by Eric Zuesse
This news-report consists of a compilation of accounts that Crimeans have given to human rights groups or directly posted to the internet, regarding their experiences when the freely elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who had received 75% of the votes of Crimeans, was violently overthrown during January and February of 2014.
On 20 February 2014, eight busloads of people from Crimea, who had come into Ukraine’s capital Kiev and were holding signs there demonstrating in opposition to the “Maidan” movement, which was seeking to oust Yanukovych, were violently attacked by “Right Sector” people who were leading the Maidan movement; and those terrified Crimeans then scrambled back into their buses, which promptly sped southward, toward home in Crimea.
An organization “Ukraine Human Rights” created and posted to the internet, on 14 August 2014, a 25-minute video, with English subtitles, telling these people’s stories. It’s titled “The Pogrom of Korsun”, and it reports, with testimony and some of the videos from survivors, the attacks against those buses when a gang of Ukraine’s Right Sector members caught up with those escaping Crimeans, near the Ukrainian town of Korsun.
Private cellphone videos that were taken of these incidents were shown in the compilation by Ukraine Human Rights, but one other striking cellphone video, which was posted to youtube on 15 August 2014, isn’t fully available anymore, and it showed the view from the rear seat of a car as it was approaching a blockage, and the blocked buses, some of which were aflame. A few car-drivers were standing watching at a distance, while the Right Sector people beat and killed Crimeans alongside their buses.
One Crimean who managed to escape Kiev and survive, happened to be a minor official of the Ukrainian government under Yanukovych, an assistant prosecutor, Natalya Poklonskaya, who got into her car while the Maidan demonstrations were peaking, and escaped back to Crimea; she soon thereafter was unemployed, and was, in early April, interviewed on Crimean TV where she told about her experiences during the overthrow, and she was shortly thereafter appointed by Crimea’s new government to be a prosecutor. She was then, on 12 May 2014, banned from travel to U.S-allied countries. In the announcement of this ban, she was listed as “Natalia Vladimirovna Poklonskaya: Prosecutor of Crimea. Actively implementing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” In other words, she was banned for simply doing her job — if not for her still just being alive (and unwilling to work under the people who overthrew Yanukovych).
On 10 June 2016, “The Saker” posted a brief video from Russian Television, which realistically portrayed what almost certainly would have happened to Crimeans “If Crimea Didn’t Reunite with Russia?” A reader there posted his personal account of what he had, in fact, experienced in Crimea during that fateful time, when the news was coming to Crimeans of the horrors occurring (such as shown here in January 2014, and here in February). His entire comment is worth posting, and thus now follows:
The return of Krimu and Sevastopol to Russia was a lot more of a near thing than many people think. I remember very well the day, if memory serves it was the day of the ‘Tatar’, read right sector and mejlis, riot at Krim Rada [Crimean legislature] in Simferopol, that the Russian Black Sea Flot [fleet] commander stated when asked by a news type, that his [obligation] was to defend the Flot, not Sevastopol or the citizens.
That statement was like a bucket of ice cold water thrown in our faces and more than a few of the ‘new patriots’ of Sevastopol were given pause but most simply understood how serious the situation was, doubled down and got to work.
Right sector operatives had been coming down to Krimu and Sevastopol starting in mid January, one could spot them a kilometer away with ease. However, they were here and did start to subtly intimidate some of the citizens. On the other hand most were quietly noted and their little nests, usually in private lodgings in dachi areas, were located and listed. They were interesting to watch, three or four young men with a few young women, lounging around during the day on street and park benches during the time when everyone else was working. They would also nose around to every back alley and side street and photo everything while trying to pass themselves off as ‘tourists’. In January and February? Nice try but no cigar.
The were two major turning points in the events leading up to the success of the Third Defense of Sevastopol during that fateful week after the coup in Kiev.
One, our Berkut [police] and Militsiya [militia] units that were in Kiev during the Maidan coup d’etat had literally fought their way back to Krimu and Sevastopol after their betrayal [escape] by Yanukovich and his stalwart allies. Their welcome in Naxhimova Square in City Center was a flower strewn tumult and from the hearts of Sevastopol Citizens, so much so that some of our Berkut and Militsiya were reduced to tears. Berkut then moved to their lager in City where a cordon of citizens was set up to protect them from SBU as armed Berkut guarded from inside. As an aside Ukraine SBU [Security Bureau of Ukraine] were faced down more than once as they attempted their usual foolishness. After the first face down the word spread like wildfire through the citizenry that they were nothing but a paper tiger, a semi armed criminal gang that were nothing. That was the end of SBU down here.
The citizens of Sevastopol and Krimea began to set up road block posts at the Krim-Ukraine borders and around Sevastopol, Simferopol and Yalta. They were armed with clubs and one or two ancient hunting weapons. In mid week Berkut, after negotiations with Sevastopol locals, declared for Sevastopol, armed up and headed for the barricades to assist and stiffen them. The thugs in Kiev were, to put it mildly, furious.
The second watershed event was thus. After the riot at Krim Rada in Simferopol where right sector, clearly identifiable in the overhead videos, were defeated, as they withdrew they expressed their extreme displeasure at the turn of events and swore they would be back to burn Rada to the ground and show the locals ‘who was boss down here’.
Not much more than 24 hours later a small convoy of aging civilian vehicles appeared at the Krimea Rada Complex in Simferopol, well before dawn. The vehicles disgorged a fairly large group of well armed men who calmly tossed a flash bang through the door of Rada Building and stormed in, much to the shock of the Militsiya Guard Detail stationed there who were expecting a different group to arrive around dawn, politely but firmly removed the pistols and cell phones from Militsiya and invited them to leave. The cell phones were returned to the Militsiya worthies as they left, the pistols stayed in Rada building with the men.
These two events, Berkut pledging allegiance to Sevastopol and moving to the barricades and the taking of Krim Rada by the citizens, were the two salient events that led to the success of the Russian Spring in this peninsula. Unarmed citizens had already begun to block all major and minor bases of the Ukraine Armed Forces, demonstrations and marches were held all over Krim and Sevastopol and Militsiya, DAI and SBU were relegated to bit players in the events who were made well aware of the consequences to themselves if one citizen was harmed by them.
I have no doubts that Moscow was watching these events keenly and it was these two salient events plus the spontaneous blockading of the peninsula, major cities and the Ukraine Armed Forces that in my opinion was the catalyst for Moscow to move and come to the assistance of Krimea and Sevastopol.
– Auslander, commenting on The Saker, 10/6/2016
The United States and its allies are now pouring troops and armaments onto and near Russia’s borders, and have imposed economic sanctions against Russia, for Russia’s having helped the people of Crimea, which Washington and its allies call ‘seizing’ Crimea. Russia doesn’t like having nuclear weapons and tens of thousands of NATO troops etc., on and hear its borders (no more than America’s JFK liked having Soviet missiles 90 miles from the U.S. in Cuba), and therefore a nuclear war could result, from Russia’s protecting Crimeans against being seized like the rest of Ukraine was, by the U.S. and its allies.
While building up these forces on and near Russia’s borders, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on 15 June 2016, as he presented the excuse for doing that, “Allies do not, and will not recognise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. And we will continue to call on Russia to stop its destabilisation of Ukraine [which isn’t even a member of NATO, and therefore isn’t even within NATO’s purview].” He wasn’t referring to the U.S. government’s — the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama — having illegally taken Ukraine in February 2014, in what one expert called “the most blatant coup in history”, but instead to Russia’s and the Crimean peoples’ response to it, which occurred the following month.
So, the world is heading toward what would be the biggest war in history, over little Crimea, and on the basis of only false arguments — strained false arguments, whose underlying assumptions cannot even bear to see the light of day.
One might think that this would be the central issue in the U.S. Presidential campaign. However, Americans don’t even know about it — and almost all of the few who do ‘know’ something about it, misunderstand it. Why is that the case? Why is all of America’s political debate focused on gun laws and other issues that even collectively are far less important than this one issue, whose stakes are whether or not a livable planet will end within a few years, or perhaps even within months?
Whatever is responsible for this issue’s being ignored, could destroy the planet, because it’s an essential part of what has been getting us nearer and nearer to where we’re now heading — which is heading toward the end. If we’re to turn away from the end, then when will that turn happen? Isn’t doing that, more and more difficult, the closer we get, to the end? And, if the end is to come, no one will announce it ahead of time: announcing it, would be to nullify effectiveness of the attack that will start the war, which might last from ten minutes to an hour. Basically, every nuclear weapon that’s not eliminated within the first ten minutes will be fired, and probably all of the weapons will be gone before the hour is up. It won’t be at all like World War II. It will be unprecedentedly brief, and final. (Although some people think not — or at least not for themselves.) The nuclear winter and mass-starvation following it, will be much slower, but just as final — and far more widespread.
Practically speaking, a change in direction might already be too late. But at least one can spread the word about the issue that everyone should be (and to have been) talking and thinking and writing about, in precedence above all other public issues — even if it’s already too late. Thus, this news report is provided, so that at least some of the public (and not only the few people, such as Obama and Stoltenberg, and NATO Supreme Commander Curtis Scaparrotti, who are making the decisions) can understand what’s actually happening, and why. Apparently, for the people at the very top in The West, staying #1 is more important than anything else. Obama said on 28 May 2014, to graduating West Point cadets:
…the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.”
In other words: every other nation is “dispensable,” only the U.S. is not — and he is determined to dispense with any nation that challenges this. We’re heading there, right now. It can be said that we started on this path under U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, back in 1990. But now we may be near the end of it. And yet Americans aren’t even discussing it. In a Presidential election year, moreover. People don’t know about it; so, the government isn’t even being challenged on it. At all. This isn’t fiction; it is the reality.