“Prime Minister” of Crimea appeals to Odessa to secede UkraineMarch 11, 2014
Well here is an interesting appeal.
The Prime Minister (perhaps) of Crimea, making an appeal to the people of Odessa to overthrow the politicians, demand a referendum and secede from Ukraine.
I’m not quite sure how much traction he thinks his appeal is going to get, but I suspect he is going to be very disappointed. The only Russian flag flying in Odessa at the moment is raised over the Russian Consulate. Everywhere else the flag of Ukraine flutters in the sea breeze.
It may be that Odessa is a Russian speaking city. It may be that residents of Odessa may see things through a slightly different lens to those in Lviv and Kyiv – but it is also true that they see things in a slightly different way to those in Donetsk and Kharkiv too.
There is a saying repeatedly heard in Odessa born out of centuries of cosmopolitan exposure via the ports that perhaps other parts of Ukraine have never really been subjected to – “Ukraine is Ukraine, but Odessa is Odessa”. In normal circumstances that is entirely true. Normally nobody here pays much attention to who says what in Kyiv or Donetsk or Lviv – no matter how important those people may think they are.
But these are not normal circumstances.
Flags of Ukraine and the Odessa City flags are far more noticeable than ever before. Not simply on government buildings as is normally the case, but on commercial premises, domestic property, and hung out of car windows.
Odessa collectively will continue to speak Russian as the language of first choice – come what may, of that there is no doubt. But be also of little doubt that there is a strong Ukrainian patriotism that is equally robust and stubborn that will not wilt to the overtures of appeals from Crimea – or strong arm tactics from The Kremlin should they come.
As an aside, unsurprisingly, Moscow has PR firms now rapidly canvassing those with previous election monitoring experience to go to Crimea to monitor the referendum.
As always the ultimate issue with monitoring is who writes the reports – and who decides who writes the report.
The issue at hand for Moscow is how to make an illegitimate referendum appear a little more legitimate – naturally.