28 February 2014, 19:46

Crimea goes for broad autonomy: success of Russia's wise diplomacy

Crimea goes for broad autonomy: success of Russia's wise diplomacy

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! I can’t help saying it over and over. I am shouting "bravo!" to Russian diplomacy and the Russian leadership. On Thursday, the Crimean parliament did manage, after all, to call a referendum. It’s important to see how the question that will be put to the referendum has been formulated. Just a few words: "Do you support Crimea’s self-determination within the framework of Ukraine on the basis of international treaties?" The key words here are "within the framework of Ukraine".

What does that mean? It means that Crimea will regain broad autonomy it enjoyed in the early 1990s and that will have its own president and government, while remaining part of Ukraine. That alone suffices to show that allegations of separatism are pure rubbish because there is no secession. A single Ukraine - that’s what the protesters in Simferopol and the Russian Foreign Ministry have both been talking about.

Broad autonomy means that Crimea will have its own supreme bodies of power, its own locally-controlled budget and the right of independent decision-making up to signing international treaties. More than just economic independence, it will also mean independence in matters concerning languages and culture, in "civilizational" matters, if you like. The seemingly ideal solution has, in fact, been prompted by Russia. It rules out military escalation and resolves economic disputes as Moscow would then be really able to help its compatriots in Ukraine.

One’s got to work with Kiev anyway. Real dialogue is still ahead. The so-called "new authorities" broke their commitments the moment they signed them at the actual connivance of the European Union. Up to now, the radicals have not turned in their guns. They refuse to vacate the administrative buildings they have seized. Maidan activists, angry with their yesterday’s leaders, keep piling up tires near the House of Parliament in Kiev. The point is, and it was clear right from the start, that those weren’t leaders in the true sense of the word.

A Cabinet made up of radically-minded representatives of the mob and a one-sided parliament reflecting the interests of handfuls of demonstrators rallying in Maidan and in western Ukraine, and not of the entire nation – well, was there more to expect? Where there used to be a star before it was cut out from the spire of the Verkhovna Rada building, there is now a doughnut hole. Isn’t that symbolical?

Red-and-black flags over Kiev and people wearing armbands – easy to draw historical parallels. All those attributes of blatant Bandera-style nationalism spark outrage, bring back the shocking memories of the Volyn massacre – a tragic chapter in the history of the Russians, Jews and Poles. Bone-chilling images of mass murders… Russians know not from hearsay what the word "fascist" means. For a Russian, a red-and-black flag of the traitors and fascist collaborators is more than just a flag and the desecration of monuments is more than just hooliganism. It’s an insult to our history, to the entire civilized world, an insult to the memory of millions of families, and to me personally as it insults the memory of my grandfather (he and others were led to a wood at gunpoint and no one has ever heard of them after that); it’s an insult to the memory of my grandmother who starved, while in evacuation. We are ready to stand by our memory and by the Victory, to which we owe our lives.

Few believe that the "new power" in Kiev will endure. Yatsenyuk, who was appointed prime minister, has acknowledged that he will lead a "kamikaze" Cabinet. Experts are unanimous in their opinion that the legitimacy of the "new power" is highly questionable and will remain such until the next elections. The opposition will give birth to a more hardline opposition. In the meantime, the country will be sliding into a terrible crisis. The state coffers are virtually empty. Russia will aid no one but Crimea. The United States and the European Union, having realized who seized power in Kiev, are beginning to cool down towards Ukraine. The latest statement by the OSCE and the European Parliament is clear proof of that. Well-wishers in Hungary and Latvia have reportedly raised a couple of thousands of euros. Not much, though, to help Turchinov and his Cabinet escape default.

Ukraine needs new leaders. Not old candies in new wrappers, but serious and competent people capable of focusing on more pressing things than banning languages or tearing down monuments. I am sure radicals like Tyagnibok, who are scoring points on insults and dubious statements, will be kicked out of the Ukrainian elite.

Russia needn’t even apologize. We behave in the most humane and appropriate way, making no territorial claims, yet supporting our Crimean brothers. Bravo, Russia!

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