The message from Rinat?

May 12, 2014

Before I start, I will conclude yesterday’s entry with this from Human Rights Watch relating to the same incident I commented upon – but who go further than I raising the question due process as well.

HRW make some good points made also regarding various incidents in Mariupol too – some currently falling in favour of the government and others against – but all requiring much further investigation before positions can be adopted.  That is after all the point of independent civil society after all.

I will also not comment in detail upon what already appears to be something of a farce relating to voting in some parts of eastern Ukraine today.  There will be enough written about the failure to meet any acceptable electoral/referendum standards by those actually at the scene over the next 24 hours.

Suffice to say the live-streams, photographs already made public, comments made to journalists, not to mention reports of men with guns making various threats at various polling stations, severely undermine the entire process – even if it were a lawful vote.  Whatever the vote results, due to the process they will always been deemed suspect – even if they were accurate.  The small number of voting stations makes for mayhem and very long lines for those who want to take part and vote, whilst with it being an illegitimate vote, most who would vote “No” will stay away rather than take part and be seen to give it any legitimacy.  – A mess.

What to make then of the statement by Rinat Akhmetov’s SCM/Metinvest companies yesterday?


It led to some light-hearted banter on twitter – but there are serious questions to be asked.

What does this statement say with regard to what is actually being voted for?

MetInvest (or Rinat Akhmetov) with immediate effect has set up its own paramilitary to restore order in The Donbas from amongst the 300,000 employees of Mr Akhmetov in the region – something entirely pointless if The Donbas is to vote to secede Ukraine entirely in the immediate future.  So is secession what is being voted for?

The wording of the actual ballot is (unsurprisingly) somewhat elastic.  It can be interpreted as a vote for more local autonomy, for more (unspecified) autonomy, or indeed a step toward the annexation of The Donbas by Russia.

Clearly it is not in the interests of Mr Akhmetov to have The Donas secede to Russia – it would be a matter of time before a Russian oligarch subjected him to asset stripping.  From the statement issued by his MetInvest vehicle,  secession is not how it – and by extension all 300,000 employees who want to keep their jobs within – will see the vote either.

Any formal federalisation is also too risky for Mr Akhmetov as The Kremlin can at any time create circumstances where a federalised bite-sized chunk – Mr Akhmetov’s chunk – of Ukraine can be devoured with little effort.

That leaves the questions of what exactly is ” more local autonomy”, or “more (unspecified) autonomy” as can be interpreted from the ballot paper?  Perhaps a question for another day – and one that with Mr Akhmetov’s MetInvest paramilitaries bringing “order” to The Donbas, will certainly be shaped in no uncertain terms by him at a very local and personal level throughout the Donbas region and its electorate.



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