Voices from Russia

Friday, 7 March 2014

Russia to Respect Democratic Choice in Crimea Referendum


Together Forever!

Unknown Artist


Great Patriotic War poster


On Friday morning, delegates from the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (VS ARK) led by Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov met with RF Gosduma Deputies. RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin announced Russia’s readiness to respect any choice made by citizens of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (ARK) in the 16 March referendum. He said at the meeting with the VS ARK delegation, “We’ll treat this historic choice of the Crimean population with respect. We’ll support the free and democratic choice of the people of the Crimea and Sevastopol”. Konstantinov said, “No matter what happens to us, the referendum will go ahead; it’ll clarify things for Crimean citizens. It’s obvious that the country that the Crimea once loved no longer exists. We don’t understand this new entity. It’s illegitimate. We’re scared of it”. He pointed up that all the decisions taken by the VS ARK are licit, saying, “We’re heading in the right direction”. Konstantinov noted that the VS ARK decision that the Crimea should return to Russia again is historic, “There’s only one question… will Russia take us back?” At the same time, a rally near the Gosduma building, right before the arrival of the VS ARK delegation, supported Crimean-Russian friendship. Public groups People’s Militia and Officers of Russia organised the rally, whose participants chanted, “Russia and Crimea… Friends Forever”. According to police estimates, about 300 people met where Bolshaya Dmitrovka and Mokhovaya Streets intersect.


A source told us that RF Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko would meet with a VS ARK delegation on Friday, saying, “A large delegation of our Crimean colleagues, led by VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov is coming to Moscow. The delegation will meet with the chairmen of both houses of the RF Federal Assembly; the upcoming all-Crimea referendum will be high on the agenda of these negotiations”. Our source also said that the Federation Council would like the Crimean delegation to tell them about the situation in the ARK and in the Ukraine as a whole, to tell us about the progress on the preparations for the referendum, noting, “We’re ready to share our legislative expertise with the VS ARK People’s Deputies. We’ll also discuss the sending of an observation mission composed of Gosduma Deputies and Federation Council members. Another item is on the agenda… we’d like to discuss the prospective development of relations between Russian federal subjects and the Ukraine, the Crimea in particular. In short, we wish to discuss an entire range of political and socioeconomic issues”.


SK Rossii spokesman Vladimir Markin said that authorities in Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk and Voronezh Oblasts opened criminal investigations after local governors received threats allegedly linked to the current situation in the Ukraine, saying, “We opened criminal cases under Article 318 Part 1 of the UK RF ‘Threats to Use Violence Against a Representative of the Authorities or His Family Member in Connection with the Fulfilment of His Professional Duties’”.


On Friday, SK Rossii spokesman Vladimir Markin said that the SK opened a criminal inquiry against Aleksandr Muzichko, the coördinator of the Ukrainian Right Sector ultra-nationalist movement, for involvement in acts of banditry targeting RF forces in Chechnya in the 1990s.  It put Muzichko, nicknamed Sashko Bily, on an international wanted list on suspicion of killing Russian servicemen. Markin said, “Muzichko faces accusations of killing at least 20 soldiers of federal forces held in captivity. Today, we named Muzichko as a defendant and put him on an international wanted list. We filed a petition to put him in custody in Yessentuki City Court in Stavropol Krai. The Main Investigative Department (GSU) of the SK RF in the North Caucasian Federal District opened a criminal case against Ukrainian citizen Aleksandr Muzichko, nicknamed Sashko Bily, under Article 209 Part 1 of UK RF ‘For Formation of a Gang to Attack Russian Citizens and Heading It’. We opened this criminal case due to information obtained in our investigation of a clash between illegal armed units led by warlords Shamil Basaev and Khattab and servicemen of the Pskov Airborne Division near the village of Ulus-Kert in Chechnya in 2000”.


On Friday, the leaders of all four factions represented in the RF Gosduma, the lower chamber of the RF Federal Assembly, declared their support for the VS ARK decision to hold an all-Crimea popular referendum on 16 March on the ARK’s future status. At a meeting with VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov and his delegation presided over by RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin, KPRF First Secretary Gennady Zyuganov said, “The will of the people is sacred for me, as a human being and as a political figure. We’ll support it as strongly as possible”. Gosduma Deputy Chairman and United Russia faction leader Vladimir Vasilyev said that the Gosduma resolutely supports the Crimean population in this difficult time, after the Euromaidan putsch in Kiev. Gosduma Deputy Chairman and United Russia Deputy Sergei Zheleznyak said, “Most Russian citizens rejoiced and were proud to learn of the decisions adopted by the VS ARK”.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who also attended the meeting with the Crimean delegation, said that the news of the VS ARK decision pleased millions of Russian citizens, saying, “It was the most joyous piece of news since 1945”. Zhirinovsky called on Crimean citizens not to be afraid of anything because Russia would certainly support the results of this referendum, noting, “I’d like to assure you that everything will happen just the way the people of Crimea want it to happen. You should stand firm. You shouldn’t have any doubts. People will carry you on their shoulders. Your names will create a new chapter in the history of the Crimea”. A Just Russia faction First Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yemelynov also assured the Crimean delegation that Gosduma Deputies would support any decision democratically made at the all-Crimea referendum, saying, “Russia is able to extend financial support to Crimea, and we’ll prepare amendments to the budget in the near future”. Gosduma SNG Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said, “A few days after the [all-Crimea] referendum, the Gosduma will ratify the decision made by the people of the Crimea in that referendum”. Naryshkin told the VS ARK delegation at the end of the meeting, “[Gosduma] Deputies support you in the most resolute way”.


On Friday, VOR correspondent Lada Korotun reported that the RF Federation Council would back the VS ARK’s decision to join Russia after an all-Crimea referendum scheduled for mid-March. Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko told VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov, “The Federation Council will support the VS ARK decision about the referendum, and this decision will be legitimate”. She emphasised that the decision to hold the referendum is consistent with contemporary international practise, going on to say, “It’d suffice to remember the referendum in Scotland. Besides, the VS ARK chose the most democratic form… a referendum is the final expression of the people’s will”. She called the VS ARK decision historic. The Crimean delegation repeatedly elicited applause during the meeting.

Matviyenko said that it was a symbol that they recognised the courage of her Crimean colleagues, saying, “We admire your fortitude and courage. Many made threats against you; there were threats of attacks, in particular, against the Black Sea Fleet base, but you endured that and protected your people. This applause is for you”. She said that she was confident that there’d never be war between Russia and the Ukraine, noting, “Claims that the people of the Ukraine will wage a war against Russia are absolutely absurd. There’ll never be war between our fraternal peoples”. She repeated that the Kiev junta is unlawful, noting, “They plunged the Ukraine into the chaos of the Orange Revolution. Russia unwaveringly supported a return to constitutional order, to restore the rule of law in the Ukraine”. Matviyenko added that Russian lawmakers are ready to send an observation mission to the all-Crimea referendum so that the voting process and its results “make no one doubt their legality”.



The Unity of the Russian People

Mikhail Khmelko



Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov urged people not to look for “the hand of Moscow” in protest actions in the eastern Ukraine and in the Crimea. In an interview on Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov, shown on Rossiya-24, he said, “What’s happening in the [eastern Ukraine] and the Crimea has nothing to do with the Russian Federation. These aren’t manipulated events, let alone the consequences of actions by Russia. On the contrary, parties called for Russian help, and, as Putin rightly said, Russia can’t ignore this situation. However, these events in the Ukraine have purely domestic sources”.


On Friday, in comments to reporters on events in the Ukraine, PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China opposes threats of sanctions in international relations. Speaking of the VS ARK vote to join the Russian Federation as a federal subject, Qin said, “In the current situation, we hope that the parties would manage to avoid further deterioration and join efforts to search for a political solution. This is the only way out. We urge all parties in the Ukraine to settle issues by peaceful means, to protect the interests of all people in the Ukraine within the framework of law and order through dialogue and consultations”. Qin expressed a hope for a quick restoration of peace and order in the Ukraine.


VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov said that he pledged to do everything possible for the Ukraine to reunite with Russia. He said at a meeting with RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin and leaders of the Gosduma’s factions, “I hope that you’d be able to bring up a new leader in the Ukraine. We talked about it several times. We said that we need a new Bogdan Khmelnitsky (leader of a popular rebellion against Polish rule in the Ukraine that ultimately led to the Ukrainian lands east of the Dnepr rejoining Russia) to emerge and unite these two great states, which can’t exist separately. Yesterday, I received many calls from the eastern regions of Ukraine and from Odessa. People congratulated me. They all said it was great. Sadly, we have big problems, but the Ukraine is part of a united Russian world. After we solve the Crimea’s problem (I’m sure that we’ll solve it), we must exert the maximum effort to protect not only ethnic Russians. In general, we should protect all Ukrainian citizens… both ethnic Russians and Ukrainians… from Nazism and from the Western pressure to impose a foreign ideology. I believe that the present Ukrainian junta will collapse. The junta will face serious tension within the year. Today, instead of trying to unite the Ukraine, it refuses to hear the interests of the southern and eastern Ukraine”.


In an interview on Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov on Rossiya-24, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov called the actions of Western countries towards the Ukraine “a triumph of double standards”. He said, “Overall, what we see now happening in and around the Ukraine is a triumph of lawlessness, a triumph of cynicism, and a triumph of the collapse of international law; it’s a triumph of double standards. Our Western partners recognised the legitimacy of those who now refer to themselves as the leaders of the Ukraine, despite the fact that these people came to power with the support of those who led a coup. They rushed to recognise them as legitimate, they insist on their legitimacy, whilst completely denying the right of anyone else in the Ukraine to take action at their discretion. The west and the east are all people of a united Ukraine, but the leadership denied parts of this people the right to self-determination, the right to a legitimate choice, the right to action to defend their dignity and personal safety. Regretfully, the West ignores this. To our great regret, despite all the attempts by our president, and his readiness to explain the Russian position effectively on a daily basis, we still face a wall of misunderstanding. This is quite sad, and more importantly, it’s very bad from the viewpoint of further possible consequences”.


On Friday, VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov told reporters that the upcoming all-Crimea referendum would restore historical justice and reunite the peninsula with Russia, noting, “We were given away as a gift in 1954 for unclear reasons, like a sack of potatoes, in disregard of the rights of Crimean residents”. He said that people accepted it 50 years ago because it wasn’t a transfer to another country. Konstantinov emphasised, “It came to no good, the gift turned into something given”. In his opinion, the label “separatist” is unfairly stuck to the ARK, saying, “They labelled us as ‘separatists’, no matter what we said, even though we did everything to preserve the country and warned that [the Kiev events] would end badly”. Konstantinov said, that Crimean citizens can restore historical justice and decide “where to live and with whom” at the referendum. Jokingly, Konstantinov said that they had only one condition… “Please… don’t give us away as a gift again”.

7 March 2014

Voice of Russia World Service












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