hostile policy towards Moscow from Washington and Brussels.

Orban again, has annoyed the West by sticking up for Hungary’s own interests. In May he faced attack when he had the temerity to speak up for the rights of the 200,000 strong Hungarian community living in Ukraine.”Ukraine can neither be stable, nor democratic, if it does not give its minorities, including Hungarians, their due. That is dual citizenship, collective rights and autonomy.” Hungary’s Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Kiev. Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland, the US’s most obedient lapdog in Eastern Europe, called Orban’s comments “unfortunate and disturbing” as if it was anything to do with him or his country.

In August, Orban accurately described the sanctions policy of the West towards Russia as like “shooting oneself in the foot.”“The EU should not only compensate producers somehow, be they Polish, Slovak, Hungarian or Greek, who now have to suffer losses, but the entire sanctions policy should be reconsidered,” Orban said.

In October, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also questioned the sanctions on Russia, revealing that his country is losing 50 million forints a day due to the policy.

Hungary has made its position clear, but for daring to question EU and US policy, and for its rapprochement with Moscow, the country has been punished.

It’s democratically elected civilian government which enjoys high levels of public support, has ludicrously – and obscenely – been likened to military governments which have massacred their opponents. “From Hungary to Egypt, endless regulations and overt intimidation increasingly target civil society,” declared US President Barack Obama in September.

Last month there was another salvo fired at Hungary – it was announced that the US had banned six unnamed Hungarian government officials from entering America, citing concerns over corruption- without the US providing any proof of the corruption.

RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov

RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov

At a certain point, the situation, if it continues this way, will deteriorate to the extent where it is impossible to work together as an ally,” warned the Charge D’Affaires of the US Embassy in Budapest, Andre Goodfriend. The decision and the failure to provide any evidence, understandably caused outrage in Hungary. “The government of Hungary is somewhat baffled at the events that have unfolded because this is not the way friends deal with issues,” said Janos Lazar, Orban‘s chief of staff.

The timing of the ban has to be noted, coming after the Hungarian government had criticized the sanctions on Russia and just before the national Parliament was due to vote on the South Stream pipeline. The pipeline, which would allow gas to be transported from Russia via the Black Sea and the Balkans to south and central Europe without passing through Ukraine, is a project which Russophobes in the West want cancelled.

“I am inclined to think that it is a punishment for the fact that we talk to Russia,” said Gabor Stier, the head foreign policy editor of the leading Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

“America thinks that we are corrupt, but we are a sovereign state, and it is our business. Many people in the United States do not like that Viktor Orban is very independent…..Corruption is just an excuse.”

It’s hard to disagree with Stier’s conclusions. Of course, there is corruption in Hungary, as there is in every country, but it pales in comparison with some countries who are faithful US allies and who Washington never criticizes. The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International, reveals that Latvia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina are all below Hungary, as indeed is Italy. Yet it’s Hungarian officials that the US is banning.

True to form, the attacks on Orban and his government in the Western media have chimed with the political attacks. ‘Is Hungary, the EU’s only dictatorship?’ asked Bloomberg View in April. The BBC ran a hostile piece on Orban and Fidesz in October entitled Cracks Emerge in leading party, and which referred to “government corruption” and “the playboy lifestyle of numerous party officials.”

The piece looked forward to the end of Fidesz rule.

While earlier this week, the New York Times published an OpEd by Kati Marton, whose late husband Richard Holbrooke, was a leading US diplomat, entitled Hungary’s Authoritarian Descent. You’d never guess that the Hungarian government wasn’t the flavor of the month in the West would you?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at their meeting in Budapest (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at their meeting in Budapest (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

The question which has to be asked is: will Hungary be the next country to be the target of a US/EU sponsored regime change?

We all know what happened to the last Viktor who refused to sever links with Russia. Will Orban suffer the same fate as Ukraine’s Yanukovich? There are good reasons for believing that he won’t.

Fidesz did make a mistake by announcing the introduction of a new internet tax last month, which brought thousands onto the streets to protest but they have since dropped the plans and the problem for the US and EU is that Orban and his government remain too popular. In October’s local elections Fidesz won 19 of Hungary’s 21 larger towns and cities, including the capital city Budapest, not bad for a party that‘s been in power since May 2010.

Orban’s brand of economic populism, combined with moderate nationalism, goes down well in a country where people remember just how awful things were when the neoliberal “Socialists” were in power. His style of leadership may be authoritarian, but Hungarians prefer having a leader who has cut fuel bills and reduced unemployment to one who mouths platitudes about “liberal democracy” but who imposed harsh austerity measures and leaves them unable to afford the daily essentials.

Moreover Hungary, is already a member of the EU and NATO unlike Ukraine under Yanukovich and isn’t about to leave either soon. On a recent visit to America Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the US TODAY newspaper “US is our friend, US is our closest ally.” The US clearly wants more from Hungary than just words, but while both Washington and Brussels would like to see a more obedient government in Budapest, the “liberal” and faux-left parties they support simply don’t have enough popular support for the reasons outlined above. And things would be even worse for the West if the radical nationalist party Jobbik, the third largest party in Parliament, and which made gains in October’s local elections, came to power- or if there was a genuine socialist/communist revival in the country. The fact is that Orban is in a very strong position and he knows it. That’s why he feels able to face down the threats from abroad and maintain a level of independence even though total independence is impossible within the EU and NATO.

We can expect the attacks on Orban and his government to intensify but the more the West attacks, the more popular Orban, who is able to present himself as the defender of Hungary’s national interests, becomes.

Hungary gave the West everything it wanted in 1989, and, as I pointed out here, its “reform” communist leadership was richly rewarded. But in 2014 it’s a very different story. In the interests of democracy and small countries standing up to bullying by powerful elites, long may Hungary’s spirited defiance continue.

Hajra, magyarok! Hajra Magyarorszag! [ Hurrah Hungarians! Hurrah Hungarians! ]

Incumbent Donbass leaders Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky win elections – final results

Donetsk after shelling by Kiev military forces

Donetsk after shelling by Kiev military forces

 

 

Incumbent PM Aleksandr Zakharchenko has won in Sunday’s elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, taking some 75 percent of the votes. In Lugansk, 63 percent have voted for the current leader Igor Plotnitsky.

In Donestk, Zakharchenko was trailed by Aleksandr Kofman, deputy speaker of the Novorossiya Union parliament, and Yury Sivokonenko, an MP from the local Supreme Council.

“After processing all the ballots, Aleksandr Zakharchenko received over 765,340 votes,” said Roman Lyagin, the head of Central Election Committee.

“Aleksandr Kofman got 111,024 votes, and Yury Sivokonenko 93,280,” he added.

Lyagin also said he doesn’t give percentage data, because he thinks that absolute numbers are more open and precise.

Total voter turnout in the Donetsk People’s Republic reached 1,012,682.

In Lugansk, Igor Plotnitsky, the incumbent leader, won with just over 63 percent of the vote, according to final results provided by the local Central Election Committee.

Meanwhile, the lead in the parliamentary elections – also held on Sunday – has been claimed by Zakharchenko’s Donetsk Republic party, which has 662,725 votes, the head of the Election Commission added. The rival Svobodniy Donbass party has collected 306,892 votes.

In Lugansk, the incumbent leader and head of the Peace to Lugansk Region movement, Igor Plotnitsky, has won 69,42 percent of votes, while some 22 percent voted for its closest rival, the Lugansk Economic Union.

Members of the self-defense forces cast their votes during the elections for the leader and the People's Council of the Donetsk People's Republic (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

Members of the self-defense forces cast their votes during the elections for the leader and the People’s Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

The self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk took to polling stations to vote for their leaders and MPs on Sunday. Over 360 polling stations were open in Donetsk for three million potential voters. Meanwhile, 102 polling stations for approximately 1.5 million voters were open in Lugansk.

In Lugansk, the overall turnout exceeded 60 percent, according to the head of the Central Election Commission in the LPR, Sergey Kozyakov. He added that by 8p.m. local time, nearly 630,000 residents had come to cast their votes.

Kiev has said it will not recognize the elections, as they contradict Ukrainian legislation. Ukraine’s Security Service has opened a criminal case against the organizers of the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk.

EU’s new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has also spoken out against the elections, arguing that it will be an obstacle to reconciliation in Ukraine.

“I consider today’s ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ in Donetsk and Luhansk ‘People’s Republics’ a new obstacle on the path towards peace in Ukraine. The vote is illegal and illegitimate, and the European Union will not recognise it,” Mogherini said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko condemned the elections as illegitimate on Sunday and called on Russia not to recognize the results. “I count on Russia not to recognize the so-called elections because they are a clear violation of the September 5 Minsk protocol, which was also signed by Russia’s representative,” he said in a statement.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement late on Sunday saying that Moscow “respects the expression of will of the south-eastern [Ukrainians].” The ministry noted a high turnout and reminded that in the current situation it is “extremely important” for Kiev to work on conducting dialogue with the people of the region.

 

Luhansk residents cast their votes at a polling station during the elections for the head and the People's Council of the Luhansk People's Republic (Reuters / Valery Melnikov)

Luhansk residents cast their votes at a polling station during the elections for the head and the People’s Council of the Luhansk People’s Republic (Reuters / Valery Melnikov)

Moscow earlier pointed out that according to the Minsk peace agreements, elections in both Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics should be conducted between October 19 and November 3.

Thus Poroshenko’s order from October 16, which set the date of elections in the self-proclaimed republics for December 7, “contradicts the Minsk agreements,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Ukraine conducted parliamentary elections on October 26.

No serious violations of public order were reported during the Sunday elections in the DPR. “We have no reports about incidents at polling stations,” a DPR Interior Ministry spokesman told TASS news agency. Minor incidents included a false bomb threat.

International observers said the elections in the self-proclaimed republics followed democratic standards, adding that they saw no violations during the process.

An MP from the Upper Chamber of Italy’s Parliament, Lucio Malan, acting as an observer at the elections in Donetsk, told RT that people “were not influenced in any way” during the vote.

The prevention of double or triple voting appeared to be good, up to international standards” he added.

What was possible for us to see and what we witnessed is that they fit completely into generally accepted democratic electoral standards,” Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German observer in Lugansk, told RT. “What was really impressing – the masses of people at the polling stations, standing sometimes for hours just to put their vote, to express their political will.”

“First I believe the elections followed international standards of democratic elections. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and the vigor with which the people went to the polls to express their opinion,” US Senior Attorney Frank Abernathy, an observer in Lugansk, told RT.

Russia ready to recognize Ukraine parliament election – Lavrov

Counting ballots during election to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada. (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

Counting ballots during election to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

Russia is ready to recognize parliament elections in Ukraine, but is very concerned with two radical parties getting into the Ukrainian parliament, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with LifeNews channel.

“Elections did indeed take place, even though not across all of Ukrainian territory,” Lavrov told Life News and Izvestiya newspaper. “I think Russia will recognize the election results — it is very important to us that Ukraine will finally get a government, which is not focused on internal conflict or ‘dragging’ the country towards east or west divide, but instead work on how to facilitate unity in the country.”

However, promotion of certain radical elements into Ukraine’s parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), such as the Svoboda Party and Radical Party, remains a serious concern, Lavrov said.

The Svoboda Party’s platform is based on principles that stand in solidarity with Hitler’s ideology in Europe, he said, adding that EU has turned away from the party due to its radicalism in the past.

“The EU protested against the Svoboda Party joining the ranks of Rada back in 2012, rightly referring to it as ultranationalist … Brussels called on other political forces not to cooperate precisely because of the party’s views.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

 

In terms of future cooperation with Ukraine, Russia is optimistic that it will have partners in the Ukrainian Parliament who will be open to conversation, Lavrov noted.

“I am confident that we will have someone to talk to in the Verkhovna Rada and in the government itself, primarily because the driving force of the Ukrainian parliament will be President’s Petro Poroshenko Bloc, which is Russia’s partner, according to the Minsk agreement.”

He added that Poroshenko has repeatedly confirmed his commitments to the Minsk treaty and firmly declared that he will not allow the military scenario to repeat. Avoiding another outbreak of violence is the top priority right now, Lavrov said.

Lavrov also highlighted that upcoming elections on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk self-proclaimed republics will prove to be very important in terms of legitimizing the Ukrainian government, as they were outlined in the Minsk protocol.

“We believe that this is one of the most important Minsk agreements. We are assuming that the elections will be carried out as discussed and we will of course recognize the results,” Lavrov said.

A woman puts a ballot into a ballot box at a polling station in Kiev during the Ukrainian early parliamentary election. (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

A woman puts a ballot into a ballot box at a polling station in Kiev during the Ukrainian early parliamentary election. (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

Following the signing of the Minsk protocol, which established the ceasefire between Kiev and self-defence forces in eastern Ukraine, various violations have been reported on both sides.

“This is largely due to the fact that the Ukrainian security officials and self-defense forces could not finalize the borderline from which to withdraw heavy weapons,” Foreign Minister Lavrov argued.

Russia is currently helping out in the negotiations to determine the separation line between the Ukrainian forces and the local militia, which might take another two or three days. “After that it will be possible to withdraw heavy weapons, which, will be the deciding factor in calming the situation.”

Russia continues to support a nationwide dialogue, which would involve all regions and political forces in Ukraine. Kiev’s government promised to start such a dialogue back in April, but nothing has come to pass. “Russia is calling for this process to begin as soon as possible.”

Poroshenko Bloc leading in Ukraine elections, 7 parties to enter Rada – exit polls

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds ballots at a polling station in Kiev (Mikhail Palinchak/ RIA Novosti)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds ballots at a polling station in Kiev (Mikhail Palinchak/ RIA Novosti)

RT news

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s party is in the lead with over 22 percent of votes in the country’s Sunday parliamentary elections, exit polls say. Poroshenko’s bloc is closely followed by two other pro-Europe parties.

A total of seven political parties will be represented in Ukraine’s Parliament – Verkhovnaya Rada.

The Petro Poroshenko Bloc took a winning margin with 23 percent and is closely followed by the People’s Front party – led by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk – which got over 21 percent, according to international exit polls.

We can say today that a third of voters supports the president’s course for carrying out reforms for entering the European Union,” said Yuriy Lutsenko, the leader of the Poroshenko Bloc.

After the exit polls were announced, Poroshenko thanked voters for their support and said that coalition talks will start on Monday.

In third place with 14 percent is the newly-formed Self-Help party led by Andrey Sadovuy, the mayor of the major western Ukrainian city of Lvov. Next is the Opposition Bloc headed by former deputy prime ministerYury Boyko with over 7 percent, according to the polls.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s party is in the lead with over 22 percent of votes in the country’s Sunday parliamentary elections, exit polls say. Poroshenko’s bloc is closely followed by two other pro-Europe parties. A total of seven political parties will be represented in Ukraine’s Parliament – Verkhovnaya Rada. The Petro Poroshenko Bloc took a winning margin with 23 percent and is closely followed by the People's Front party - led by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk - which got over 21 percent, according to international exit polls. "We can say today that a third of voters supports the president's course for carrying out reforms for entering the European Union," said Yuriy Lutsenko, the leader of the Poroshenko Bloc. After the exit polls were announced, Poroshenko thanked voters for their support and said that coalition talks will start on Monday. In third place with 14 percent is the newly-formed Self-Help party led by Andrey Sadovuy, the mayor of the major western Ukrainian city of Lvov. Next is the Opposition Bloc headed by former deputy prime minister Yury Boyko with over 7 percent, according to the polls.

 

The Radical Party lead by nationalist Oleg Lyashko took fifth place in preliminary polls with over 6 percent, and was followed by far-right Svoboda (Freedom) party with less than 6 percent.

The least votes – over 5 percent – were given to the All-Ukrainian Union Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), currently led by Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Timoshenko, who is calling for a national referendum on Ukraine joining NATO and imposing sanctions against Russia.

It is no surprise that the three major pro-EU parties would secure the most votes in the Rada elections. However, the unexpected turn is the high percentage of the Opposition Bloc which is linked with the allies of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

The international exit poll was conducted by the joint forces of the Canadian government, the Sociological Group “Rating” (Ukraine), Baltic Surveys (The Gallup Organisation) with the support of the International Republican Institute (IRI).

The Ukrainians voted Sunday to choose from a total of 29 political parties. A party has to pass the threshold of five percent in order to be represented in the Rada. Half of the seats in the 450 member parliament will be filled by the leading blocs, while the other half will be filled by candidates running in single-member constituencies.

However, voting did not take place in the eastern part of the country in the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Authorities of these regions stated they would not go to the polls and plan to hold elections of their own heads and parliaments on November 2.

Russia has supported the eastern republics saying it will accept the results of both elections.

“It’s now necessary to support fledgling ties between Kiev and the People’s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk and then to start a comprehensive political dialogue with the purpose of finding ways for reaching national accord and conducting constitutional reform with the participation of all regions and political forces,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Verdens Gang (VG) Norwegian newspaper on Saturday.

Ukraine’s election: Behind the looking glass

An election billboard in Kiev featuring its Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. Extraordinary parliamentary election to Verkhovna Rada.(RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

An election billboard in Kiev featuring its Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. Extraordinary parliamentary election to Verkhovna Rada.(RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

 

The vote taking place this weekend in Kiev-controlled territories is part of the Maidan junta’s desperate quest for legitimacy. Nazis still dominate Ukrainian politics, while Kiev dreams of a military ‘final solution’ for the east.

In 2001, the Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote a book titled ‘Democracy: The God that Failed’, in which he – among other things – compared the process of voting to a religious ritual. Just as the ancient religious rituals served to confirm the divine right of ancient kings, the ballot box is used today to bestow the same kind of blessing on the secular rulers of modernity. In his study, Hoppe actually demonstrated that the supposedly oppressive monarchies actually safeguarded peoples’ lives and liberty far more than democracy has – before making a case for outright anarchy. Agree with him or not, his comparison of modern democracy to ancient religious ritual strikes close to home.

Western leaders routinely speak of ‘democracy’ as a virtue unto itself, even using religious phrasing such as “rooted in the sanctity of the individual” (BH Obama in Talinn, September 2014). In actuality, democracy is simply a decision-making process in which the majority gets its way.

The way it is practiced by the West in the countries they ‘liberate’, however, democracy means whatever the ‘liberators’ say it means. Thus an overwhelming vote in favor of independence in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk is not ‘democratic’ – because the High Priesthood in the West says so – while the violent coup in Kiev is the pinnacle of democracy, because it was “midwifed” by Washington (per V Nuland’s famous phone call).

Until it could get itself blessed by a proper ritual, though, the junta that came to power in Kiev in February, following a coup against President Yanukovich, had a legitimacy problem. Its prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, was essentially appointed by the Americans (“Yats is our guy,” to quote Nuland again). Following the separation of Crimea, the junta called for an early presidential vote in May. By the time it was held, Donetsk and Lugansk had already held independence referenda and declared their separation. Even so, the junta’s Western backers proclaimed Petro Poroshenko – elected on May 25 – as the legitimate leader of Ukraine. Quite unlike the “aggressor and invader” it was accused of being, Moscow was willing to accept that, even after Poroshenko launched an all-out war against the two eastern regions.

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Kiev residents and municipal workers clear barricades on Independence Square (Maidan).(RIA Novosti / Alexandr Maksimenko)

That war was lost. Though the Ukrainian Army has resorted to lobbing ballistic missiles at cities, while volunteer Nazi battalions such as ‘Azov’ have terrorized any civilians they came across, all attempts to crush the rebellion in the East have failed. Hence all the crying about ‘Russian invasion’ to the Western press, but also the coming general election. That way, the Kiev junta can try and show their Western sponsors (George Soros being the most recent, outspoken fan) that they are ‘democratic’, and thus worth backing.

More so than anything that has happened in Ukraine over the past nine months, this weekend’s vote will showcase the absurdity of ‘democracy’ as practiced by the genuinely undemocratic. What was the Maidan, if not the rejection of democratic procedures in favor of outright mob rule? With dissidents beaten up, imprisoned, shot or burned alive (as in Odessa), the scope of acceptable political positions in Ukraine today is the triangle between the Nationalist-Socialist Oleg Tyagnybok, Right Sector boss Dmitry Yarosh and Radical nationalist Oleg Lyashko. And with every torchlight parade and fresh honor given to these Nazis – not the ‘neo’ variety, but the actual, unrepentant WWII kind – that triangle keeps getting smaller.

Recent polls – by the Western-funded Democratic Initiatives Foundation and published by the Kyiv Post – suggest a significant lead for President Poroshenko’s party, followed by Lyashko’s Radicals and Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front. Meanwhile, the formerly-ruling Party of Regions and the Communists – intimidated, brutalized and all-but-banned – are polling in single digits. However, some 32 percent of respondents have said they were “undecided”, which suggests they are either afraid to reveal their preferences, or haven’t yet decided on the lesser of evils.

Residents of those parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions still under Kiev’s control will have a choice to vote for the flavor of their occupiers; 13 out of 21 electoral districts in the Donetsk Region and five out of 11 in the Lugansk Region are to be open for business. But the ‘liberators’ themselves won’t get to vote; for whatever reason, the junta’s legislature failed to pass a law providing for voting by soldiers at the front.

Meanwhile, the ‘civil society’ organizations funded for years by the West (for example, National Endowment for Democracy lists OPORA as one of its aid recipients in 2009) to create fertile ground for the Maidan rebellion are reporting widespread violations of campaign rules. Per the Kyiv Post, OPORA has already reported over “527 violations, including at least 80 cases of alleged voter bribery.” They either haven’t got the memo about how this election should be a showcase of ‘democratic’ Ukraine versus the ‘authoritarian’ Russia, or they did get the memo, and are significantly under-reporting voter intimidation and manipulation.

RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov

RIA Novosti / Maksim Blinov

For their part, the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics are refusing to go along with the vote, scheduling their own elections for November 7. They may not have a chance to hold them. There isn’t much left of the September ceasefire, if constant reports of artillery and ballistic missile attacks are anything to go by. A renewed Ukrainian offensive as winter approaches may be a stupid idea, but the junta’s generals have certainly demonstrated greater stupidity over the course of the campaign.

When Croatia separated from Yugoslavia, in June 1991, several Serb-majority areas refused to accept Zagreb’s rule. The Croatian government, backed by Germany, initially failed to conquer these areas, and accepted a UN-guaranteed armistice (Vance Plan). Four years later, backed by the US, Zagreb launched an all-out assault and ‘reintegrated’ the territories by force, expelling some 200,000 Serbs that lived there. Poroshenko’s adviser Yury Lutsenko openly stated back in September that Kiev ought to follow Croatia’s example in regard to the Donbass.

The ‘democratic’ West said nothing. After all, what Croatia did was a ‘democracy’ too. Because in the eyes of Western governments, the word means whatever they say it means, nothing more and nothing less. To borrow from Lewis Carrol’s description of logic in ‘Behind the Looking Glass’, “The question is merely which is to be master – that’s all.”

Nebojsa Malic for RT

Nebojsa Malic is a foreign policy analyst and blogger, working in Washington, DC. A columnist for Antiwar.com and Strategic Culture Foundation, he occasionally appears on RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

 

 

The agony of defeat: Public reaction Scottish referendum

Reuters / Russell Cheyne

Reuters / Russell Cheyne

RT news

Voters in Scotland chose to stay within the United Kingdom on Thursday night, following an intense campaign which almost saw the country become an independent state.

And while thousands of Scots voted – many for the first time – to break from the union, their hopes were dashed when the ‘No’ campaign pipped them to the post.

 Here's our map showing the #indyref results for each Scottish local authority, put together by @CullinaneCarl 4:46 AM - 19 Sep 2014


Here’s our map showing the #indyref results for each Scottish local authority, put together by @CullinaneCarl
4:46 AM – 19 Sep 2014

The outcome of the vote upset many who spent weeks campaigning for Scotland’s’ independent future, and they expressed their disappointment on social media:

Marc: If its a No vote I will be so ashamed and embarrassed to live in a country where people chose fear over hope #indyref #ScotsDecide
8:09 PM – 18 Sep 2014

Barry Dwyer: Scotland! The SNP tried, but U blew the chance to rid yourselves of Tories, Monarchy, Imperialism, & Westminster elite forever – try again!

UK: “I’m now an ex-Scot” Edinburgh’s Yes campaigners gutted by result

In Glasgow- the city that overwhelmingly voted ‘Yes’, voters took to the streets and celebrated despite it all.

“Shove the union up your a**e” they chanted.

‘Shove your union up your arse!’ Yes supporters on indyref results

Some Scottish nationalists even went as far as to say the referendum was rigged:

Steven Delahunty: The Referendum was rigged! POSTAL VOTE FRAUD! @bbcscotlandnews
5:26 AM – 19 Sep 2014

Chris Franck: Scotland Referendum rigged? – http://youtu.be/kUR-HgAtwtg
4:18 AM – 19 Sep 2014

Published on Sep 18, 2014
http://www.undergroundworldnews.com
There is damning evidence that shows that this vote is a fraud. Just from the video and the pictures alone, we can see errors! Can you imagine how much is wrong? This is the Best Video proof you will also ever get showing the votes were changed to NO on purpose!

While others suspected that the secret service was behind the ‘No’ victory:

J. @Kirktonparkie: #ScotlandDecides has MI5 targeted Scotland’s YES city count? #indyref #yes #VoteYes
8:39 PM – 18 Sep 2014

Robert Ryan: RT @meljomur: My friend who worked in MI5, did tell me back in June, that there was no way in hell the Establishment would let Scotland go.
9:00 PM – 18 Sep 2014