The “referenda” in eastern Ukraine (The Gazette, May 12) orchestrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s armed thugs cannot fool the world, despite their claim to a “90 percent favorable separatist vote” with an alleged 75 percent turnout.
After Russia’s recent imperial annexation of Crimea, also based on a sham referendum, the “vote” in the eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk was also, in fact, orchestrated by Putin — who cynically asked to “put off the balloting,” knowing full well it would still proceed.
The intent all along has been to thereby disrupt the plan for today’s national vote for Ukraine’s new president. The vote is intended to legitimize a new presidency after Victor Yanukovich’s ignominious flight from Ukraine last February. It is based on the recent three winter months of justified, massive popular protests at Kyiv’s “Maidan” and elsewhere in Ukraine.
This issue is of local, as well as national and international, importance.
Local Ukrainians have spearheaded boycotts of Russia products here (Lukoil gas, Smirnoff vodka, etc.) in solidarity with sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Putin for his invasion of Crimea.
In November 2013, various local Ukrainian parishes — including those in Watervliet, Troy, Cohoes and Amsterdam — participated in a local commemoration of the “Holodomor” — the 1932-33 genocidal famine in Ukraine perpetrated by Stalin.
Based on personal observations in e-mails received this past week from Ukraine, the following points must be articulated about the so-called referenda:
u The voting was illegal as per the Constitution of Ukraine.
u Approximately 100,000 pre-marked ballots were captured in a car by the Ukrainian army just prior to the pseudo-referendum outside the rebel held city of Donetsk, all marked “yes” for separation from Ukraine. Question: How many other such cars succeeded in their deliveries?
u No prior notice or information was given as to the ballot question, nor was there any media discussion, debate or voicing of other opinions.
u There was no security or procedures to prevent multiple voting.
u People voted with Russian (not Ukrainian) passports — i.e. not being eligible, as non-residents of Donetsk or Luhansk (Ukraine not recognizing dual citizenship).
u At certain “polling stations,” armed men prematurely shut down the vote.
u No election monitors or objective international observers were present to report on it.
In such blatant circumstances of fraud and intimidation, the areas in question have consistently lied about the legitimacy of their vote and, on the basis of such perversion of the concept of voting, declared themselves “independent republics” and requested to join the Russian Federation.
The interim government in Kyiv has called last week’s exercise a “criminal farce” with no force in national or international law, but only valid in the eyes of Putin, Russia’s dictator, and his Muscovite Kremlin lackeys.
Even in the “good old Soviet days” sham elections with 99 percent pro-Communist party support in the USSR did not resort to such obvious intimidation as happened last week with numerous Kalishnikov-armed “little green men” (i.e. unidentified Russian soldiers) thereby constituting a clear threat to electors, supposedly engaged in a “free and fair” vote.
Hitler’s “elections” in the 1930s look good by comparison.
It is also quite sad right now to contemplate that Putin — whom many consider the world’s number one dictator and international pariah — intends in early June to stand beside the United States’ democratically elected President Obama to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France.
World War II was fought by the democracies to end fascism and dictatorship, which is clearly today being espoused and practiced by latter-day “imperial” Russia and its “czar,” one Vlad Putin of the KGB (and never “retired” from such).
If anything, the moral principles and underpinnings of democracies ought to be recalled and honored during such days of remembrance. Consistent with such, Putin should not only be ostracized, but also issued an arrest warrant to be brought forthwith before the Hague International Court of Justice as a “war criminal.”
Without provocation, he clearly violated the territorial integrity and legitimate sovereignty of a neighboring country, Ukraine — all notwithstanding Russia’s own 1994 Budapest Memorandum guarantees, which have been totally disregarded now by virtue of repeated and renewed Moscovite imperial pretensions.
Roman B. Karpishka of Loudonville is a retired lawyer. He has visited Ukraine about 20 times and was an election observer six times. His father emigrated from Ukraine in 1927.