Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov Opt Out of Sham May 25 Elections

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May 18, 2014
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May 19, 2014
Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov Opt Out of Sham May 25 Elections
by Stephen Lendman
They mock legitimate ones. Choices exclude democracy. Fascist ones alone will compete. 
Results are largely pre-determined. No matter who wins, ordinary Ukrainians lose.
Eastern regions won’t participate. Days earlier, Donetsk and Lugansk leaders opted out. On May 18, Kharkov’s Yuri Apukhtin said:
His “region will hold a referendum on independence following Donetsk and Lugansk.” 
“Our task is not to participate in Ukrainian presidential elections in any case.” 
“We should meet on this square on May 25. We do not recognise these elections.”
On May 17, second round sham national unity talks were held in Kharkov. Freedom-fighter activists were excluded from participating. 
Pro-coup supporters alone were invited. Apukhtin justifiably criticized what everyone should denounce.
On Sunday, Sergey Lavrov spoke to his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said:
They “expressed concern about the continuing clashes and agreed that the situation must be de-escalated urgently.” 
“The violence should be stopped in order to avoid further fatalities and favorable conditions should be created for a truly comprehensive national dialogue on constitutional reform.”
They discussed “the importance of roundtable discussions, taking into account that the interests of the country’s southeastern regions must be duly represented.”
Steinmeier said Western countries should avoid confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.
At the same time, he faced Bundestag criticism. Various members oppose Berlin’s anti-Russian policies. Ones harming German interests.
Both countries are major trading partners. They want nothing interfering with business. They want Ukrainian crisis conditions resolved diplomatically.
Steinmeier promised support. He can’t guarantee success, he said.
He’s concerned about sanctions. He calls them “dead end” policy. He fears “we will all have to bear the costs.”
Days earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a campaign event. She was roundly booed. Protesters oppose her agenda.
Signs read “Europe is strong only with Russia.” “Stop the Nazis in Ukraine.”
German industrial giants reacted sharply to sanctions. They want longstanding valued business relations protected. 
A leaked German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade letter said:
“Deeper economic sanctions would lead to a situation where contracts would increasingly be given to domestic firms, projects would be suspended or delayed by the Russian side, and Russian industry and politicians would turn to Asia, in particular China.”
German and other European firms fear losing market share. They’re concerned about “longterm and sustained irreparable damage.”
They want East/West squabbles handled politically, not economically or financially. They want nothing harming their bottom line interests.
Over 6,000 German companies do business in Russia. Around 300,000 German jobs are at stake.
Germany’s Economic Minister/Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel largely blamed Russia for Ukrainian crisis conditions. He admitted flawed EU policy.
“It was certainly not smart to create the impression in Ukraine that it had to decide between Russia and the EU,” he said.
John Laughland heads the Paris-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.
“The West is engaged in all-out ideological and geopolitical struggle with Russia, which it intends to win,” he said. 
“There are all sorts of things Europe can do. It can ratchet up what it’s already done.” 
“It can publish longer lists of people who are subject to personal sanctions.” 
“It will definitely abandon the visa liberalization program, which Russia has been requesting for nearly a decade now.” 
“And it can even reduce economic exchanges. Russia should not be under any illusions.” 
“The European elites are prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face.” 
“In other words, they are prepared to undergo or make other people undergo severe economic pain in order to justify and entrench their ideological hostility to Russia.”
In some ways perhaps. Not others. Nothing harming valued economic ties. Business wants bottom line interests protected.
Politicians depend on its support. They won’t bite valued hand feeding them. Other than token anti-Russian policies largely too minor to matter.
Washington may be tougher. Despite domestic business opposition. US/Russian trade is small compared to Europe’s.
Whether losses can be made up elsewhere remains to be seen.
Moscow and Beijing are close to consummating a “Holy Grail” trade deal. It’ll bond both countries more closely together. It’ll do so politically and economically.
They’ll trade increasingly in their own currencies. They’ll bypass dollar transactions. They’ll weaken it doing so.
Russia will supply China with around 38 billion cubic million meters of natural gas annually. It’ll do do for the next 30 years.
Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said supplies could rise up to 60 billion cubic meters annually. It depends on Beijing’s needs going forward.
Northwest and Northeast pipelines will ship Russian gas. They’ll feed China’s huge appetite.
Last year, it imported 53 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Putin’s visit is his first since Xi Jinping became president in March 2013.
Both countries are close to a whopper of a trade deal. It’s “98% ready,” said Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovksy.
On May 20, Putin arrives in China. Top Russian political and business officials are coming with him.
They include Gazprom’s Miller. Annual Sino/Russian trade runs around $100 billion. It’ll increase going forward.
Both countries are major trading partners. Worsening US relations solidifies stronger ties.
Putin and China’s Xi Jinping reached consensus months earlier.
China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said companies from both nations discussed pricing.
“We will strive to get (them) to (finalize deal terms and have things) witnessed by both state leaders while Putin is in China,” he said.
At the same time, coup-appointed Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia urged tougher sanctions. 
He wants what he called “preventative ones.” He wants what EU countries won’t impose. Valued economic ties won’t be jeopardized.
Alexey Pushkov is Russia’s lower house State Duma International Relations Committee Chairman.
“There will be an election in Ukraine,” he said. 
“The question is, however, whether Donetsk and Lugansk will participate in it.” 
“Evidently not but that’s got nothing to with Russia. It’s the free choice of the population of those regions.” 
“I hope that after the election, more pragmatic politicians will come to power in Kiev, who will realize that the problems facing Ukraine cannot be solved without Russia.”
Post- election, they’ll have to deal with Russia, he added. Confrontation is self-defeating.
“The price of gas, the export of Ukrainian goods, the tariffs, the contracts needed to keep lots of Ukrainian industries running.”
“They will have to discuss all those issues with us. Without Russia, and this is acknowledged both in Germany and France, there is no solving the Ukrainian crisis.”
On Sunday, RT International said Kiev forces targeted Russian journalists Oleg Sidyankin and Marat Saichenko.
They’re LifeNews employees. They were attacked last week. They escaped unharmed. At the time, they were with RT’s Ruptly video crew. 
On May 18, Ukrainian forces confronted them. They arrested them. They harassed them. They handcuffed them. They detained them.
They’re missing. Their whereabouts is unknown. Communication was cut off. Before abduction, Sidyankin text-messaged “things look bad.”
EuroMaidan posted their photos on Twitter. A caption read: “Lifenews employees captured near Kramatorsk.”
Sidyankin was wounded earlier. Saichenko is a prominent photojournalist/cameraman. Earlier he worked during Libyan and Syrian conflicts.
He photographed oligarch Mkhail Khordorkovsky in prison. He was the first person to do it. He gained prominence at the time.
He and Sidyankin are endangered. Fascists give free people everywhere cause for concern.
LifeNews asked Lavrov for help. General Director Ashot Gabrelyanov issued a statement, saying:
“We bring to your attention the fact that a LifeNews TV crew of reporter Oleg Sidyakin and cameraman Marat Saichenko went missing on May 18, while on an editorial mission to cover developments in the southeast of Ukraine.”
“Journalists of LifeNews TV channel were in Ukraine legally, and were working in accordance with international rules without violating law.” 
“We ask you to help free journalists of a Russian television channel.”
They’ll likely need plenty. Fascists give no quarter. Police states operate this way. 
Kiev putschists resemble Nazi era thugs. No one in Ukraine is safe with them in charge. 
Eliminating them is top priority. Restoring democracy matters most. Courageous Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters aim to do so. 
They deserve universal support! Their struggle is ours! It’s everyone’s wanting to live free!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.