Event ReportsPublished on Mar 16, 2014
Accusing the US and the EU of practising double-standards, Russian Consul General in Chennai, Dr Nikolay A Listopadov, has said the interests of the EU and the US would be accepted as long as they did not come in the way of Russia's.
Can't allow NATO bases in Ukraine, reiterates Russia
The Consul-General of the Russian Federation for Southern India at Chennai, Dr Nikolay A Listopadov, has blamed the Russo-phobic attitude exhibited by many ultra-nationalists in Ukraine for the current crisis.

Initiating an interaction on "Ukraine: Russia's Perspective" at ORF-Chennai Chapter on March 16, Dr Listopadov said a balanced and unbiased approach is necessary to understand the crisis which has led to Crimea, in a referendum, deciding to join the Russian Federation.

He spoke positively about the Crimean referendum that was only underway when he was speaking at distant Chennai. He said nearly 80 percent of the Crimean population wanted to join the Russian Federation. The reason behind such a possible turnout was obvious since 60 percent of the population was Russian. From among the rest, 20 percent was Ukrainian, yet they spoke Russian, he pointed out. He predicted that the voter turnout in the referendum would be very high.

Dr Listopadov said the western media is strongly biased against Russia. He said the pro-western government that came to power recently in Ukraine was a result of a coup d?état and Russia does not recognise them.

He blamed the new 'regime' in Kiev for the violent protests in Ukraine, and blamed officials of EU nations such as Germany and Poland for the anti-incumbent protests against then President Viktor Yanukovych, which started in November last year. He recalled that some of these EU officials had resorted to anti-government rhetoric at the protest venue. He said officials in Kiev tried to sow discord between Ukrainian and Russian Tatars in order to further enhance the chaos.

At the historic cross-roads

Prior to getting into the crux of the issue, Dr Listopadov explained the historical connection between Crimea with Russia. Crimea was gifted by the then Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine in 1954. He also said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine launched a rapid 'Ukrainisation' policy and Parliament abolished the use of Russian language in the country.

Crimea has always been a part of 'historical cross roads', he said. Crimea had been the part of Russia since the 18th century and has played an important role in many historic battles, including the Battle of Crimea. The peninsula had been the centre of Russia's glory in the 19th century, especially during this battle. An independent Constitution for the Republic of Crimea was adopted in 1992, giving itself autonomy from Ukraine.

Dr Listopadov said even the government in Crimea does not recognise the 'regime' in Ukraine. If Crimea chooses to be a part of Russia, the Consul-General said, Russian, Ukrainian and the Tatar language would be recognised as official languages of that region.

Dr Listopadov blamed the US and the EU for practising double-standards. He said the interests of the EU and the US would be accepted as long as they did not come in the way of Russia's.

He said prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had promised that NATO would not get involved, but the talks of setting up a NATO base in Ukraine clearly exhibits their double-standards, he said. He categorically said that Russia cannot allow NATO bases in Ukraine.

Dr Listopadov stressed on the special interests of Russia on Ukraine. While he touched upon the threats by several nations to impose sanctions on Russia, he said it would be counter-productive and would have a boomerang effect on the EU countries as Russia supplies the ever-essential gas through its extensive pipeline to Europe.

Open to dialogue

However, Dr Listopadov said Russia is open to dialogue and diplomatic solutions to end the prevailing unrest in Ukraine. When a question was raised regarding the autonomy of Crimea if it voted to become a part of Russia, he said that Crimea may retain its Parliament and exercise autonomy like it did but would also be governed by the laws of the Russian Federation.

(This report was prepared by Ramalingam. Va, second-year B A, Journalism & Mass Communication, S R M University, Chennai)

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