Ukraine

Voting in Eastern Ukraine

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Today the referendum asking if Luhansk and Donetsk wish to declare independence from/autonomy within Ukraine is being held (it is still unclear what the actual intention of the referendum is supposed to be) and both sides are out in full force smearing the other. The West (EU/Kyiv/US) is of course denouncing the vote as more Russian interference and as illegitimate (particularly rich when you consider how fast the West embraced the government of the leaders of the violent coup against the corrupt technocrat Victor Yanukovych…maybe because this new center-right government wishes to expand free trade into Ukraine and integrate with the capitalist West?) while the East is breathlessly denouncing the new Kyiv regime as “fascistic” and “anti-Russian”. Both sides are of course playing to their bases; Russia wants to keep control over the eastern regions of Ukraine and expand its economic sphere of influence and the West want a “stable” unified Ukraine that is ready for corporate and capitalist expansion and market liberalization. What do the people of Ukraine want? That is less that clear. Many in the east seem to want some form of federalization or at least recognition of their Russian heritage and language as well as a share of the prosperity promised by an increasingly Westernized and corporatized Kyiv. Some want independence, some want unity with Ukraine and some want to join the Russian Federation like their compatriots in Crimea. There is no clear cut answer to the question “who is in the right in Ukraine?” Everyone has their own agenda and the increasingly propagandized media (corporate dominated in the west and state dominated in the east) is happy to play each group off of the other. What is clear is that the people of eastern Ukraine want some measure of respect and the ability to control their own destiny. It remains to be seen whether this latest scheme will do that or just propel Ukraine ever closer to the brink of all out civil war.

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