Elections in Ukraine and Novorossiya Amidst Civil War
Ukraine and Novorossiya both recently held elections. The elections in Ukraine were widely hailed as a triumph of "European Values" in the West with predictable moral bankruptcy. Meanwhile the later elections in Novorossiya (the region of south Eastern Ukraine battling for independence from Ukraine) were condemned in typical Orwellian fashion as undemocratic. Following the Elections the war seemed ready to heat up and there were hopeful signs the Minsk Protocol may be dying. The Ukrainians stepped up their attacks on Novovorossiya while Russia increased it's aid resulting in yet another brief Russia invaded Ukraine scare.
First I'll discuss the elections in Ukraine for the Verkohvna Rada as Ukraine's Parliament is called. I discussed my views on representative democracy and Ukraine in my previous article last may "Democracy" in Ukraine. There I compared the actual Democracy in Athens (although one that disenfranchised much of the populace) with the phony democracy that is practiced in our modern world under that title. In Athens those allowed to vote were allowed to decide important issues while in modern democracy we are allowed to pick between candidates bought in advance by the Oligarchy and who differ little on economics or foreign policy except that one of them is invariably worse. Thus our only choice is to either choose between the lesser of two evils or not to vote at all out of disgust for the whole process. Thus even the supposedly democratic countries of the US and western Europe are really nothing more then oligarchies despite all their rhetoric about freedom and democracy which are often used to "rebrand" Conquest and Exploitation. However they consider themselves as the birthplace and arbiters of democracy. They alone have the right to declare a society democratic of undemocratic and elections legitimate or illegitimate. Unsurprisingly they exercise this right completely arbitrarily. Countries conducting experiments in direct democracy where the people themselves are allowed to directly make decisions such as Greece, Libya, and Venezuela have been labeled as undemocratic and overt and covert wars. The Greek Revolution was put down by the British and The US killing thousands and Greece became a puppet sham democracy and when that wasn't enough Became a military junta that waged another dirty war on it's own people. Libya was bombed by NATO and invaded by proxy Army reduced to a chaotic mess. Now Venezuela with it's heroic attempts at establishing a direct democracy is also labeled undemocratic and targeted with economic and covert war. Meanwhile a wide array of dictators have been labeled as defenders of democracy to give just two examples Augusto Pinochet in Chile in the 70's and Paul Kagame in Rwanda today were praised in the media and by western governments as defenders of democracy despite being brutal dictators who seized power through violence. I picked them to demonstrate my earlier remark that democracy is frequently mereley a code for conquest and Exploitation (Remember Iraq?) Kagame is praised as democratic because he is helping to loot the Congo by means of a brutal invasion that has cost 10 million lives and has dragged on for nearly two decades but which provides cheap raw materials for multinational corporations. Pinochet was hailed as a defender of democracy because he destroyed democracy in Chile in order to reverse the reforms of the democratically elected Salvador Allende. For 70 more examples see "Killing Hope" by William Blum.
Unsurprisingly the elections in Ukraine were praised as yet another triumph of democracy. This was done by completely ignoring the actual situation in Ukraine. Eric Draitser wrote a brilliant analysis of it recently that exposed exactly why they were both a sham and a scandal. First Ukraine has already banned two of the parties in Ukraine that were among the most popular prior to the coup that Overthrew the democratically elected president Yanukovych. Both Party of Regions and the Communist Party have been defacto banned. There are no candidates that support the interests of south Eastern Ukraine. Instead they can choose between pro-Western Oligarchs like Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk and Outright Fascists like Svoboda or Right Sector. Perhaps back at the beginning of the crisis before the war Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk could masquerade as moderates. After waging war on south Eastern Ukraine for 6 months they can no longer maintain that facade. They are violent extremists in their own right and have made all sorts of insane public statements in an attempt to compete for votes with the Fascists. They have also allowed the Fascists to run wild in the country committing all manner of atrocities most famously the Odessa Massacre. Thus I could only laugh at certain commentators who claimed that the victory of Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk somehow proved that Ukraine was not Fascist. True other European parliaments may have fascists serving in them but they do not grant total impunity for Fascist para-military groups to terrorize the populace. Thus even if there were not a single fascist serving in parliament so long as Neo-Nazi National guard units are waging war on novorossiya and bands of Neo-Nazi Hooligans are allowed to run wild in the rest of the country Ukraine will remain a fascist country.
Of course despite claims that the election were a showcase of European values far from a reduction in influence the Fascists only increased their support. Thus while the parties of the war mongering oligarchs Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk received about 21 percent each for a combined total of 42% the Fascist Svoboda, Radical Parties, and Right Sector received a combined total of around 21% with both Svoboda and radical parties receiving around 8-10% each. Eric Draitser gives a brief description of 3 of the winners. The infamous Dmitry Yarosh who even before the war began was a wanted war criminal for his role fighting alongside Chechen terrorists. There he grew infamous for the grisly manner in which he would torture and then murder Russian POW's. Since the war began his right sector thugs have been involved in all manner of rape murder and torture. Most infamous was the Odessa Massacre. No doubt he wants a seat in parliament merely so as to remain immune from both the crimes he's committed and the one's he's planning to commit in future. A fitting reward for his Alliance with the Gangster Oligarch Kolmoisky. Then there is Oleh Lyashko hollywood has long long fantasized about the possibility of murderous Reality TV shows (for example the cult classic 70's Death Race 2000 or the Cheesy Running Man in the 80's and Hunger Games today) Lyashko has made these dreams a reality having himself filmed kidnapping and torturing political opponents many of whom are never seen again. His Party received between 8-10%. Then there is Nazi Apologist mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi. He runs tours glorifying Ukraine's "glorious" nazi past and is head of the Fascist Samopomich party. These are just 3 examples of the the rogues gallery of Fascists who now sit in Ukraine's Parliament.
Not surprisingly given the choice between war mongering Oligarchs and War mongering Fascists many Ukrainians choose simply not to vote. The patterns of voting were quite revealing. In the west where fascist sympathies are high such as Lviv there was High voter turnout in Lviv 85% for example. Turnout steadily decreased in the center and in the South Eastern parts was very low. Odessa for example only had 15% voter turnout. With Numbers that low it is clear that in many parts of Ukraine still controlled by Kiev people secretly hope to be liberated by the NAF. Actually there were a number of amusing pictures of ballots with Votes for various Novorossiyan commanders circulating on twitter the next day.
Overall the Election in Ukraine signaled that the country will move in an increasingly Insane direction. Despite the disastrous war many still support Both the Oligarchs and the Fascists who are responsible. In the disenfranchised south East we can expect increasing attempts to fight back and actually there were reports from both sides about this. The Kiev Regime bragged about busting a weapons cache in Mauripol while in Kharkov the NAF claimed it was training a reconnaissance group to wreak sabotage behind enemy lines.
The Novorossiyan elections were held in response to the endless attacks by the Ukrainian forces during the ceasefire. The elections were thus moved up from the Minsk agreed upon date in December. They were predictably declared undemocratic and Illegitimate in both Kiev and West. Admittedly with the war going on the election's weren't exactly perfect. Neither candidate faced a strong opposition. Instead the winners were both the Incumbents who took power a couple months back when their predecessors were forced to resign. In the Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko was elected Prime Minister with 85% of the vote. In Lugansk Igor Plotinsky was elected with 63% of the vote. Instead of a contest between candidates the election should be seen as a referendum on the current war for independence. People in Novorossiya Voted because they wished to give Legitimacy to their own independent governments. Unfortunately of course so far no country will recognize the legitimacy of the elections there is too little to gain and too much to loose by doing so. Even Russia claimed that it "respected" the elections rather then "Recognizing" them. However for Ordinary Novorossiyans this was the peaceful way of expressing support for independence. There were long lines and high voter turnout.
Actually in my last Article I vented my frustration on Zhakarchenko for his role in signing the Minsk Protocol and for his arresting NAF members who strongly opposed the Minsk Protocol I was a bit unfair in that he was basically forced to sign it by his Russian patrons. However I still strongly disapprove of his actions in attempting to suppress the more radical elements in the NAF. Still now that he is the elected Prime Minister of Donetsk I've had to change my views somewhat. Thankfully since I last wrote the Russian position has changed and this has been reflected by a change in Zhakerchenko who basically declared the Minsk Protocol is dead and even went so far to boast that he planned to expand into new territory. Recently Igor Strelkov released an urgent warning of an impending Ukrainian attack on Novorossiya and Russia responded by stepping up it's covert aid.
Everyone is expecting at least one more major offensive soon. The intensity of the fighting has already increased somewhat but the decisive battle has yet to begin. Strelkov predicted that they would launch a major offensive aimed at completely crushing Novorossiya. It is unclear wether it has been merely put on hold due to the Russian aid or wether it has been canceled. However in response to the elections Poroshenko announced that he was canceling plans for the special status for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions agreed to in the Minsk Protocol yet another sign that the Minsk protocol may be dying. In addition the shelling of Donetsk has increased recently for example a school was targeted and two students were killed.
In the end the fates of Ukraine and Novorossiya will be decided not at the ballot box but on the battlefield. Both sides have voted for the war to continue. At least in the western part of Ukraine support for the war is still high. The increasing popularity of the Fascists will put more pressure on Poroshenko to continue the war. In Novorossiya where voter turnout was high peoples votes signaled their continued support for the struggle for independence. For those in Kiev controlled areas that do not support the new regime there only option option was not to vote at all. Under Ukraine's treason laws passed a couple months back any dissent is punishable. Tragic stories are already emerging of people sentenced to long prison terms merely for being face book friends with someone guilty of separatism. Less lucky dissenters are kidnapped and murdered. It seems likely that as the war drags on new areas may rise up in rebellion or be liberated by the NAF. It remains to be seen wether Kiev will dare to launch another major offensive against Novorossiya before the end of the year. If they do given past history they may suffer yet another disastrous defeat.
I recently read a fascinating if clumsily translated book on the rise of Fascism in Ukraine I definitely recommend it for those curious about how Ukraine developed such a massive fascist movement. It's "Neonazis & Euromaidan From Democracy to Dictatorship" by Stanislav Byshok and Alexey Kochetov.
Eric Draitser on the Elections in Ukraine
Article on the Elections in Novorossiya