Why Crimeans voted to break from Ukraine experiment

Re: Crisis in Crimea not as simple as we think (Letters, NewsLeader, April 4)

Victor Finberg presented some valid points about the strategic, military, and historical significance of Sevastopol and Crimea to Russia.

But as a native of Crimea who has lived in Burnaby for 20 years, I want to address the reasons why Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia.

1. The frightening rise of neo-Nazism in Ukraine. The most visible achievement of Ukrainian independence has been a political atmosphere that breeds extremist nationalists and thugs. They hold huge torchlit marches with black flags bearing neo-Nazi insignia, through many Western Ukrainian cities.

Monuments honouring Ukrainian SS troops in World War II are now a common, shocking sight. In fact, Ukraine is the only modern European nation that has allowed neo-Nazism to grow out of control.

Now it’s a scary reality in many parts of post-Soviet Ukraine. The famous phrase by a leader of the Right Sector, now set to form the National Guard, that "Crimea will be Ukrainian or empty", is typical.

At the same time the majority of Ukrainians prefer to speak Russian, even the infamous ex-convict Yulia Tymoshenko, a pro-Western candidate, now running for president.

2. The horrible economic state of Ukraine, which has been deteriorating since independence in 1991. A logical consequence has been a constant outflow of professionals in all fields of industry and science. But also unskilled workers, mainly to Russia, Europe and North America.

Currently, there are at least three million Ukrainians working in Russia and sending money to their families at home.

My Crimea was an underinvested and neglected region with crumbling infrastructure. It served only as a cash-cow and a sunny vacation destination for a long line of corrupt rulers in Kiev.

It had been a place of hopelessness for 23 years until the events at Maidan last February gave Crimeans a glimmer of hope.

3. The expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe despite many assurances to Russia it would never happen is a major strategic miscalculation.

Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus—the Kremlin will never tolerate these buffer territories joining NATO.

4. Finally, despite disinformation about alleged violations in March 16 referendum to rejoin Russia, 135 international observers issued a declaration stating no violations had occurred. I am sure Canadians will be surprised to hear this fact ignored by our national media.

Crimeans lined up outside the polls for hours for a unique chance to escape the failed experiment of Ukrainian independence.

Gloria Karadeniz

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