A media exercise in humiliation, and an element of war crimes
There’s yet another reason any such referendum would be a sham. By virtue of conducting it, Russia acknowledges that it is doing so on Ukrainian territory. Which is by definition governed by Ukrainian law and its constitution. Any such referendum would by blatantly unconstitutional and therefore invalid.
Article 73 of the Ukrainian Constitution explicitly states that any issue regarding the country’s borders shall be subject to an “All-Ukrainian “ referendum in which all Ukrainian oblasts must participate.
Article 72 states that an alll-Ukrainian referendum can by called by the President or parliament, or by a public initiative involving the valid signatures of at least 3 million registered voters, with at least 100,000 such signatures from every oblast.
I don’t think the Russians have complied with any of these conditions.
Spot on in every sentence. Yes, it is hard to find the appropriate word that goes beyond merely "obscene". And not to forget, as the midterm elections approach in the US, that his is the same dystopian world that Trump was trying to lie us into, and that can only thrive on chaos and intentional ignorance. Thank you for shedding an accurate historical light on this unfolding tragedy.
"What about the dead? What about the more than 100,000 Ukrainian the Russians killed in Mariupol? How should we think about their “votes”? What about the more than three million Ukrainian citizens whom Russia has forcibly deported, many of whom are now in camps? In the regions where the media exercise will be applied, Russia has destroyed city after city. Everywhere Russia occupied territory, it leaves behind mass graves. When I was in Ukraine a couple of weeks ago, I visited one of them, as well as the homes of people who had lost family members. While I was in Ukraine, the Ukrainian army liberated much of Kharkiv region, and now we know of more mass graves, for example in Izyum."
These are emotionally difficult questions to read, let alone answer, not because we don't know the answers, we do know. And while we are shocked and saddened by the reality of unspeakable inhumane brutality of Russian war crimes, this quickly turns to anger towards Putin and the Russian Army, and compassion towards Ukrainians. Even if the threat is just theatre, threats of nuclear bombs, what more can we do to help Ukraine? What is our message to those Russian Generals who would have to carry out such an order? How hard is it to accept that Russia does not deserve a seat on the Security Council, nor membership in the UN. The invasion was unprovoked, unlawful, and war crimes have been committed, and then threats of unleashing the unthinkable.... nuclear bombs? Why does the the UN Security Council exist? Whose security does it seek to protect while Putin's Russia is a member?
It is interesting to me that even despots like Putin feel the need to ground their actions in a democratic-like process, even if it is a sham. For those ridiculous Americans who think a dictatorship is preferable to the hard work of maintaining a democracy, I wonder how they think we should “decide” which dictator should lead us?
Words that could bring clarify are a casualty of Russia/Putin's aggression. Our own media must think critically about how they can even speak about what is planned in areas devasted among populations brutalized and murdered or deported to "filtration" camps. Even language has become a hostage. On another note - what a powerful, inspiring, challenging speech to the UN General Assembly by President Zelenskyi yesterday. I've listened more than once and read it as well. Now if only the world's leaders have the balls to do some of what he suggested in his 5 point plan - to begin - revoke Russia's veto on the Security Council. That entire rule also lets other nations get away with stupid things including the United States. That whole way of being organized did not work well even at the beginning of the UN.
There is a story here that applies to all tyrants around the world. A methodology that has always existed, but seems to grow and accelerate with reinforcement through our rapid technological dissemination of prepared political sound bites and news clips. World recognized tyrants like Putin, Orban and Trump to US tyrants like DeSantis, Abott and LePage violate social and political norms, break laws getting away with it, make statements 180 degrees from what they do or mean, and lie incessantly. And this propaganda goes on everyday, until as a local lobsterman told me on the dock, the average person is brain washed into believing an alternative deadly reality.
Of course a sham...and of no substance.
Watching Ken Burns' Holocaust program last night, I was reminded of the irony that Russia benefitted from "Lend-Lease" to defeat the existentially invading Germany in WWII, and now is complaining about a version of "Lend Lease" in 2022 "fighting a proxy war", when US involvement is for the same interest: the continued existence of a supported sovereign nation. Reading a book now about letters Harry Truman wrote, but did not send. Even he was amazed at how quickly Stalin and the Soviet Union abrogated all of its promises and commitments made at Yalta (and at Potsdam) after WWII was over.
Dr. Snyder, as a member of the Ukrainian diaspora, I am deeply grateful for your thinking and analysis. I have become a founding member. Anything else you need, please ask. One thing I would ask - is there any way you can include a share link to Linkedin? My Linkedin community is larger than my Twitter community (and includes hundreds of lawyers and governance professionals). I would like to ensure your analysis gets to as many people as possible.
Does "making" the territories "Russian" reflect Putin's need to replenish his troops there with conscripts? My understanding is that Russian law prohibits using conscripts beyond the borders of Russia. Many, probably most, of the 300,000 reservists Putin is now activating were originally conscripts, and some would likely try to use that status to resist being turned into occupiers of Ukraine.
Thank you for your work and commitment to the truth. I hope the Biden administration and news outlets are listening and learning from you.
If the audience would be interested, you can visit my YT channel "Daniel Poirot" on the history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian language. Thank You & Best Regards.
Evidently Russians--at least a few for now, maybe more as the "partial mobilization" gains momentum-- are unwilling to live as though the tyrant's lies are true when the tyrant puts their own lives at risk. Will the degree of force required to suppress resistance to performative acquiescence to the lie lead Putin into a two-front war, one in Ukraine, the other against the people of the Russian Federation?
"Putin needs a new wall of illusion. " ILLUSION - a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.
Politicians love illusions because people love illusions. Illusions allow one to defer responsibility. Illusions are meat thrown to the mad dogs below. We are those dogs.
I am now dreading the news coming out of Ukraine and Russia. Professor Snyder's latest piece calls a spade a spade but also deepens my sense of despair. One question: is the 100,000 dead in Mariupol not an error? I would have thought that the victims numbered in the region of 10,000. See here https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/over-10000-civilians-killed-in-mariupol-siege-mayor-says That is exactly 10,000 more than how many should have died, but perhaps a correction is in order?
I hope the Western media heeds your advice and stops calling these "referendums". He can call a genocide a "special military operation", but we are not obligated to call these fake press releases "referendums."
We're moving into the second phase of this war, the political phase, probably the last, as Putin is completely unprepared. As for a typical citizen, it's much easier to ignore politicians when their actions are happening a world away. However, notwithstanding the typical Russian's ability to absorb bullshit, a physical call-up is beyond anyone's ability to ignore. I guess the chasm of difference between metropolitan Moscow and the hinterland will now be exposed and Putin will fall into it.