Ukraine: Fascist coup or Russian invasion?

Crimean voters will confirm the decision to rejoin Russia in a referendum scheduled for March 16.

Crimea will soon “return home to Russia,” said Nikolai Filippov in the Simferopol Krymskaya Pravda. “Reflecting the sentiments and aspirations of their constituents,” Crimean lawmakers last week voted to rejoin Russia, 60 years after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred the territory to Ukraine. The parliament has now scheduled a referendum for March 16 that will allow the Crimean people to confirm the decision and “start the process of joining Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation.” The choice is an easy one, given that the current authority in Kiev is an unelected government with fascist leanings that deposed the democratically elected leadership two weeks ago. As Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov said in announcing the referendum, Crimeans do not want to “negotiate with the cowardly, illegitimate powers in Kiev and cravenly beg their protection.” The coup was unlawful. The vote next week, though, will be “unambiguous and in accordance with international law.”

The charge of fascism is a red herring, said Dmitry Shusharin in the Kiev Den. The Russian invaders have invented a fantasy that the thousands of pro-democracy protesters who rallied in Kiev’s main square were mostly neo-Nazis. In reality, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin who is following a “Hitler scenario,” ready to send in the troops on a trumped-up pretext of protecting his own ethnic group. He is not treating Ukraine as a sovereign state. Indeed, he has “barely concealed contempt for the institution of the state,” preferring not to govern in a suit and tie but to rule as a bare-chested autocrat. Meanwhile, just as craven Western leaders of the past refused to acknowledge the crimes of Hitler and Stalin—the Ukrainian famine, the Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet gulag—“the current generation of Western leaders” has chosen to ignore Putin’s malevolence.

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