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17.04.2014

Not so very “separatist” at all

   

A survey carried out by Civic Watch; the Democratic Initiatives Foundation; and the EU-Ukraine Bridge has indicated a relatively low level of support for separatism even in the Donetsk region. The results place in context the events since April 6, and especially the appearance from April 13 of “green men” armed with the latest Russian weapons and speaking Russian with a difficult accent.  They also refute the attempts by Russia’s propaganda machine to present the “separatists” as being supported by most people in the region.

Respondents from all over the country, including the Crimea, were surveyed from March 16 to 30 this year.  The views were thus given when Russia’s annexation of the Crimea was already an established fact, but before the supposed “separatist” seizures of government buildings in Donetsk region, Luhansk and Kharkiv.

An absolute majority (89%) consider Ukraine to be their motherland.  Only 8% support separatism / the idea of a region breaking away from Ukraine and joining another country.  Even in Donbas [Donetsk and Luhansk regions]  only 18% were in favour (against 0.5% in the West of Ukraine). 

11% throughout the country supported the creation of an independent state on the basis of the south-eastern oblasts: 10% in the south; 10% in the east; and 18% in Donbas.

9.5$ of the population of southern Ukraine support the idea of south-eastern regions joining Russia; 11% in the east; and 27% in Donbas.

Only 6% of the population would like their oblast to secede from Ukraine and create its own independent state (the largest number were in Donbas – 17%; the least in the West – 2%).

At the same time, 32% of the population believe that there are profound political, linguistic and cultural differences and economic disproportion between western and eastern regions and that they could in the future split and create their own states or join other countries.  The figures here too were highest in Donbas (58%) and the South (48%). 

With all such views in Donbas, there was an age difference with people over 55 much more likely to see differences and want secession than young people under 30.

72% of the population believe that Ukraine is facing serious threats, with only 7.5% saying that this is not the case. 

The dangers:

The seizure of Ukraine or a part of its territory by other states – 48%;

Ukraine’s breakup into several parts – 43%;

Economic recession – 42%.

(South:  Mykolaiv, Odessa and Kherson oblasts;

East:  Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhya and Kharkiv oblasts;

Donbas:  Donetsk and Luhansk regions)

On these results and the images shown in the media

At the present time there are large numbers of armed “green men” in uniforms without insignia, many of whom are carrying weapons produced for the Russian military.  Images in the media show crowds supporting them, however it is quite simply impossible to gauge numbers and in most cities under siege the militants are antagonistic towards journalists.  Russian TV channels are however broadcasting again and are seriously distorting viewers’ understanding of what is going on. 

During the earlier phase of disturbances which began on April 6 there were roughly 2 thousand “supporters” of the so-called federalists in three cities: Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv with around 50 young men in each of the cities involved in seizing the administrative buildings.

The following is from a speech given by Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

The coordinated and professional actions by the armed groups, including those penetrating into the Ukrainian territory from abroad, in the Eastern Ukraine, resemble the Crimea scenario. The EU has appealed to the Russian Federation to call back its troops from the Ukrainian border and to cease any further actions aimed at destabilising Ukraine. Any threat or use of force, - be it military force or economic coercion, - against Ukraine or any other countries is not acceptable and must be stopped. It is in our common interest to avoid violence and bloodshed on the European continent, which could spiral out of control. It is in our common interest to jointly work towards an establishment of a common area of prosperity, stability and democracy on the European continent. Yet, such an area can only be established on the basis of the Helsinki OSCE principles and in line with international law. Developments of the upcoming days will demonstrate the choice of Russia. But they might also require unequivocal choices on our side.

The action already taken by Russia, having encountered no real resistance to its annexation of the Crimea, very clearly demands an unequivocal response from the EU and USA.  This, unfortunately, has thus far been expressed mainly in words. 

Halya Coynash

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