Srdja Trifkovic Crimean Referendum Observer

trifkovic

Crimean Referendum Remarkably Peaceful

Download audio file 19 April, 2014 00:00

Coverage in the Western media, statements by US, EU officials and now a report by the UN – all try to paint a negative portrait of the Crimean Referendum. According to a former Assistant US Treasury Secretary, a UN report that was just released is simply propaganda created by Washington and lacks both grounds and credibility as well as evidence. He said that the report was an orchestrated propaganda attempt that had been arranged to serve the US agenda, discredit the referendum and deflect attention from the fact that Washington overthrew a democratically elected government in Europe. The Voice of Russia spoke to Srdja Trifkovic, the foreign affairs editor at Chronicles Magazine, he was an observer at the Crimean Referendum on this issue and more.

Hello, this is John Robles, you are listening to an interview with Srdja Trifkovic, he is the foreign affairs editor at Chronicles Magazine, he was also a part of the Crimean Observer Mission to Crimea during the recent referendum. This is part 1 of a longer interview. You can find a rest of it on our website at voiceofrussia.com.

Robles: Hello, sir. How are you this afternoon?

Trifkovic: I'm very well, thank you. It is a bit chilly and raining in Belgrade, most unseasonably, but I suppose that is a price to be paid for belonging to the international community.

Robles: Yeah, I guess. It's quite sunny and beautiful right now in Moscow which is also unusual. I guess, I don't know if that is a reward to be paid for trying to be part of the international community, I guess.

Getting a little bit more serious now regarding the Crimean Referendum, you were asked to take part as an observer by the authorities in Crimea. Can you tell us about the other groups that were there? Who was invited? Who was not invited? Who refused? And then tell us some details about what you saw if you could.

Trifkovic: My understanding from secondhand sources is that they wanted to invite an OSCE group but the OSCE authorities refused the request because they felt that this would imply the recognition of the legality of the proceedings.

Robles: Can I ask you a question now? I'm sorry to interrupt you! From the outset, right, would you agree or do you think there was, just judging from what you just told me, that before it was even carried out, they didn't want to give it legitimacy?

Trifkovic: I'm quite certain that OSCE had decided upfront not to give it legitimacy regardless of the propriety of the proceedings or the attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to turn the exercise into as democratic an event as possible under the circumstances.

So in the end the observers were a group of individuals representing different institutions or organizations or simply coming as themselves in their own right. And it was a very mixed group.

There was a senior Partido Popular official from Spain, the former chairman of the party's Youth Wing. There was a Marxist from Greece, a member of the European Parliament belonging to the Communist Party, there was a right-winger from Hungary belonging to Jobbik party, also a member of European Parliament. There was a Finnish political scientist, there was a Polish political scientist who unlike many Poles believes that a sane relationship with Russia is a prerequisite of Poland's long term security and stability.

Robles: Wow!That is someone we should talk to..

Trifkovic: There were also a couple of people from Israel including the editor of a Russian language newspaper in Tel Aviv and a member of the Knesset.

So all in all it was group of people who do not necessarily share any single political denominator. It was a very diverse group to use the p.c. term, very diverse indeed.

Robles: Yeah, very.

Trifkovic: We all believed that what was happening in the Crimea deserved to be observed, that in any event a stroke of pen by the Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party from 60 years ago should not be the holy grail and the casting stone outcome, that two and a half generations later should determine the destiny of the people.

So to the best of our knowledge, and I visited three polling stations before the referendum day, and four of them on the day itself, I also travelled to Yalta and to Sevastopol from Simferopol where I was based and to Bakhchysarai and I could tell you that it was remarkable the extent to which everything was peaceful and seemed normal.

It very often is the case when you come to a crisis point from the outside that you are struck by the normality of the place, but in the Crimea it was remarkable and it was commented upon by some other members of the group.

For instance on the referendum day itself there was no patriotic music blaring from the loudspeakers, it was mainly old Soviet Era pop music, some of it a bit on the cheesy side, including the ubiquitous Podmoskovnie Vechera.

So you know, nationalistic jubilance, people turning up to do what they think needed to be done and doing it in a business-like air of fulfilling their citizens' duty.

One thing is certain, and I can testify to that in good faith, is that there was not even a hint of pressure and that the lines that formed early on the day, Sunday the 15th, were mainly elderly people who enthusiastically wanted to be there first thing in the morning, later on the day there were families with children and around midday the young people turned up when they slept off Saturday night before.

And even in Bakhchysarai which is the center of the Crimean Tatar community when my translator and driver and I stopped for lunch on Monday afternoon, the day after that referendum, everything was perfectly peaceful and there were no checkpoints of any kind either by the Crimean militia or by some kind of Tatar Self-Defense Force, as was reported in some of the western media.

I had a good lunch in a Tatar restaurant even though it was a bit late to order lunch, it was 4 pm but they were very forthcoming. And the air of tranquility and normalcy was overwhelming and yet the previous day the Guardian reported that ethnic tensions in Bakhchysarai had reached the boiling point and that many people were considering leaving which was simply rubbish.

Robles: Yeah. I just want to underline this point since you are talking about the peacefulness in the situation there, there is also a lot of reports in the western media, and I've seen them myself and I think the publication you are talking about, the Guardian, has published information saying that there was a huge presence of Russian troops everywhere and people were being forced and intimidated to vote by these "evil Russian soldiers" that were basically, you know, on every corner. Did you see any troops?

Trifkovic: No. I saw one patrol of local militia in Sevastopol on Monday, the day after the referendum, and they were two young lads with rifles, one of them constantly talking on the cell phone to his girlfriend and two middle aged Cossacks from the Kuban and they were unarmed.

And also outside the Verkhovna Rada building in Simferopol there were perhaps two dozen Cossacks but none of them armed and certainly of the seven polling stations I have visited all together, three on the day before just to check up on the preparations, and four on the day itself, I never saw one uniformed person of any kind whether a policeman or a soldier.

And driving to Yalta and back from Simferopol on Saturday, the15th I only saw one uniformed person and it was a traffic policeman manning a speed trap.

Robles: I just want to make this clear, just for the listeners, because there are going to be accusations that this was set up or something..I've never spoken to you before and you are not being paid for this interview and this is not prearranged, these are your own views that you are giving right now. Is that correct?

Trifkovic: Well, I have already written about that on the website of Chronicles magazine, it is on chroniclesmagazine.org. And I have also published articles both in Serbian and in Russian on the subject.

What is obvious from Crimean episode is that the gap between the artificial reality created by the western media machine and the tangible reality on the ground is growing by the day and that is essentially what we have seen with the coverage of Maidan in the months preceding the Crimean episode and what we have seen with a coverage of Sochi, indicates a certain mindset in the media pack that is more reminiscent of the era of real socialism and unfortunately it is somewhat more effective because many western consumers of these media products are not even aware that they are being manipulated whereas in the Soviet Union those people knew and only pretended to go along with it.

Robles: Yeah, and that is something I come up against every single day. They still believe in the "fair and balanced" words of Fox News for some reason, I don't know, many people don't..

Trifkovic: It is both, the so called Left and the so called Right. We mentioned Fox News and we mentioned the Guardian and you have their emanations because one represents the kind of "Triumphalist Global Hegemonist Neoconservative" point of view and the other presents the "Liberal Globalist Foreign Policy as Social Work and NATO as a Humanitarian Organization" point of view. But in essence the fruits of their labor are the same. Which is to legitimize a policy based upon meddling in other peoples' affairs and of creating regime change situations and actually providing uncritical support for governments in their pursuit of these objectives, which in reality are light years away from any rationally defined national interests of either the US or of the West European countries.

It is absolutely of no consequence to the denizens of Omaha or Seattle whose flag flies over Simferopol's Supreme Soviet and at the same time the meddling in Ukraine's affairs has created a situation in which the cities of Omaha and Seattle will remain targeted by the Russian ICBM's.

Robles: Very good. Talking about regime change operations, NGO's USAID what in your opinion was their objective? We know NATO wanted to put missile elements that much closer to Russian borders, we know they want to control resources, they want to diminish any sort of Russian influence in Eastern Europe and in Ukraine. We know Exxon and Chevron were behind funding (and George Soros) to the amount of at least $5 billion, I'm sure it was quite more. In your opinion as someone who has been there and an expert – what was the real US objective in Ukraine? Some people are saying it was just getting back at Russia for Syria and to try to dirty the impression after the very successful Olympic Games.

Trifkovic: No. It goes deeper than that and it would not have been possible to organize the infrastructure of regime change so quickly.

We have to understand that it goes even beyond any immediate quantifiable tangible gain whether it is the pipelines or whether it is energy resources. It reflects a certain Russophobia which is visceral and which is perfectly natural or how shall I put it, which has been internalized by the Western elite class to such an extent that it is no longer subject to any questioning or critical examination.

You were listening to an interview with Srdja Trifkovic, he is the foreign affairs editor at Chronicles magazine, he was also an observer at the recent Crimean Referendum. That was part 1 of a longer interview. You can find a rest of it on our website at voiceofrussia.com. Thank you very much for listening and as always I wish you the best wherever you may be. Stay with us.

 

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