This March marks 5 years since the people of Crimea overwhelmingly voted in favour of reunification with the rest of Russia. This event was preceded by a violent Western-sponsored coup d’etat in Ukraine, which removed there the legitimate government and left Ukraine without any constitutional government for several months. De facto Ukraine was ruled by the US/EU-approved Ukro-Nazi mod, which saw as its mission eradication of everything Russian in Ukraine. And Crimea stood high on their list of territories to be depopulated from the Russians.
USA had its own interests in Crimea, having scouted it for its new US-NATO military base. Crimea would have become another Kosovo for the US-NATO, Kosovo, which was split off from Serbia in a savage aggression on Yugoslavia by the US-NATO in March 1999 and lead to the establishment one of the largest US-NATO military bases in Europe – Camp Bondsteel, which Graham Phillips documented in his latest reportage.
And then “The Third Siege of Crimea” – as the locals call it, the longest 25-year-long siege, ended and Crimea reunited with its motherland!
The Crimeans overwhelmingly voted for the reunification, exercising their right under the international law and the UN charter of people’s right to self-determination. It was not the first time the Crimeans voted for the reunification, but this time it worked, while in 1991 the results were ignored and suppressed.
Whatever passed between Russia and Ukraine in 1954, it was not sovereignty over Crimea. The Union States did not have sovereignty over the autonomous bodies within them. The USSR had sovereignty over both of them. According to the Constitution the Supreme Soviet would determine the fate of the autonomies if a state seceded.
USSR Law of Secession: “The people residing in the autonomies are given a right to independently decide whether to remain in the Soviet Union or in the seceding Republic as well as to decide on their state legal status.”
Crimean Referendum Jan. 20, 1991: “Do you support re-establishing the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a subject of the Union SSR and a participant of the Union Treaty?”
— 94.3% yes —
As 2.5 million Crimeans celebrated, the West was gnashing its collective teeth as the loss of a prospective military base for the USA to put their missiles aimed at Moscow. Sanctions followed, trying to punish the Crimeans for their choice. Ukraine, with the Western blessing, blew up the electric power lines as well as left the peninsular without water, leading to a large-scale humanitarian disaster. No-one bombed the Obama regime for organising it, but Russia rather quickly managed to restore both water and power to the peninsular through a dedicated infrastructure bridge.
More sanctions followed from the West. The Russians felts especially betrayed by the Germans – only in 1989 Gorbachev, against the strategic interests of the USSR, and to the hollow NATO promises of “not one inch East of Berlin”, green-lighted the reunification of the German people. And that is how the Germans repaid when the Russian people reunified – by slapping on sanctions.
Time passed, and Russia continued to undo the damage done to Crimea by the 25 years of Ukrainian neglect. They built new infrastructures, built new international airport, built a large mosque for the Crimean Tatars and recognised their language as one of the three official languages in Crimea (something Ukraine promised to do, but never did), they built the miracle of engineering – the Kerch railway and motor bridge, they restored Artec.
Looking back at 2014, when this revival started, I found my copy of Argumenty i Facty from the 18th of March 2014, which I keep as a valuable memento – akin to how our grandfathers would have kept newspapers announcing the end of WWII. Here is the facsimile of its front page.
The editorial on this page reads…
“WE HAVE RETURNED HOME”
Crimea chose Russia over the course of the last weekend – 96.77% of all those who took part in the referendum voted “for”. And let the West shout that this referendum is illegal – nothing can call into question the most, perhaps, honest choice of the people in recent years. “We came home after long hard years of wandering,” – the Crimeans told the “AiF” journalist. They’ve really been waiting for this moment for decades. The most difficult thing was the last 23 years, after the collapse of the USSR. All these years Crimea, which did not return to Russia, did not become Ukraine either. Ukraine, which tried to force millions of Russians in this country to speak and even to think in Ukrainian language. Which, for the sake of nationalists, poured dirt over the sacred — the memory of those who lay down here in the Great Patriotic War, protecting the native land. Which, after Maidan grabbed the power, unambiguously defined the main enemy – Russians – and clearly showed how it will finish off this enemy. And thus they listed almost the entire Crimea as their enemy. And Crimea in response, remembering the right to make a choice, chose to return home. Into Russia.
On the collage image, I would have added yet another date – 1854, when Russia allegedly lost the “Crimean War” after a prolonged British siege of Sevastopol, yet somehow retained control of Crimea. The truth of the matter being – the “Crimean War” was more of a “Crimean Battle” in a much larger context of a war against Russia waged at the time by Britain and France on multiple fronts. And speaking of France, let’s not forget that before 1812 and venturing into Russia, Napoleon designated Crimea as “second Riviera” in his plans for the post-war partitioning of Russia.
It is interesting to note that on page 2 there is an article wondering of the whereabouts of the Malaysian Boeing which vanished off the radars. A few months later another Malaysian Boeing would be shot down by Ukraine over Donbass…
The same AiF edition had an article pondering the future of Crimea. I will translate the article in full below, as it is an interesting retrospective view on what was expected by the population and what was achieved…
Night after the Referendum, the residents of Simferopol poured onto the streets to celebrate, holding now their own – Russian – flags in their hands.
The referendum on the annexation of the peninsula to Russia simply manifested the choice that the majority of Crimeans made in their hearts long before this day. Recently, the residents are more inclined to discuss how to solve the economic issues facing the peninsula,. and not how to vote.
Hryvnias are already called here for roubles and funnily confused; talking about all things Russian as “our’s” or “their’s”. But much more often “our’s” is heard nowadays.
The difficulties of transition
“They say that the roubles will be accepted alongside with the hryvnia. And what about the rate and deposits, especially if they are in Ukrainian banks?”, “Daughter finishes College in Simferopol. They will receive certificates of the Russian variaty?”, “Is it true that the price of gasoline will fall, and fines will rise?»
The choice is made. Residents of Crimea voted for joining Russia
So far, the Crimean authorities do not always have answers to these and many other questions. Most Ukrainian banks have stopped issuing money in offices and ATMs or have sharply limited the amount of money received. Kiev also closed access to the database of registration institutions and notaries: it is impossible to officially conduct transactions or certify documents. Because of the non-working Ukrainian mail, thousands of letters and parcels are “suspended in limbo”. Many Ukrainian suppliers of food and consumer goods refuse to comply with contracts, citing force majeure and problems on the roads. It was officially stated that the cost of passport replacement will be footed by the Crimean budget. But what about the visas affixed in an existing passport? “Not a proble!» – the Crimeans are smiling. – “It’s nothing. The main thing is that we are coming back home!»
“The security was taken over by the people’s militia, united into the municipal police, – the Deputy of the city Council of Sevastopol from the party “Russian block”, Sergey Nikonov told me. – By the way, since the time when self-defence patrols took to the streets, crime, robberies, theft, etc. saw a significant decrease. At the moment Sevastopol is a very quiet city…” In Sevastopol, 95.6% of residents voted for joining Russia on March the 16th, with a 90% turnout; for Crimea in general, 96.77% voted for with a turnout of 83.1% of voters. “Our city is traditionally very apolitical,” Olga, an employee of the territorial election Commission of Yalta, told me. – You can count a rally for a success if you manage to gather 30 people at a square! However, the highest turnout to the referendum pleasantly surprised us. A lot of young people came to the sites. For most people, the issue of reunification with Russia has long been resolved.” (Translator note: I can personally attest to that. When I was in Crimea in 2011, I saw a lot of balconies of residential blocks adorned with Russian flags – as a silent protest against the Ukrainian rule.)
96.7% of residents of Crimea chose Russia. Photo: www.globallookpress.com
Although the referendum was surprisingly calm, residents of the autonomy continue to expect provocations. What scares people the most is a possible arrival to the peninsula of the punisher battalions from Maidan. The self-defence units, together with the road police officers carefully inspect vehicles passing through the checkpoints. They tell about seized weapons and explosives.
“Today we see two main dangers, – Sergey, the head of one of the self-defence groups told “AiF”. – The first is the threat of attack on Crimea from the North, from the isthmus. Our soldiers are daily sent on duty there, with most if them being the veterans of the airborne forces, Marines and other combat-ready units. In Sevastopol alone more than 2,000 people enrolled in self-defence. Additionally, the checkpoints are staffed by the soldiers of “Berkut”, the Cossacks and the Russian volunteer citizens who came to the aid. Patrols are strengthened by armoured personnel carriers and machine-gun detachments. The excavators dug up the entire space of the isthmus, installing at some places wire fences and minefields.
The second danger is related to the possible creation of subversive groups inside the peninsula. There is evidence that recruiting is performed among the Crimean Tatars for the formation of guerilla groups. Residents living in remote villages are being frightened with arrival of Russians, who are allegedly going to deport Crimean Tatars again, take away their homes and property. However, there are many among the Tatars who understand the true state of things. For example, a resident of Bakhchisarai Renat is on duty at our post along with other patrol officers. His mother and sisters have been bringing home-cooked meals for three weeks, enough for dozens of mouths.”
The dialogue of the authorities with the Crimean Tatars gives its results: for example, more than 50% of native Tatar settlements took part in the referendum. Perhaps there would be more people willing to vote if members of the Mejlis (Translator note: terrorist organisation, now banned in Russia – on par with ISIS – after they, in a typical terrorist fashion, blew up the power supplies lines to Crimea in the dead cold of the winter, almost prompting a humanitarian disaster on the peninsular.) did not stand right at the entrance to the polling stations, dissuading compatriots from voting. But still there is an impression that the minority people have already accepted the new future of the peninsula, simply trying to get the maximum compensation from the changed situation. Moreover, Russian and Crimean politicians have already given guarantees to expand the presence of Crimean Tatars in the authorities of the Republic. (Translator note: a promise that was made good on. In addition the Tatar language is now one of the three official languages in Crimea, something the Ukrainian regime promised to the Tatars for over 20 years, but failed to deliver on)
Take your trench-coat!
After the referendum, the number of the Ukrainian servicemen from the stranded Ukrainian military units, who decided to leave the service increased. “Many of my colleagues living on the Peninsula, just went home – said a young Lieutenant, introduced himself as Sergei Galushko. – But my family lives in Western Ukraine. If I go AWOL, my family will call me a traitor. And if I break the oath, the Kiev authorities will begin criminal prosecution and put on the wanted list. However, no adequate orders were issued by the command. One chief calmed us down and promised that after the referendum a corridor for the withdraw of all troops will be created, while another shouted obscenities in a phone, ordering to stand till the last bullet”.
“The Ukrainian military units will be disbanded, – said after the referendum Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea. – Those wanting to take a new oath – this, too, will be taken into the consideration. There will be a normal process of reorganization. Servicemen have the opportunity to get into a normal army, receive a good, decent salary and serve our Motherland.” (Translator note: another promise that Russia made good on. All the servicemen got an option to either return to Ukraine or stay in Crimea as Russian citizens. Only about 2000 chose to return to Ukraine. This is an expected number as mostly locals served in the divisions in Crimea, except for one, which was staffed by NATO contractors, preparing Crimea to become US-NATO military base after the coup.)
«Waiting for the guests»
Already now the thoughts of the Crimean people wander to the upcoming holiday season. Most of the small and medium businesses in Crimea are directly dependent on tourism. According to the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism of Crimea, last year more than 5.7 million visitors visited Crimea. This is several hundred thousand more than in 2012. “At the peak of the season, the population of Sevastopol alone increases from 380 thousand to 1 million, – Alexander Kuznetsov, a representative of the tourism industry of the autonomy told me. – In total, about 2.5 million tourists visit the city during the summer. At least half of them are Russians. In general, Crimea needs serious investments. Over the past 20 years, we have lost almost a third of the beaches that became washed away into the Black sea. Money is needed for their restoration, for the reconstruction of boarding houses and hotels, for the repair of roads. But today we have sufficient capacity to accommodate all the visiting Russians. Hotel owners, owners of the cafés and even taxi drivers have already agreed to make the vacation of the guests as attractive as possible. We hope that people will prefer our resorts to the more expensive beaches of Turkey and Egypt.
I am sure that by summer the issue of railway communication with Russia will be resolved and trains will be able to bypass Ukraine. We hope that a bridge across the Kerch Strait will be built soon. (Translator note: another monumental wish fulfilled in just 5 years!) In addition, we will hold talks with Russian airlines on the introduction of new flights, which will lead to a reduction in the price of tickets. We also appeal to the authorities of the regions of the Russian Federation to expand cooperation on recreation programs for travellers at the expense of the budget. This will allow us to establish strong ties for many years to come.”