Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Russian lawmakers issue statement on situation in Crimea

Russian lawmakers have issued a statement on the situation in the Republic of Crimea. The document, submitted on Monday by the leaders of all four parliament factions and house speaker Sergei Naryshkin, was supported by 441 legislators, with one abstention.

"Welcoming the expression of will by the Crimean people at the March 16 referendum on accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Russia, the State Duma proceeds from the standpoint that the government bodies operating on the territory of Crimea will be maintaining inter-faith accord and language diversity of the republic," the document said.

Russian lawmakers assured that they would contribute to the socio-economic development of Crimea and the welfare of its population during the transition period. "The State Duma will contribute to ensuring the safety of all people staying in Crimea, regardless of their citizenship, nationality, language or religion, and to observing their legitimate rights and freedoms," according to the document.

Two questions were put up for the Crimean referendum on March 16: Do you support accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation? and Do you support restoration of 1992 Crimean Constitution and Crimea's status as a part of Ukraine?

Head of the referendum commission of Crimea's Supreme Council Mikhail Malyshev said 96.77% of people who had taken part in the plebiscite voted for joining Russia. The turnout stood at 83.1%.

On Monday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the Republic of Crimea as a sovereign and independent state.
News | 18.03.2014 | 14:03

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs "Recognition of the Crimea referendum results would meet the interests of Ukraine"

Crimea Referendum Results at First Glance

Nikolai MALISHEVSKI | 18.03.2014 | 09:30

According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs official statement, the recognition of the Crimea referendum results would meet the interests of Ukraine and its people. Left-wing MPs in Germany call on the West to accept the results of Crimea referendum. Sahra Wagenknecht, deputy chairperson of the Left party, said that there are realities that should be taken as an accomplished fact. She called for accounts belonging to Ukraine’s oligarchs to be frozen. Even before the referendum Wagenknecht accused the German government of having a «deeply hypocritical foreign policy» and rejected plans by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lend Ukraine billions of euros. 
Gregor Gysi, a parliamentary head of the largest lower-house opposition party in Germany – the Left Party – has spoken out against German Chancellor’s unquestioning support of the coup-appointed Ukrainian government. He said, «The EU and the German government accepted that the overthrow of President Yanukovich was a coup against the Constitution… but now they base their criticism of Putin’s actions in the Crimea on that very broken Constitution. Just when does this Constitution apply?» 
The observers from France and Poland said there were no violations and the procedures corresponded to international norms. 
Emerique Chopard (France), a French geopolitical analyst, visited the polling stations in Simferopol and Sebastopol. He said the referendum was democratic and the voters expressed their will, the atmosphere was calm and turnout was high as the overwhelming majority supported the reunification with Russia. 
 Polish MP Mateusz Piskorsky, who headed the Polish group of observers, said, that «everything was quiet, peaceful and up to major international standards»… 
 The majority of Western media outlets have done their best to ignore the statements, the same way they have done it with the survey published by Le Figaro for the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP). The predominant majority of French (71%) and Germans (57%) don’t want to see Ukraine as a member of the European Union. At that, great attention is paid to statements by politicians and diplomats similar to the one made by Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and his compatriots who remembered that Poland was the first European state to recognize the independence of Ukraine in 1991. Looks like the European establishment gives Poland a carte-blanche as newsmaker guiding the EU eastern policy without taking into consideration the opinion of its own citizens. 
 Eastern Europe is very responsive to such things. Polish Gazeta Wyborcza and Czech weekly Respekt (the front page of the last edition offers a map with the word cholera written on the territory of Russia) wrote that Radoslaw Sikorski is the new leader of Europe who is going to change the European politics and history. The interviews Sikorski gave to BBC and CNN are widely reprinted and highlighted. The head of Polish diplomacy admitted that the Crimea referendum is «an accomplished fact» but he found it proper to threaten Russia saying that Russians are going to pay dearly for Crimea.«We are all reluctant to impose sanctions because Russia will probably respond and we'll all suffer as a result. But Russia is leaving us no choice»,Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has told CNN. 
The authors of Polish outlets are serious when they say that the events in Ukraine make Poland a growing European power, the fact confirmed by the intensification of its foreign policy efforts. 
 Polish media reporting on the referendum results is rather tedious making by and large the same conclusion concerning the gist of the matter. For instance, central Rzeczpospolita writes that Russia has taken measures to counter possible Western sanctions (1). It adds that Crimea is lost for Ukraine for many years ahead if not forever because the «supporters of secession won the referendum». 
Journalist Jagienka Wilczak is an editor for the weekly Polityka, where she is in charge of the social issues section and is an expert of Eastern Europe and military conflicts. According to her, «the referendum results the Kosovo precedent acquires new relevance. If the majority wants independence it must get it».
(1) It literally said that the US treasures held by central banks reached the peak of demand in the period between March 5 - 12, and the Bank of Russia, the $138, 6 billion US security bonds holder, is the chief suspect: the sales have already reached the level of $104 billion.

Crimea's vote: Was it legal?

 U.S., Europe impose travel bans and freeze assets of Russian, Crimean officials

 Author: By Halimah Abdullah 

CNN Published: Mar 17 2014 02:29:42 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 18 2014 01:32:35 AM EDT Print Email CNN (CNN) 

- Depending on who you ask, Crimea's decision to secede from Ukraine was either an unconstitutional split manipulated by Russia or a move consistent with international law upholding the region's right to govern itself. The United States and its European allies say Sunday's referendum vote violated Ukraine's newly reforged constitution and amounts to a thinly veiled attempt by Russia to expand its borders to the Black Sea peninsula under a threat of force. Moscow asserts Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in an illegal coup, which ended Ukraine's constitutional authority. Russian President Vladimir Putin argues Crimeans should have the right to decide how they want to be governed going forward. Quick Clicks MEDIA GALLERIES What to know: Crimea referendum Crisis in Ukraine: What you need to know A look inside Ukraine's presidential palace STORIES US moves fast on possible sanctions Diplomacy on Ukraine is short on specifics What's going on in Ukraine? New day, new questions for Ukraine Who's who in Ukraine unrest Symbol of Ukraine uprising emerges from tweet VIDEOS Crimea holds referendum on joining Russia Were there warning signs in Crimea? Crimean families divided over referendum Russia backs Crimea vote, dismisses sanctions Obama pushes for diplomatic Ukraine resolution Kerry: 'We should not threaten Ukraine’s political independence' Ukranian, Russian troops face off Kerry lays flowers at Kiev memorial Madeleine Albright calls Putin 'delusional' Warning shots fired at Ukrainian base Ukraine's leaders accuse Russia of declaring war Pro-Russian forces gain momentum in Crimea Putin defies US on Ukraine Obama warns Russia on Ukraine Putin faces dilemma over Ukraine Ukrainians explore opulent presidential palace Ukraine president says he's not stepping down Ukraine medic who tweeted 'I'm dying' speaks See Kiev before, after Obama's influence tested on world stage 'I am Ukrainian' video goes viral So who's right? "The answer depends on what your perspective is," said David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy magazine. "The U.S. is buying into the argument of the Ukraine government, which is that the secession of Crimea from Ukraine is not constitutional under the terms of the Ukrainian constitution," Rothkopf said. "The alternative argument is that all peoples have a right of self-determination and that if the people of Crimea choose not to be part of Ukraine, that is their prerogative in the same way that it was the choice of colonial powers to break away from the imperial powers that claimed them or parts of the former Yugoslavia were free to head off on their own," he added. The standoff between the United States and Russia resembles tension from the Cold War era. "We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world," President Barack Obama said on Monday. "The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity; and continued Russia military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russia economy," Obama said. The United States and Europe imposed travel bans and froze assets of senior Russian and Crimean officials. The Obama administration went a step further by banning entry and freezing all U.S. assets held by any Russian government official or people with close financial ties to 11 people, including advisers to Putin. Separate from the vote, Crimean lawmakers approved a resolution on Monday that declared the Black Sea peninsula an independent, sovereign state and requested to join the Russian Federation. Putin later in the day signed a decree that recognized Crimea's independence, the Kremlin said. He will address a joint session of Parliament on Crimea on Tuesday. Putin spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently by phone and stressed the Crimean referendum was in accordance with international law, including Article 1 of the U.N. Charter regarding the principle of self-determination. "It was emphasized that Russia will respect the choice of the Crimean people," according to a Kremlin statement summarizing that conversation. Obama told Putin during a phone call on Sunday that "Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to the White House. Putin pushed back, according to a statement from the Kremlin, and said the situation in Crimea is akin to Kosovo's breakaway from Serbia in 2008. "Regarding the March 16 referendum in Crimea, Mr Putin said that the decision to hold the referendum was in line with international law and the U.N. Charter, and was also in line with the precedent set by Kosovo," the Kremlin said. "The referendum was organized in such a way as to guarantee Crimea's population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination," it said. Even within Crimea's pro-Russia majority, opinions about the legality of seceding are split. Voters proudly proclaimed their support for rejoining Russia as they stood in line in dreary weather to vote. However, one, who was too afraid to speak to CNN on camera, proclaimed the referendum illegal. The ethnic Tatars and younger voters have also questioned the legality of secession. Many of the Tatar minority boycotted the referendum with some leaders calling it "a farce" forced by armed men. As the United States and Russia attempt to hash out their differences, pressure mounts for Putin to move quickly and carefully in resolving the Crimean crisis, Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute told CNN International. "He basically has two choices. Choice Number One would be to move fairly quickly to annex Crimea and that is going to then seem as a very naked land grab and will make it very difficult then for a dialogue to move forward," Pifer said.