There is not only the “irony of fate” as the famous 1975 film comedy is called, which is still shown on television in Russia every New Year’s Eve. There is also the irony of the story – and such a thing is happening at the moment, not in the cinema and not as a pleasure game. On the contrary: in a bitter reality.
In February 1945, when Hitler’s surrender was in sight, the three leaders Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt in Yalta on the Crimean peninsula determined in an absolutely autocratic and emphatically self-sufficient manner where the borders in Europe should run in the future. and who should have the political say where. Poland, for example, slammed part of the Soviet Union, but it received a “replacement” at Germany’s expense. Self-determination of the peoples was not an issue.
Nine years later, in 1954, just a few months after Stalin’s death and Nikita Khrushchev’s de facto takeover of the Soviet Union’s leadership as the new leader of the CPSU, Khrushchev himself gave away the then Soviet Republic to the Russian Soviet Republic. Peninsula of Crimea of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Even very self-sufficient: he even skipped the necessary formalities in the Soviet leadership, which ten years later, in 1964, when he was ousted by Leonid Brezhnev, in his “register of sins” under the keyword “Voluntarism” as an example of its self-aggrandiseness.
Khrushchev’s motives for his decision to give Crimea to Ukraine are still being investigated and researched. Most historians suspect an act of gratitude, because Khrushchev was born in Kursk, Russia, in 1894, but made his political career mainly in Ukraine, where his parents emigrated in 1908 to work in the local heavy industry. To find. Others suspect behind his decision a measure to strengthen his political domestic power. His son Sergei Khrushchev, who now lives in the United States, says something else: the transport routes from Moscow to Crimea and other infrastructure all ran over Ukrainian soil. In order to simplify a number of infrastructure projects, it was therefore useful to merge the two areas administratively.
Nikita Khrushchev did not, of course, think that Russia and Ukraine could once fall apart politically in 1954. And the Crimeans could not even dream of self-determination at that time.
Crimea is granted autonomy
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990/91, the population of the former Soviet Republic decided to become independent. However, Crimea was given a politically decisive autonomy within the framework of Ukraine: it received, among other things, its own parliament. This, in turn, has repeatedly led to clashes between the Ukrainian government and the parliament in Kiev on the one hand and the political authorities of Crimea on the other. Kiev has always sought to restrict the autonomy of Crimea; the government and the parliament of Crimea, for their part, have repeatedly tried to break away from Ukraine altogether and become completely independent.
The vast majority of people in Crimea have never felt Ukrainian, despite Khrushchev’s self-imposed decision in 1954, have always voted for Russia-oriented candidates and parties in the Ukrainian elections, and have always voted for Russia-oriented candidates and parties in the Ukrainian elections, and have always voted for Russia-oriented candidates and parties. always identified with Russian culture. With “Kiev” the Krimeer never had anything to do with it. And vice versa: “Kiev” wanted to dominate Crimea, but hardly ever did anything for its economic development. And already under President Viktor Yushchenko (2005-2010) “Kiev” tried to oust the Russian language in Ukraine, even banning it in certain areas, especially Crimea, where, according to official polls and statistics, more than 90 percent of the russian language was banned. Russian has been and will be spoken.
Finally off from Ukraine
At the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, when protests were held in Kiev on the Maidan because the government under (ordinaryly elected) President Viktor Yanukovych did not want to sign the association agreement with the EU, these protests were not in the interests of the people on board. Crimea. And certainly not in the sense of Crimea was the active interference of European and American politicians on the Maidan – think of McCain. There were even people from Crimea who tried to protest on the other side in Kiev, albeit to no avail.
The rest of the story is well known: on the occasion of the Euromaidan, which has raged since November 2013, the expulsion and impeachment of the properly elected and rather Pro-Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and the political U-turn “Kievs” towards the EU and NATO from the parliament in Simferopol and the city council in Sevastopol organized a referendum aimed at the reunification of Crimea with Russia. So, for the first time in history, the people of Crimea should actually be allowed to decide their own fate! The question in this referendum was whether people wanted to return to the autonomy of Crimea, as was granted to Crimea back in 1992, or whether they would rather be reunited with Russia. It did not ask whether the voters wanted to maintain the status quo – a comprehensible omission in view of the unmanageable political turmoil in Kiev with mass demonstrations, shootings, even the use of Molotov cocktails and with over-the-counter a hundred dead. No one is surprised that, in these dramatic days, not everything in Crimea was democratic.
A clear result
The turnout in the referendum of 16 March 2014 was very high despite the postponement of the vote twice (it was 83 percent according to official data), the result more than clear: according to official data, 97 percent voted in favour of reunification with Russia. This was followed by a formal request to Moscow to reunite with Russia, and Russian President Putin, with its hastily established legal bases on the Russian side, ensured that this request was accepted by Russia and that reunification was could be legally implemented on the Russian side.
Unsurprisingly, most Western newspapers – including the NZZ on the front line – spared no effort to cast doubt on the turnout and the result of the referendum in Crimea. Because it cannot be true, which must not be true: who in the paranoid-russophobic West can imagine that one wants to speak Russian, that one feels as Russian, that one identifies with Russia?
But the referendum actually had a flaw. “Kiev”, even in the greatest turbulence, had not given its blessing to this, and on the contrary tried to ban the referendum. The referendum was therefore largely disqualified by the West as illegal under international law. On this point, however, there are different views – and assessments that differ from the Western view of illegality, not only on the Russian side. Jan Schneider, for example, a former employee of the Czech secret service and apparently in close knowledge of all the conflicts between Kiev and Crimea since 1991, says that the Crimean referendum of 16 March 2014 was based on the constitution of Crimea 21 August 1998, signed by then-Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 23 August 1998, was perfectly correct.
Irony of history
Either way, just ten days after the referendum, on 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly voted 100 votes to 193 with 11 votes against and 53 abstentions (some members were not present at all) in favour of a resolution invalidating the referendum in Crimea. With 51.8 percent of the voting states, China with 1.4 billion inhabitants and also India with 1.4 billion inhabitants abstained, the four European miniature states Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino with together, less than 200,000 inhabitants, but four votes were cast – thus enabling a majority to declare the referendum in Crimea illegal under international law.
And – irony of history – just now that the Krimeer finally and for the first time in their history had something to say about their own nationality, it is precisely now that the EU has imposed severe economic sanctions on Crimea. Sanctions that do not, for example, affect Russian President Putin, who is even accused by the Ukrainian side – not least without evidence – of influencing the referendum with armed soldiers. No, economic sanctions that hit the Crimeer, who wanted this vote and who are now finally back to where they feel at home, at home: in Russia.
If two do the same thing …
According to the words of Western politicians and most major Western media, Putin had annexed Crimea illegally because the referendum took place without “Kiev’s consent.” Have the Krimeer, has Putin invented the separation of part from a state and thus the drawing of new borders within Europe? What was it like in 2008, just six years earlier, when Parliament in Pristina separated Kosovo from Serbia without Belgrade’s consent and declared it independent? And the Western world recognized this “independence” of Kosovo by a large majority? At that time, NATO operated in Yugoslavia with massive bombings – using, as we now know, even uranium munitions. “Humanitarian bombing” was called that at the time. Today, twenty years after the wars in the former Yugoslavia and eleven years after the declaration of independence, Kosovo still needs to be kept under control by a special force to prevent new civil wars from taking place. Switzerland alone, which had been at the forefront of this separation of Kosovo from Serbia without Belgrade’s consent, still pays 42 million Swiss francs a year to this special forces force, which in turn is again subordinate to NATO.
But because the population of Crimea wanted to be separated from Ukraine and reunited with Russia, and even held a referendum on it – with more than a clear result, whether a few percent more or less yes votes – the West imposes heavy sanctions. Economic sanctions. Economic sanctions, which primarily affect the population. Neutral Switzerland, not an EU member, is also taking part in these economic sanctions. unfortunately.
A formative experience
The three-week trip to Crimea was very interesting and, despite all the complications caused by sanctions, was more than worth it. I have had dozens of conversations with the people of Crimea tell of the dramatic days in March 2014, and we have seen with our own eyes how crime is now going up and how people believe in a better future again.