Kerry: Pro-Russian referendum in eastern Ukraine “bogus”; Update: Putin calls for postponement of referendum

posted at 10:01 am on May 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Haven’t we seen this playbook before? Pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine are demanding a referendum on autonomy from Kyiv, if not outright independence, and apparently plan on conducting it regardless of whether the government cooperates. John Kerry denounced it as “bogus,” but we’ve heard that before too:

The Obama administration denounced as illegal a planned weekend referendum by pro-Russian insurgents pushing for autonomy and independence for portions of eastern Ukraine, as skirmishes continued in several towns with Ukrainian forces trying to retake ground in the region.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday the referendum set for Sunday would be “bogus” and not recognized by the West.

In March, Moscow supported an independence referendum in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which led to its annexation by Russia. Leaders of the anti-government movement say they plan to hold a referendum on autonomy in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, although no preparations for the vote have yet been seen.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, Ukrainian troops tightened a security cordon around a major insurgent-held eastern city but pro-Russia militias acted with impunity elsewhere in the turbulent region bordering Russia, surrounding a major Interior Ministry base and reclaiming a town hall in another city.

Earlier, the Ukrainian government took control of its buildings in the city of Mariupol, but that didn’t last long. CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward stood and watched as Ukrainian security forces abandoned the building, which was retaken by pro-Russian civilians:

The US may consider a referendum on autonomy “bogus,” but the country has an election scheduled for May 25th that may well end up the same. That election came from the abrupt change in power from the Euromaidan revolution in February, when former president Viktor Yanukovich fled Ukraine. The interim government has insisted on holding those elections in order to maintain their legitimacy, but the question now will be how it can possibly take place where Ukrainian writ no longer runs. Juan Zarate tels Margaret Brennan that the failure to hold those elections plays right into Vladimir Putin’s hands:

Right now, it seems impossible to hold legitimate elections in the major cities in the east, which undermines the whole raison d’être of holding them at all. This has turned into a civil war, and none of these questions of legitimacy or sovereignty appear ripe for resolution at the ballot box in the present circumstance, unfortunately. And that most definitely does play right into Putin’s hands, as Zarate says.

Update: Putin pours a little cold water on the plebiscite, and endorses the May 25th elections — at least for now:

President Vladi­mir Putin called Wednesday for the postponement of a sovereignty referendum that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have scheduled for Sunday.

“We are asking representatives in the southeast of Ukraine and supporters of federalization to postpone the referendum scheduled for the 11th of May,” Putin told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.

He said Ukrainian presidential and mayoral elections scheduled for May 25 were “a movement in the right direction, only if all the citizens of Ukraine understand how their rights will be ensured.”


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Big words, Lurch.

ElectricPhase on May 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

99% will vote in favor of secession and Russia will accept annexation.

Why can’t we have secession referenda on the ballots here? I don’t want to be in the same country as that corrupt DC place anymore…

ConstantineXI on May 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Big words, Lurch.

ElectricPhase on May 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

I doubt he understands what they mean.

upinak on May 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Kyiv?

Oil Can on May 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Kerry’s exact words “The elections would be as bogus as the Jewish State of Israel.”

tdarrington on May 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

The western Ukraine overthrows a legitimately elected government (instead of waiting for the 2015 election), replaces elected pro-Russian governors with pro-Euro oligarchs, imprisons pro-Russians that try to get on the presidential ballot, attempts to kill the pro-Russian mayor of Kharkov (who was also trying to get on the ballot), gives a nudge and a wink to the nationalists that “no Ukrainians are east of the Dnieper” (actual quote by the criminal Julia Tymoshenko) to indicate that violence against ethnic Russians is OK, then cries when the Crimea secedes, states that opponents are “terrorists” and that the eastern regions aren’t allowed to hold a referendum on secession. And America supports this?

higgins1991 on May 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

A strongly worded letter to Putin, no doubt is on its way.

TXUS on May 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Look for the State Department to come up with another biting hashtag, like #PutinIsAPoopyHead, or something equally as humiliating for the Russian president, as part of State’s effort to back up Kerry’s accusation.

jon1979 on May 7, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Ukraine just to give it up. They are toast and there will zero help from anyone. Our guys just look like the fools that they are.

Cindy Munford on May 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Takes one to know one.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Behold the mighty power of diplomacy!

rhombus on May 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Kyiv?

Oil Can on May 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Ukrainian spelling as opposed to the Russian spelling.

BigGator5 on May 7, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Russia’s Putin calls for postponement of referendum in eastern Ukraine

“We are asking representatives in the southeast of Ukraine and supporters of federalization to postpone the referendum scheduled for the 11th of May,” Putin told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.

He said Ukrainian presidential and mayoral elections scheduled for May 25 were “a movement in the right direction, only if all the citizens of Ukraine understand how their rights will be ensured.”

kcewa on May 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Lt. for Life (Bogus) John F. Kerry.

Sin Walking.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Just put some Black Panthers by the entrance of each polling station. either they rig the vote or get killed by Russians. Win-win.

Rix on May 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Dang, Putin is so much smarter than our guys.

Cindy Munford on May 7, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Kerry: “Ukraine on a path to become an apartheid state”

BobMbx on May 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Once Putin has annexed Eastern Ukraine to the Dnieper, he turns south and then west to cut off the rest of the Ukraine from the Black Sea (and open a wide corridor westward) and start the subjugation of Moldova. Next up (if not, before), the Baltics. O’ will blame Bush and Kerri, Israel…

vnvet on May 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM

CBS correspondent Clarissa Ward stood and watched as Ukrainian security forces abandoned the building, which was retaken by pro-Russian civilians

They’ve done the same thing near Sloviansk, drive into town destroy the checkpoints then retreat back to the edge of town.

Could be a way of targeting the armed militias without getting entangled in large groups of civilians.

agmartin on May 7, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday the referendum set for Sunday would be “bogus” and not recognized by the West

…John the JugHead is the “bogus” one…and the world knows it!

KOOLAID2 on May 7, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Kyiv?

Oil Can on May 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Like Beijing. they just want to mess with us.

formwiz on May 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM

The one thing I am sure about is that if anything is bogus, it’s our ludicrous, incompetent, Sec of State…… what an embarrassment! He needs to go back to ketchup…….

ultracon on May 7, 2014 at 3:09 PM

My congratulations to whoever is responsible for Kerry’s lip movement and mannerisms.

He looked almost human.

schmuck281 on May 7, 2014 at 10:27 PM

What is Kyiv?

EricJames on May 8, 2014 at 5:36 PM