Three years after sham referendums in Donbas, no Russian Spring

referendums

Left: an independence day rally in Donetsk done in the Soviet style of "pageant on display" includes Russian-backed militants carrying banners calling to seize cities controlled by the Ukrainian government. Right: pensioners queue at a checkpoint with government-controlled areas in Ukraine to collect payments. Sources: social media 

History, Op-ed

Three years ago, on 11 May 2014, illegal “referendums” were held in occupied cities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to create an illusion of all-region wide decision to separate from Ukraine. This farce, organized with Russian support, was held without any legal basis, independent observers, voting booths in places, and electoral register, but with bulletins printed on office printers, armed men at every poll station, and allowance to vote for absent persons. A small fraction of available poll stations was open in several cities in the occupied region (for example, 4 of 216 in then occupied Mariupol), creating the illusion of a huge turnout and support for the geopolitical move. Of course, no Russian officials were formally involved in staging referendums, everything was done by so-called local militia supported by local Ukrainian authorities of occupied cities.

The question was “Do you support the act of state independence of the Donetsk (or Luhansk) people’s republic?”

A day before the referendums, then OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president Ranko Krivokapić said“The idea that free and fair voting could take place in these so-called referendums is absurd. Not only are these referendums completely illegitimate in the eyes of the international community, they would be taking place amid a climate of fear, violence and lawlessness that is sure to keep many away from polling places.”

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The announced result of 89% of voters voting in support of separation in the Donetsk Oblast matched the number requested by Russian politician Aleksandr Barkashov in a tapped conversation that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) published a week before the poll. Luhansk Russia-backed groups didn’t even try to be realistic and announced that 96% of the voters favored the “Luhansk people’s republic.”

Ukrainian officials said, relying on their internal sources and experts present on May 11 in the Donetsk Oblast, that the turnout was in fact much lower than the number of 75% announced by the separatist leaders – 24% in Luhansk Oblast and 32% in Donetsk Oblast, and that in many towns the voting was not held at all.

Read also:  Turchynov: 24% Residents Of Luhansk Oblast and 32% of Donetsk Oblast Voted in So-Called ‘Referendum’

Earlier in April, amid a massive propaganda campaign in Russian media, militants cracked down on dissidents and cleaned up the local information field to not only create the illusion of full support of the Russian aggression in the region but to also influence the worldview of its residents in a way favorable for Russia. In May 2016, many Donetskers and Luhanskers believed the colorful propaganda picture of annexed Crimea on Russian TV, and they believed rumors that fascists from Western Ukraine who failed to get to Crimea are on their way to the Donbas to kill everyone.

Ukrainian banks, delivery services, railways, factories, state post service, and treasury were still functioning and people who believed Russia were optimistic of the future. Nobody of them could believe that the unraveling de-facto occupation would lead to the total destruction of normal life in the region, severe economic and social decay, and transport crisis. Meanwhile, trains leaving Donetsk and Luhansk were already crowded by the first wave of internally displaced persons, the Donbas refugees.

Celebrating an illusion

The so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics celebrate the days of independence on 11 and 12 May, moving the beginning of their histories to the farse referendum in 2014. The occupation authorities are full of optimism about the future of occupied territories, as are the Russian media and so-called information agencies of Donetsk and Luhansk. The information field in the occupied territory remains under Russian and separatist control since 2014 and serves to generate Soviet-style news about great achievements of wise rulers, about treacherous Ukraine and brotherly Russia.

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Read also: Only 18% identifies with Kremlin-backed “DNR” – survey (2016)

Grim reality

No real country recognized Russian puppet statelets in the Donbas since 2014 referendums. Only one of Russia’s post-Soviet puppet states, South Ossetia, recognized both Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics.” In 2008, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia, one of Russia’s frozen conflict zones in Georgia. Now South Ossetia intermediates between Russia and Donbas puppet states to make economy operations between Russian companies and breakaway Ukrainian regions legal in Russia.

Read more: Russia’s involvement in Donbas war open secret in Donetsk – France 24

Most of the factories operating in 2014 are either closed down or cut back on production. Two months ago, occupation authorities seized the last normally operating enterprises which remained under Ukrainian jurisdiction in the occupied territory, most of the grabbed assets are idling as of now, workers are on paid leave.

The economy of the occupied regions fully depends on Russia which sends humanitarian convoys and pays the salaries and pensions of people who live in the occupied territories. The attempts to entice investors and organize tax collection failed. The Russian-backed leaders continue to talk about the unshadowing of the economy while enclaves’ economies remain based on small-scale trading and smuggling.

No real bank operates in the occupied territory. Russian banks didn’t enter the occupied region, occupation authorities opened so-called republics’ banks using the stolen equipment of deserted bank offices. Point-of-sale terminals are widely used for cashing out money but it is next to impossible to open a bank account, transfer or receive money, buy something online.

No Ukrainian and international delivery services remained in the occupied territory. An attempt to send or receive something is kind of a challenge for a resident of occupied areas. So-called Post of LNR and Post of DNR deliver letters and packages only within the occupied territories, you cannot even send a letter to Russia.

There is no passenger transport but busses, marshrutka minibusses, and several suburban trains. Russian-hybrid troops destroyed both passenger airports in the region in 2014-2015. Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian railways) suspended passenger service in the occupied territories in July 2014.

No real employment opportunities are accessible for residents of the Russia-controlled territories. First of all, you can become a militant, it is the most gainful employment possible. If you don’t want to fight against Ukraine, you can become a marketeer or obtain any other unskilled job. The third way is to seek for seasonal employment in Russia.

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There is no normal life in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. And there will be no normal life until Russia leaves the region.

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  • Tony

    Reality willl continue giving Donbass residents a spanking until they understand that:
    1. russian world is a road to nowhere.
    2. Political apathy will get them nowhere, the “im just a small person, its all up to the governments” defence will only allow putin to set their fate as he likes. If they want to live in a European Democracy then they will need to pay for it with their own blood.

    • Yuri Zoria

      Most of Donbas residents are passive and authorities are a separate sacred world for them, they have kind of childred/Soviet/slavish mind. I remember an old man who lived in my neighbourhood in Luhansk, he cursed the Party of Regions yet voted for them every time. “Why?”, I asked and he replied, “And who else?” He didn’t believe that he has a choice and kept voting for criminals he hated.

    • Rafael Hernandez

      1: As you see with this picture, EP chooses carefully which pictures it should have. The actual fact is that Lugansk and Donetsk are blossoming 2: Why should it? The lifestandars in DNR and LNR are higher now than in Ukraine
      Ukraine life expectancy 2017, 69.8 years Russia life expectancy 2017 72,1 years

      • zorbatheturk

        RuSSians are brain dead.

        • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

          And how is the state of your most invaluable self today, me old crackpot ?

          • Alex George

            Wow, you really know how to prove his point, don’t you?

            Still, its good that you are here – your repeated failure to provide any facts or reasoning in support of your fuehrer Putin just demonstrates that we are right.

            There is no future in Russia. The incompetent Putin is driving it into the ground, and now its break up is approaching.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Have you said something, mentally deranged troll ?

          • Alex George

            Yes, as a matter of fact I did.

            I said that you really know how to prove Zorba’s point.

            I also said that it is good that you are here, as your repeated failure to provide any facts or reasoning in support of your fuehrer Putin just demonstrates that we are right.

            There is no future in Russia. The incompetent Putin is driving it into the ground, and now its break up is approaching.

          • zorbatheturk

            Bogov, Putinoid.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Do try to have a nice day, silly old horror.

          • zorbatheturk

            Eat a raw porcupine, maggot.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            You do that, silly old bugger.

          • zorbatheturk

            Slurp a cactus shake.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            LOL
            You would love that, wouldn’t you :) :)

          • zorbatheturk

            Tickle a scorpion, Putin assboy.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Stop playing with your b. side, Porosyonko’s sad old clown.

      • Ihor Dawydiak

        And do you Rafochko also believe that your native Venezuela is a living paradise? Is that why you emigrated along with your Russian wife to the USA or are the both of you nothing more than Kremlin financed windbags?

      • Kruton

        #commie nutjob

        • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

          you certainly are.

          • Alex George

            Why? Because he tells the truth about Russia and the territory of Donbass that it tried to steal?

            Russia cannot administer any of the territories it has stolen, including Crimea and Donbass. Electricity, water, all fail. There is no economy there.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Your head is still missing, mentally deranged troll.

          • Andrew Chmile

            “Alex George” is a Ruski ***MOLE*** stupid! :)

            One of “your kind”. :)))

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            You can’t help being a “one of a kind” brain damaged durak, drew ..
            Your papa obviously gave up on you and allows you to do whatever you like ..
            There used to be one item just like you at the London Zoo which is about 15 minutes walk from my London residence but it died about ten years ago.
            Would you like me to have a word with the management – I am sure they will be more than happy to offer you free board and lodgings in exchange for your great many talents of imitating various insects, rodents and highly toxic reptiles ..
            All other creepy crawlies and highly toxic reptiles who fume around this site incessantly can come and visit you any time they like ..

          • Andrew Chmile

            go pretend to be da Anlisha — you da Ian Rutherford! :))))

            Pederast! :)))

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            You are high on gorilka again, drew.

            Being the best possible advert for Euromaidan Press comes naturally to you ..

          • Andrew Chmile

            “You are high on gorilka again, drew.”

            Try **HORILKA** you nasty *monhol*!

            Getting bored, being so “clever” — the way you monhols
            ALWAYS “think” you are? 😉

            RUSKI KRETIN!

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            more salo, gorilka damaged “UKRAINSKI” hero ?

          • Andrew Chmile

            more “PUTIN” for Finno-Ugrics who pretend to be white & Slavic — eh monhol? :)

            you DISGUSTING ruski sh*ts!!!!

            Gay in Putin’s Moscow: why the city is pinker than you think | Cities | The Guardian

            http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jun/13/gay-putin-moscow-life-nightlife-clubbing-law-lgbt

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Your brain is gone completely, drew ..

          • Andrew Chmile

            it’s Chmilewsky to you! — “Ian Rutherford” — mit der BAT Ruski Anglish! :))))

          • Alex George

            LMAO Now holding a conversation with yourself, Andrew? You have always run multiple accounts.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Alex George LYINGLY & STUPIDLY SPAT:
            “LMAO Now holding a conversation with yourself, Andrew? You have always run multiple accounts.”

            No you POS! :)

            You just FLAP your AT TIMES dirty “bat Anglish mout” — monhol faqqot! :)))

            The amount of accounts you scum use — always amazed me!

            I do not — as you DO know — don’t have to bother! :)

            Wanna tell Ukes AGAIN, we shouldn’t use Ukr & to use English more? :)
            To (somehow??!?!?!?!) “help the Ukr. language” — that way ?!?!?!?!

            MORON!!! :)

            And for us — NOT to “ban” Ruski “because it wouldn’t work”

            (BANNING worked on Ukr. in Kuban, Belhorod, Kursk, etc.. etc.. RIGHT YOU LYING STUPID POS RUSKI MORON? :)

            & you also “say” :) Ruski would get mad? :)

            OH MY!!!
            — SO FK ‘EM!! & so what! — They are making WAR already — STUPID!!)

            Hmmm….
            You wrote EXACTLY like that *STUPID* Ruska ‘HO from the Monhol For. Ministry claimed! :))

            Most curious…. what a “coincidence” eh you Ruski SCUMBAG? :))))

            https://twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/847372231483183104

          • Alex George

            LMAO Andrew the Putin troll gets angry shouting at the monitor and pounding the keyboard.

            Grow up you silly old man. ;o)

            You are just angry because I have told the truth about you: You are a Putin troll who has rightly been thrown out of most Ukrainian blogs.

          • Andrew Chmile

            You COULD NOT ANSWER THE BELOW — COULD YOU NOW??? :)

            Stupid **LYING** Ruski ***MOLE** :)
            So I shall REPEAT IT for YOU & others :)

            WTF you WROTE WAS EXACTLY THE SAME RUSKI BS THAT THAT LYING RUSKI PIG FROM THE RUSKI FOREIGN MINISTRY WROTE! :)))))

            Get the POINT? 😉

            —————————–
            Alex George LYINGLY & STUPIDLY SPAT:
            “LMAO Now holding a conversation with yourself, Andrew? You have always run multiple accounts.”

            No you POS! :)

            You just FLAP your AT TIMES dirty “bat Anglish mout” — monhol faqqot! :)))

            The amount of accounts you scum use — always amazed me!

            I do not — as you DO know — don’t have to bother! :)

            Wanna tell Ukes AGAIN, we shouldn’t use Ukr & to use English more? :)
            To (somehow??!?!?!?!) “help the Ukr. language” — that way ?!?!?!?!

            MORON!!! :)

            And for us — NOT to “ban” Ruski “because it wouldn’t work”

            (BANNING worked on Ukr. in Kuban, Belhorod, Kursk, etc.. etc.. RIGHT YOU LYING STUPID POS RUSKI MORON? :)

            & you also “say” :) Ruski would get mad? :)

            OH MY!!!
            — SO FK ‘EM!! & so what! — They are making WAR already — STUPID!!)

            Hmmm….
            You wrote EXACTLY like that *STUPID* Ruska ‘HO from the Monhol For. Ministry claimed! :))

            Most curious…. what a “coincidence” eh you Ruski SCUMBAG? :))))

            You AND THE *OTHER* RUSKI just wanna “help” — eh? :)
            KRETIN!!! :)))

            Learna da Anglish —- let US UKES deal with UKRAINIAN — NOT YOUR PLACE!!! — SCUMBAG!!

            https://twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/847372231483183104

          • Alex George

            I have answered everything you have written – that is acutally written in English.

            Grow up you silly old man. ;o)

            You are just angry because I have told the truth about you: You are a Putin troll who has rightly been thrown out of most Ukrainian blogs.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Why you silly *LYING* old communist & “Anglish” language major! :)

            You STILL haven’t answered WHILE at the VERY SAME TIME pretending you have! :)))
            Lying faqqot! :)
            Most “clever” a Russo-mongolian you are indeed! :)

            Surely you have “fooled” every one here with your most skilled monhol cunning!
            NOT! :)))

            Still wanna tell us NOT to enact & *RESTORE* the Ukr. Language Laws because “Ruski will get mad!” —- Oh my! :( Think they might invade Ukraine or something?!

            Your SCUMBAG For, Minister has the same “advice” to “help” Ukraine:

            https://twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/847372231483183104/photo/1

          • Alex George

            I am not an English language major . I don’t need to be – I grew up speaking the language. ;o)

            And yes, I have answered every point you have made. And you clearly do not have the faintest idea what I have said in the past. Time for you to go to bed little boy.

          • Andrew Chmile

            “I am not an English language major . I don’t need to be – I grew up speaking the language. ;o)”

            I can tell! :)

          • Alex George

            Of course you can – because my English is perfect, and yours is poor.

          • Andrew Chmile

            YOU ROTE:

            “I am not an English language major . I don’t need to be – I grew up speaking the language. ;o)And yes, I have answered every point you have made. And you clearly do not
            have the faintest idea what I have said in the past. ”

            https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/19/a8/1f/19a81f607091181438ad963b7b7914b9.jpg

          • Alex George

            Yes, I know that’s what I wrote (note the spelling, you uneducated old troll).

            Here it is again, just in case you missed it:

            I am not an English language major . I don’t need to be – I grew up speaking the language. ;o)

            And yes, I have answered every point you have made. And you clearly do not have the faintest idea what I have said in the past. Time for you to go to bed little boy.

          • Andrew Chmile

            You are OBVIOUSLY an old COMMUNIST besides a ***LYING*** anti-Ukr. **MOLE** :))

            See below — REPEATED — you CAN’T reply to it for YOU ARE WEAK & STUPID LIKE A RUSSO-MONGOLIAN PAID BY THE MONHOL KHAN — PUTIN. :)))

            Faqqot! :))

          • Alex George

            Ha ha, exactly Andrew – you are so old and senile that you think posting the same thing multiple times will help to convince anyone!

            Grow up you silly old man. ;o)

            You are just angry because I have told the truth about you: You are a Putin troll who has rightly been thrown out of most Ukrainian blogs.

          • Andrew Chmile

            You just posted the same thing you *lying* old Russo-mongolian communist & HYPOCRITE! :)

            You STILL wanna claim I am not Ukr. & I don’t know or speak Ukie & that I “claimed to live in Ukraine” ? :)))

            Do you have those posts? :)
            Do * I * — unlike *YOU* — HIDE MY POSTING PROFILE? 😉

            Ruski LYING COWARD! :)))

            http://img.picturequotes.com/2/2/1244/a-liar-should-have-a-good-memory-quote-1.jpg

          • Alex George

            “You STILL wanna claim I am not Ukr. & I don’t know or speak Ukie & that I “claimed to live in Ukraine” ?”

            Of course, since it is true. You have repeatedly (and falsely) claimed to be Ukrainian, to speak the language, and to live there.

          • Alex George

            So in other words, you can say nothing in reply.

            Thanks for agreeing with me. Russia cannot administer any of the territories it has stolen, including Crimea and Donbass. It fails to provide even basic services like electricity, water and heating.

            And as for hte economy, it is just non-existent. Occupied Donbass and Crimea are no more than bandit territories under Putin. Once they return to Ukraine, then the good times will happen for them.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            In other words – you are still a mentally deranged troll.

          • Alex George

            So in other words, you can say nothing in reply.

            Thanks for agreeing with me. Russia cannot administer any of the territories it has stolen, including Crimea and Donbass. It fails to provide even basic services like electricity, water and heating.

            And as for the economy, it is just non-existent. Occupied Donbass and Crimea are no more than bandit territories under Putin. Once they return to Ukraine, then the good times will happen for them.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            And your head is still missing, mentally deranged troll.

          • Alex George

            LOL Silly old senile troll didn’t even realise he had posted the same thing twice!

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            :) Silly old senile Alex George didn’t even realise he had laughed at himself so many times.

          • Alex George

            Not at all. After all, I am not the silly old man who posted the same thing twice… ;o)

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Correct, you are a silly old man who lost count of how many times he posted the same thing twice… ;o)

          • Alex George

            Not at all. You are a silly old man who posted the same thing twice, and is then afraid to admit it. After all, its better than admitting that your dear fuehrer Putin is a pedophile. ;o)

            Or that Russia cannot administer any of the territories it has stolen, including Crimea and Donbass. It fails to provide even basic services like electricity, water and heating.

            Or that the economy in occupied Donbass and Crimea is virtually non-existent. These are no more than bandit territories under Putin. But once they return to Ukraine, that is when the good times will happen for them.

      • Quartermaster

        The so called people’s republics are at a dead end. No, they are not blossoming, and they never will. There never will be a “Russian Spring.”

      • Murf

        Good news then!
        So let’s see some stats.
        How is the unemployment?
        What’s the exchange rate on their currency?
        What’s the projected GDP growth for 2017?
        What’s the balance of trade?
        The number it tourist so far this season?
        Don’t just talk about big things; prove it!

      • Alex George

        Where did you get your figures from – out of your backside? Russian life expectancy is much lower and getting worse.

        And you don’t cite a single figure or fact to contradict what the article says – there is no economy in occupied Donbass and life for the inhabitants there is hell.

        • Rafael Hernandez

          Where do you get your sources from?

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Rosstat, among others. Rosstat, in case you don’t know, is Dwarfstan’s official governmental statistical agency.

          • Rafael Hernandez

            Total utter BS

          • Alex George

            LOL You are so pathetic! Not even an attempt to justify. You just made your figures up, and then as soon as educated and intelligent people challenge you, you have nothing to say.

            Once again, we see the third-world Russian school system in operation….

          • Andrew Chmile

            Rafael Hernandez
            TO
            Alex George

            “Where do you get your sources from?”

            “Alex George” just FLAPS his LYING, IGNORANT, Ruski ***MOLE*** mouth — like you do! :))))

            Both of you are monhols :)))

          • Alex George

            LMAO Andrew the Putin troll appears yet again…

            Other people bring facts and rational argument to refute the Putin trolls, but not Andrew. His aim is to attack supporters of Ukraine wherever he can, in order to get them fighting each other.

            That is why he has been booted from many pro-Ukrainian blogs, once they work out his real game.

          • Alex George

            So far I haven’t cited any, but the article has.

            You came out with a figure that is utter BS, and I challenged you to justify it.

            Your attempt to deflect shows that you can’t justify it, and you know that.

  • veth

    China will import gas from USA. TRUMP DID ACCIDENTALLY A GOOD DEAL.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      In 2014 the demented dwarf was boasting about his Great Chinese Gas Deal, but three years later it STILL hasn’t been finalised. Peking knows that the dwarf is desperate and is ruthlessly exploiting its advantage to squeeze every last concession out of him. The dwarf can consider himself lucky if he breaks even should the deal eventually be finalised, but it’s more likely that he will suffer a loss.

  • zorbatheturk

    Under Putin it is always winter.