Ukrainian and Crimean Leaders Must Guarantee Minority Rights in Word and Deed Unconditionally

Today's biggest headline is the announcement, following a 78-0 vote with 8 abstentions in Crimea's Parliament, that Crimea will hold a succession referendum on March 16th - 10 days from now. My advice for Crimea's leaders is to  announce unconditional minority rights guarantees and to back those words up with deeds immediately by ordering the police, and whoever the masked military personnel are, to stop the rampaging ethnic Russian majority from all future violent displays like those we've seen toward minorities recently and like those against United Nations special envoy Robert Serry in Simferopol.

Since more than 50% of Crimeans are Russian, "it's easy to say more than 70% of Crimean citizens would say 'yes' " to going to Russia," Rustam Temirgaliyev, vice-premier of the Crimean government, said at a news conference when speaking about the referendum on March 16. Some Crimeans are elated, others wary. The demographics on that elated/wary metric would parallel those of Crimean ethnicity - Russians: 58.32%; Ukrainians: 24.32%; Crimean Tatars: 12.1%; Belarusians, 1.44%; Tatars: 0.54%; Armenians: 0.43%; Jews: 0.22%, Greeks: 0.15% and others.

"Since more than 50% of Crimeans are Russian, it's easy to say more than 70% of Crimean citizens would say 'yes' " to going to Russia," Rustam Temirgaliyev, vice-premier of the Crimean government, said at a news conference earlier today announcing the referendum. This announcement was predictably trashed by 'our man Yats', who hypocritically denounced the referendum. 'illegitamet'.

Yats is following the delusional logic of Obama and Kerry as Robert Parry explained today saying: "When Secretary of State John Kerry denounces Russia’s intervention in Crimea by declaring “It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not Twenty-first Century, G-8, major-nation behavior,” you might expect that the next line in a serious newspaper would note Kerry’s 'breathtaking hypocrisy'. The article goes on to list and explain America's illegal foreign interventions since WWII. It's a worthwhile read for those with a strong stomach.

Yats and his unelected government should take the same advice given above and immediately move to stop the violence against minorities throughout Ukraine. In case you haven't heard about it that's because the west's MSM "presstitutes" never mention it: Fascist gangs now patrol the streets. The puppet politicians who Washington intended to put in charge of Ukraine have lost control to organized and armed neo-nazis, who are attacking Jews, Russians, and intimidating any Ukrainian politicians or media that dare oppose them.

But they are also in Kiev's corridors of power. The far right Svoboda party, whose leader has denounced the "criminal activities" of "organised Jewry" and which was condemned by the European parliament for its "racist and antisemitic views", has five ministerial posts in the new government, including deputy prime minister and prosecutor general. The leader of the even more extreme Right Sector, at the heart of the street violence, is now Ukraine's deputy national security chief.

On a positive note of things to come yesterday a delegation of leading Russian Tatars came over and met with Crimean Tatar leaders. The Russian Tatars told the Crimeans that they were treated well and fairly in Russia. This positive sign could be greatly amplified by a guarantee of minority rights in Crimea immediately.

Crimea's Tatars, who returned to Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s to reclaim lands lost when their people were exiled to faraway parts of Russia by Joseph Stalin, are understandably worried about the upcoming referendum. The Muslim Tatars are very important. If Crimea's political chaos results in anti-Tatar violence extremists and radicals who have fought insurgencies in Kazakhstan and many other countries in recent decades could flood into Crimea.

Sulaymanov Mukhamed Ali, a prominent Tartar in Simferopol, is worried about the future. "My personal mission is to keep my people from doing anything violent," Ali said today. He compared the Crimea to a keg of gunpowder "and someone is standing beside it playing with a lighter...We are a proud people. We are a bold people, but we don't want any war and are doing everything in our power to prevent it," he said.

Russia immediately hailed the referendum announcement. Of course, Russia has its own agendas including geo-political positioning and control of Crimea's offshore fossil fuel reserves. More tomorrow on the Tatars unique role in Russian history and, though a minority today, the powerful position they are in and have been across Eurasia for a very long time.