December 5, 2023


Equality opinion

Ukraine: Are we also at fault?

Ukraine: Are we also at fault?

By Peter Emerson

Mariupol is still a further metropolis which humankind has to start with created… and then ruined, flattened, like Guernica and Warsaw.  And Russia now does to others, what it as well has endured, as in Leningrad and by its have hand, in Grozny.

Mariupol is not a Russian term if it were Russian or Slavic, it would be ‘Mariugrad’ or ‘Mariusky’.  But the suffix ‘pol’, as in Sevastopol and Simferopol, is Greek, and it goes back again 2,000 yrs or so, when the Greeks ended up on this Black Sea littoral, lengthy before Russia was concocted.  What’s a lot more, Russia is not a Slav nation: the Federation incorporates Samis in Lapland, Maris and Tartars near the Urals, Chechens and Dagestanis in the Northern Caucasus, and above 50 different ethnic groups in Siberia, like the Buryats in close proximity to Lake Baikal and the Chukchis on the Pacific coastline.  Meanwhile, other nations or locations like Slovakia, Slovenia and Slavonia (in Japanese Croatia) are Slav, as is Poland, for example, and in the primary, Ukraine.

BeIfast’s third raIIy towards the war in Ukraine. Image: Kateryna Zaichyk


In 2004, I was an OSCE election observer in Kharkiv, an election fought in the remaining round among just two candidates – Yushchenko and Yanukovich – so everything was extremely binary and divisive.  Yushchenko was pro-EU, Yanukovich professional-Russia.  The former desired the Ukrainian language, the latter Russian… but these two languages are extremely identical.  Western Ukraine is more Catholic or Uniate, the japanese ‘half’ opts for the Orthodox Church, … but these two denominations are both of those Christian.  (And, as in Northern Eire, very little dissimilarities can all much too effortlessly divide and antagonise.)   Needless to say, in the election, both of those candidates had their get-togethers, and observers.  Two of them had been sitting down next to every other in the count, and I asked them, what was it like to compete towards each other.  “Oh right now, we are opponents, of course но завтра будем друзьями – but tomorrow, we’ll be pals again.”

How perilous it was, we may say if only in retrospect, to use this sort of a divisive voting procedure.


So what can we do, below in Ireland, to aid our fellow humans in Ukraine?  Inter alia, we really should not be employing, thus endorsing and even justifying ‘false flags’, provocations, excuses for violence.  I refer in specific to binary referendums.

In 1920, when Eire opted out of the Uk, Northern Eire opted out of opting out and opted back in once more, (albeit with out referendums).  In like manner, when Bosnia opted out of Yugoslavia, Republika Srpska tried to decide out of Bosnia.  And when Georgia opted out of the USSR, South Ossetia tried out to choose out of Georgia.  The two the Balkans and the Caucasus had been inundated with referendums they continue to are.

A similar destiny befell Kiev: Ukraine opted out of USSR in 1991, and each ‘county’, oblast, voted for independence, which include Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.  But, in 2014, these three tried using to opt out of Ukraine.  There once again, referendum selections can in truth be reversed: it is catered for in the Belfast Settlement, and it’s what some in Scotland now want to do.  In truth, you will try to remember, Scotland also experienced a referendum in 2014, and it is sobering to recall that the word Shotlandiya, Scotland, was utilised by Russian separatists in Luhansk (I was there).  Meanwhile, like Northern Ireland, a aspect of Donetsk known as Dobropillia and Krasnoarmiisk, tried out to opt out of opting out and to decide back into Ukraine.  In this last referendum, 69%, i.e., some two million men and women voted to go back into Ukraine.  Alas, as in the Balkans, so way too in Ukraine, the powers that be – the West in the Balkans, Putin in the Donbas – recognise only those people referendums the benefits of which they approve.

It is all a little bit like individuals popular Russian dolls, the matryoshki – ‘matryoshka nationalism’ the Russians named it – or utilised to, ahead of .  Within every doll, there is one more very little a person.  Together with every single the vast majority, there is normally an additional minority.  But global regulation – the ideal of self-perseverance – made havoc in Yugoslavia, where “all the wars… started off with a referendum,” (Oslobodjenje, 7.2.1999), and in Ukraine. 

Almost everything is related.  “Всё связано,” to quotation Vladimir Vernadsky, the founder of Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences.  Binary referendums can be wrong flags.  In Bosnia, Milorad Dodik in Republika Srpska is rattling his sabres and ballot containers, and so much too in Georgia was Anatoly Bibilov in South Ossetia, the President right up until he dropped the recent election.  And now Zaporizhzhia desires a single as properly, voting and combating over a nuclear electricity station!  This is just so damned harmful.

Appropriately, below in Eire (and Scotland), if only for the sake of peace in Ukraine and in other places, we really should not be making an attempt to solve our own constitutional questions with (‘false-flag’) binary referendums. 

Instead, enable us exercise pluralism: the world’s first multi-alternative referendum was in New Zealand in 1894 the ideal in Guam, in 1982, experienced six/seven options.  And in stark contrast to binary balloting, a multi-choice ballot has in no way provoked a war.

Peter Emerson is the director of The de Borda Institute, a Northern Eire-centered NGO, which aims to market the use of inclusive voting techniques on all contentious issues of social selection. He was an Irish Support OSCE election observer in 6 elections in Ukraine, 2004-14 and a member of the EUMM in Georgia for South Ossetia, 2008-09.