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2008-08-09-Ukraina-Jalta-Livadia-Palace-207-framsida-exteriör-syddLivadia Palace in Crimea, the former home of Tsar Nicholas II and dream ‘rest home’ of US President Theodore Roosevelt

The upcoming 16 March referendum on the future of the Crimea and status of the city of Sevastopol has been declared “illegitimate” by the West. At the recent extraordinary EU Council of heads of state in Brussels devoted to the Ukraine crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel explained that the Crimean plebiscite is poorly prepared, undertaken in haste and without consultation with the government, therefore it is not valid.

Any parallels with the upcoming September Scottish vote are deeemed irrelevant. Criticism about the absence of co-operation with Kiev’s new self-proclaimed government does not make much sense, not only because it is self-proclaimed, but also because its ascendance has been stained by violence and bloodshed.  The legitimate president finds himself in exile and even those who agree with his status admit that his authority is close to zero.

Krims premiärminister Sergey Aksyonov har förklarat att folkomröstningens snabba takt beror på risken för provokation och behovet av att undvika upprepningen av tragedin vid Maidantorget. Oavsett motiv ändrar inte datumen essensen: den gåva som erbjöds av Sovjetunionens kommunistpartis generalsekreterare Nikita Chrushev till det urkaniska folket var lätt att ge bort 1954, men det kommer inte att bli lätt att återhämta sig. Åsikten från de två miljoner invånarna på halvön väger inte tillräckligt tungt för att vinna över nyckerna från de politiska äventyrare vid makten i det förflutna och nuet, i sammanhanget av den nuvarande politiska konjunkturen.

Spänningarna kring folkomröstningen ökar när Organisationen för säkerhet och samarbete i Europa (OSSE) uppdrag som försökte ta sig in på Krim stoppades av beväpnade män – ett dåligt omen, eftersom det stänger av perspektivet för internationellt erkännande av folkomröstningen. Detta förkastande avslutade våldet och blodsutgjutelsen på Maidantorget, där både människor och förtroende mellan Ryssland och västvärlden dödades.

The storming of military base Belbek Airport in Crimea completed the picture, giving the Kremlin grounds to accuse the West of exporting “coloured” revolutions.

Meanwhile, Russian web users are gambling over the amount to be invested in the old Russian province, which until the 1917 October Revolution was called Tavricheskaya province, in case it joins the Russian Federation.  It was once a luxurious resort favoured by Tsar Nicolas II, the last Romanov, who was overjoyed to have a home in Livadia Palace. US President Theodore Roosevelt, half a century later, was equally charmed by the location, reportedly wishing to move there “when pensioned”.

Annons

Once the most illustrious province of the Russian empire and subsequently a popular resort for the Communist elite, the Crimea’s charms proved to be a turning point for Gorbachev, who was overthrown in a statskupp under semestern där.

The Crimea fell into decline after the collapse of the USSR – the population decreased by almost half a million as the resort’s fame faded, unable to compete internationally without investment and incapable of providing jobs for the weak local economy, which aggravated its fall from grace. But the economic difficulties were eclipsed by cultural problems: Aksyonov has reminded his compatriots about the “second class” status of Crimeans in Ukraine.

The referendum will decide upon two options – joining Russia or restoration of  autonomy within Ukraine. Sadly for Crimea, with its rich historical past, independence is no longer at stake. It could become a Malta of the Black Sea, a conjuction of eastern and western civilizations. Alas, the Maidan Square snipers killed the independence perspective – the risk of bloodshed remains high, pushing Crimeans into the arms of the Kremlin, preparing to exchange their freedom for authoritarian stability.

The Maidan revolution has pushed the population towards a restoration of the ancient borders of the Russian empire. Subsequently, Crimea’s status has become another sui generis som Kosovo. En oväntad kollision när Ukraina integrerades i EU.

 

 

Anna van Densky

 

 

Anna van Densky

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