Home » russia » The Confusing Formulations of the #Kremlin’s Pseudo-#Referendum on #Crimea

The Confusing Formulations of the #Kremlin’s Pseudo-#Referendum on #Crimea

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One of the various strange aspects of the 2014 “referendum” on Crimea (that I have not seen discussed yet) was that the alternative option to the peninsula’s “re-unification” with the Russian Federation, i.e. the other option of a return to Crimea’s constitution of 1992 offered in the second question, was left ambivalent. Not only was there no possibility to vote for the status quo. The “referendum’s” second option did not specify which of the two 1992 editions of that year’s constitution it referred to: the May or the September version? Compare just the first article of both versions:

May 1992:

Статья 1

1. Республика Крым является правовым, демократическим государством. На своей территории Республика обладает верховным правом в отношении природных богатств, материальных, культурных и духовных ценностей, осуществляет свои суверенные права и всю полноту власти на данной территории.

2. Республика в лице ее государственных органов и должностных лиц осуществляет на своей территории все полномочия за исключением тех, которые она добровольно делегирует Украине.

3. Компетенция Республики Крым устанавливается Конституционным Законом Республики.

September 1992:

Статья 1

1. Республика Крым является правовым, демократическим, светским государством в составе Украины.

2. Республика Крым в лице ее государственных органов и должностных лиц осуществляет на своей территории все полномочия, кроме тех, которые составляют исключительную компетенцию органов государственной власти Украины.

3. Компетенция Республики Крым устанавливается Конституцией Республики Крым и Законом Украины «О разграничении полномочий между органами государственной власти Украины и Республики Крым».

Yet, the second question in the 2014 “referendum” merely asked: “Вы за восстановление действия Конституции Республики Крым 1992 года и за статус Крыма как части Украины?” The voters would not know to which of the two 1992 texts of the constitution this question actually referred. They had thus only the choice to vote for a sure option (i.e. incorporation into Russia), or for an unclear option (i.e. another unspecified constitution).

A more obvious critique is that the question that won the “referendum” told a lie: “Вы за воссоединение Крыма с Россией на правах субъекта Российской Федерации?” Crimea could not be “re-united” with Russia, because it never was a part of “Russia” in any way different than much of the rest of Ukraine did belong to “Russia.” Arguably, there was indeed no “Russia” before 1991. There were only the Tsarist empire (including today Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Poland etc.) and the Soviet Union – to which both Crimea and most of mainland Ukraine once belonged. Almost all of the territory of today’s Ukrainian state – and not only Crimea – had been a constituent part of the “Russia” that the first question in the 2014 Crimea “referendum” referred to. Crimea remained after 1991 united with a part of that state it had before belonged to, i.e. it remained united with the Ukrainian territory of the Romanov and Bolshevik empires (to which it was and is geologically attached to, in any way). As there was thus no separation – there could also be no “re-unification.”


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