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This is going to be a short diary because, sadly, there's not all that much to say.

Various news sources are reporting that the Crimean referendum is not actually going to have much choice to it.  Basically, the voters will be asked to either join Russia immediately or to declare independence/autonomy and negotiate annexation by Russia.  Sort of reminds me of a Monty Python skit.

I initially found it on the website of the Kyiv Post while I was browsing for English-language news websites, but I'm unfamiliar with the source and so, while it may be a perfectly good source, I wasn't comfortable vouching for their reliability or lack thereof, so I didn't diary it (I'm still linking the English-language article because it has the actual text of the referendum, which is of course written in Cyrillic characters, but I know that we do have some Russian speakers here as well as some folks with a Ukrainian background - have at it!).  However, the Canadian Globe and Mail has similar reporting, so I'm confident enough in my information to write a diary.

So be careful when Russian mouthpieces begin pronouncing from upon high that this was the choice of the people.  If you ask a person to pick between "spam" and "more spam" for lunch, it's disingenuous to extoll the popularity of spam when you eventually find someone willing to accept one of those false choices.

Do the Crimean people really want to be part of Russia?  I don't know.  At one time I thought maybe so, until the reporting began about how Russia trucked in some of those "demonstrators."  But this referendum won't answer that question, not as currently constructed and not when conducted under the watchful eyes of the Russian Navy and spetsnaz.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:00:26 PM PDT

  •  I like spam, eggs, sausage and annexation, myself! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, auron renouille, Hey338Too

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:27:44 PM PDT

  •  The key part of the second option is... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deward Hastings, mookins

    autonomous region "within Ukraine" meaning not as a part of Russia. It doesn't seem like a possibility that Crimea would cede local control to Kiev, even if such a question was on the ballot.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:29:10 PM PDT

  •  Lots of scary stuff going on in Crimea right now. (8+ / 0-)

    Houses of Tatars being marked, just like they were before Stalin's genocide crashed down upon them.

    All but Russian television stations have been taken off air.

    Journalists getting kidnapped, threatened, beaten up.

    National chauvinist Russian Cossacks, Neo-Nazis, and biker gangs roaming the streets, intimidating people.

    And that's probably not even close to the half of it.

    Definitely not the type of situation where a free and fair election can be held.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:32:29 PM PDT

    •  "Houses of Tatars being marked" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, mookins

      Do you have a link to this?

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:34:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes: (8+ / 0-)

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:36:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Followed the link (0+ / 0-)

          Shared on Facebook.  Thanks.  Personally I believe neither side in the battle for Ukraine's future has clean hands.

          The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

          by amyzex on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:46:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is some scary stuff :(. (7+ / 0-)

          Even if it's "just" intimidation.

          The video of the Cossack militia/paramilitary whipping the Pussy Riot members in Sochi was deeply unsettling, so if I were an ethnic minority in Crimea, I'd be pretty fearful right now :(.

          "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

          by auron renouille on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:55:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm glad to see (0+ / 0-)

          that they haven't been attacked in their homes yet. Hopefully they won't be and this is just intimidation. As bad as that is it's better than the worst case scenario.

          It seems like the height of idiocy to threaten Tatars if they're the key to the referendum passing. I don't think Russia has any real control over a lot of these groups, if they did they'd be doing a lot better job if this.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:07:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Tatars have stated that they will be (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, fcvaguy, mookins, Hey338Too, debedb

            boycotting the referendum, because they view it as illegitimate.

            The main reason for things not having gotten out of hand in Crimea yet is that Tatars and also the Ukrainian military have been extremely disciplined and peaceful and have not let themselves be provoked into violent action.

            Deutsche Welle had a high quality english language piece on Crimea and Tatars the other day.  It describes an event that is probably spooking the hell out of Tatars:

            The Cossacks are coming

            Earlier this week a detachment of uniformed Cossacks arrived from Russia's Krasnodar region. In a ceremony full of pomp and circumstance, their commander, a Colonel Sergei Savonin Yurievich announced that his unarmed troops had sworn to protect the city's population from unspecified threats.

            "Sevastopolians, we will protect you. We will implement the task of preservation of public order," the colonel said as television cameras focused on his regiment standing at attention. "We are unarmed. We came by ourselves to help with our hands, legs and ears to stabilize the situation in this hero's city called Sevastopol. Citizens join us. It's our city. It's our task."

            http://www.dw.de/...

            "Unarmed obviously doesn't mean leaving their whips behind, as can be seen in the article's photo.

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:19:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  At this point the likelihood (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amyzex, Odysseus

    of any real referendum happening is virtually nil. Crimea is occupied and Russia will almost certainly annex it short of a hot war, which is unlikely.

    All of which seems foolish of Russia, because the pro-EU faction had never outright won an election, and probably wouldn't have if Crimea stayed in the country.

    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

    by AoT on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:32:56 PM PDT

  •  Presence of Russian troops is a real problem. (7+ / 0-)

    No referendum conducted under occupation can be free and fair.

    As for the questions, the first question is: do you want to join Russia? Pretty straightforward.

    The second question is a bit trickier. It asks if the voter wants the Crimea to go back to its 1992 constitution. Under this constitution Crimea was considered 'an independent state within Ukraine'. In theory, it sounds ok. But in practice the current Crimean government will stay in place. And with its new status as an 'independent state' Crimea will no longer be bound by Ukrainian laws. So its government will be able to officially allow Russian troops to stay and can either declare full independence or join Russia.

    Moreover, the voters have to vote 'yes' on one of the choices. If you vote 'no' on both, the vote is invalid.

    •  The "within Ukraine" part of the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, auron renouille, FG

      constitution seems pretty perfunctory. At least the version they want to revert to. I can't imagine the referendum is going to be free and fair, and even if it is then the chances the following elections will be is pretty low.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:55:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The language is pretty much (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, AoT

        Status quo ante.   Crimea is currently "autonomous" and part of Ukraine.   I have no doubt that Russia would be much more active in exploiting the autonomous characteristics if the rest of Ukraine went hard over to the west.

        •  1992 constitution is quite different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          whizdom

          from status quo ante. Crimea right now is autonomous in name only (which is a bad thing imho). 1992 constitution means much broader autonomy. Especially the way it's likely to be interpreted by the current Crimean government.

          http://www.iccrimea.org/...

          •  the point is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG

            it is a legal dog door  for Putin to drive a truck through.

            •  No question about that. (0+ / 0-)
              •  but a middle ground (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG

                from full annexation.

                 Putin wants to get out of this thing as bad as we do.  what can we give him to get him to climb down the tree without showing his ass?  

                I say, extend the Navy base lease, some fluffy constitutional language in Ukraine constitution respecting the eternal excellence and dignity of the Russian language and culture, and a 10 year moratorium for the Ukrainians from joining security pacts with NAto or Russia.

                •  Ukrainian government will be fine with that. (0+ / 0-)

                  They offered smth along these lines already. Putin seems to want more than that though.

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