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Star Comment: A crackdown in Ukraine

Foreign Secretary William Hague's carping about a 'terrible Russian blow to democracy' in Ukraine can only be described as newspeak when Kiev's armies are rampaging across the country's east

NEWSPEAK is clearly the order of the day in Kiev, where Britain’s warmongering Foreign Secretary William Hague carped yesterday that Russia was striking a “terrible blow to democracy” in Ukraine.

Mr Hague says a referendum planned for this weekend in Donetsk on whether to secede from Ukraine is a Kremlin plot to undermine elections. He might pause to reflect that there are few better ways to undermine elections than overthrowing an elected government by armed force, as the current cabal in Kiev he treats as the legitimate Ukrainian authorities have done.

He did not object to the “terrible blow to democracy” when the capital city fell in February to gun-toting thugs, many members of the fascist Svoboda Party or the even more extreme neonazis who make up Right Sector.

Nor did he question the unelected government’s right to sign a wide-ranging association agreement with the European Union, with huge consequences for Ukraine’s economy, without consulting Ukrainians.

His concern for democracy didn’t come to the fore when the new regime fired 18 regional governors and replaced them with hand-picked oligarchs.

Donetsk’s new Kiev-appointed overlord was another billionaire — steel tycoon Sergei Taruta.

Fawning interviews in The Guardian taking at face value his claim that there were only “about 300” eastern Ukrainians who would resist notwithstanding, the subsequent mass uprising which established a “Donetsk People’s Republic” suggests locals do not view Mr Taruta as their democratic saviour.

This might have influenced the region’s determination to hold a referendum on secession this weekend more than any interference from Moscow, which has not voiced support for the proposed vote.

Mr Hague’s worry that it could delegitimise the national elections Kiev wishes to hold on May 25 rings hollow. The elections could hardly be “free and fair” at a time when the Ukrainian army is waging an all-out war on resistance groups across the country’s east.

Nor do Kiev’s democratic credentials appear in a better light following this week’s decision to bar elected Communist MPs from a plenary session in parliament — another blow to democracy that escaped the attention of the myopic Mr Hague.

The expulsion of the Communists came after their leader Petro Symonenko demanded an investigation into the atrocity committed by Kiev-allied fascists in Odessa, who trapped over 40 anti-regime protesters in the trade union headquarters on May 2 and burned them to death.

 

The authorities take this so seriously that they have appointed a new police chief for the city. Ivan Katerinchuk’s first move was to pledge to rearrest 67 anti-fascist protesters who had been released and to call on Right Sector, which is linked to the massacre by video footage, photographs and eyewitness accounts, to “exercise restraint” and liaise better with the police in future actions.

Mr Hague says claims that extremists have taken over Ukraine are “far, far wide of the mark.” References to fascists are mere Russian propaganda, he asserts.

He should tell that to the relatives of the activists who were incinerated last week, to the friends and loved ones of the scores of others falling victim to Kiev’s brutal attempt to impose its authority on anyone who questions the legitimacy of February’s coup.

He should tell it to the Jewish community in Odessa, who saw their memorial to 34,000 Jews murdered during the nazi invasion painted over with swastikas and Right Sector symbols last month.

Spokesmen for the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine are clear — secession votes are not driven by a desire to be part of Russia. They are driven by fear of what their country is becoming.

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