The Kyiv Post, the largest English-language daily in Ukraine, and a source numerous experts pointed me to as one of the most credible voices for what’s going on in the region, reports that the “national referendum” that the Russians are having in Crime in a week offers only two choices: Secede and join Russia now, or Secede and join Russia later.
That’s it. There is no “no” vote. Nowhere to vote to stay a part of Ukraine. The only choices on the ballot are whether to join Russia now or later.
Smells like Soviet spirit.
Kyiv Post’s Katya Gorchinskaya details the choices on the ballot:
Do you support joining Crimea with the Russian Federation as a subject of Russian Federation?
Do you support restoration of 1992 Crimean Constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine?
That Constitution declares that Crimea is an independent state.
In other words, there is no option that says “don’t secede.” The only option on the ballot is “when” to secede.
Considering how often we’re told that the local population in Crimea, at least the ethnic Russian portion, is actually pro-Russia, then why does Putin need to cook the election?
Adding to the fun, there are reports that Russia now has 30,000 troops in Crimea:
Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the border guards’ commander, said there were now 30,000 Russian soldiers in Crimea, compared to 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.
Putin denies that the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed this claim.