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‘Crimean referendum is democracy in action’

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter

Published time: March 17, 2014 12:55
Pro-Russian Crimeans wave Russian flags as they gather to celebrate in Simferopol's Lenin Square on March 16, 2014 after exit polls showed that about 93 percent of voters in Ukraine's Crimea region supported union with Russia.(AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff)

It’s nonsense to call the referendum in Crimea illegal when the West recognized independent Montenegro after the referendum in 2006 when only 55.5 percent voted for separation from Serbia, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark told RT.

RT: Exit polls say 93 percent of Crimeans voted to join Russia. It’s hard for the West to ignore this fact, isn't it?

Neil Clark: Absolutely. The purest form of democracy is a referendum. You can’t argue with it- 93 percent is overwhelming. And it’s interesting the West have said this is illegal and nonsense. They recognized Montenegro because there was the referendum in 2006 when only 55.5 percent voted for separation from Serbia. So why was that referendum OK and this one in Crimea is illegal? It’s nonsense. This is democracy in action, the Crimean people voted overwhelmingly to say “yes” to Russia.

RT: So what steps do you expect to see from the EU and the US now?

NC: I think they have shown in the last few weeks once again their complete contempt for democracy, they showed it with their support for the violent and illegal coup that toppled President Yanukovich, the democratically-elected president, back in February. That shows their contempt for democracy, because there were elections due in February 2015. Why not wait for them? No, they have supported a violent coup and now they have shown their contempt for democracy by slamming this referendum.

As I have said, the purest form of democracy is a referendum. And if the West continues to come out and say “this is illegal, it can’t be recognized,” they would look even more foolish than they already are. People across Europe and all over the world are awakening to that fact that the US and the EU are not interested in democracy because when people do have a vote like they had in Crimea, they just dismiss it. So I think they have got a choice now whether to accept this, to accept Crimea re-joining Russia, or whether they are going to carry on looking stupid.

A man leaves a voting booth to cast his ballot during the referendum on the status of Ukraine's Crimea region at a polling station in Sevastopol March 16, 2014.(Reuters / Baz Ratner)

RT: Do you think the clear signs of extremism within the Ukrainian far right could turn the Western leaders against them?

NC: I don’t think so because the Western leaders have been supporting the far right in Ukraine, haven’t they? We wouldn't have had this violent coup without the efforts of the Right Sector. They were the people at the forefront of the violent demonstrations. They were people who were torching the government buildings. They were the people throwing the Molotov cocktails at the police. The idea that the West is somehow ashamed of them, the idea is that the West needed them to bring down Yanukovich government and I think the West is showing for a long-long time now, not just in Ukraine, they have shown this in Syria where they backed radicals and terrorists in Syria, people affiliated to Al-Qaeda, they have shown it in Libya too. But there is nobody too extreme to the West when they want to achieve regime change they will back anybody, whether they are neo-Nazis, whether they are Al-Qaeda affiliates, so there is a little chance for the West to back down their support for the Right Sector, this is a government which has neo-Nazis at its core in Kiev and the West is supporting it. It’s absolutely obscene and outrageous really.

RT: And what about reports of Ukrainian military hardware moving towards the Russian border - is this a cause for concern?

NC: The West has planned that they would topple the government in Kiev and Russia would make some comments, would say it’s wrong, unacceptable but do nothing for the people in eastern and the southern Crimea. But they have fought back and this is democracy in action. The West honestly thought the people wouldn't respond to this violent coup d’état in Ukraine, this toppling of the democratically-elected leader. And now they have got what they deserve.

People are fighting back in Crimea. So I think the West has miscalculated here on a massive scale, that wasn't Russia who miscalculated, it’s been the West who thought they could pull this off without any costs to them, but the costs are going to be quite large now. The credibility had been lost by America, by the EU and I think Russia has gained in this.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.