While plotting the downfall of the Soviet Union, months before the referendum which gave Ukraine its independence and empowered Yeltsin to complete his struggle for power, Yeltsin addressed the status of Donbass, Odessa and Crimea with his Ukrainian counterpart and co-conspirator. When confronted with a crystal clear statement that Ukraine was not willing to give up any of its territory, Yeltsin stated that “with a bleeding heart, Russia must pay the price of giving up the Russian cities of Kharkov, Donetsk, Mariupol and Odessa to gain its own independence” and his counterpart only noticed later that Yeltsin did not mention Crimea in this statement. Several months later, during their final personal meeting in Minsk before the collapse of the Soviet Union, both future presidents agreed that there will be no resettlement of citizens between their countries and the current borders will be accepted by all parties involved.
During his flight back to Moscow, Yeltsin told his aide that he would “bring back the mines and farmlands of Donbass to Russia when the time is right and make sure the harbors of Mariupol, Odessa and Sevastopol will once again fly the Russian flag” but that for now he would go along with the agreement. His aide noted in his memoirs that Yeltsin didn’t even bother to mention the people involved and that he wondered how Yeltsin was planning to come back on an agreement he had just committed to. As a result of this agreement, former citizens of the Soviet Union living in Donbass woke up on New Year’s Day as citizens of Ukraine without being asked for their will. A country with which they had neither emotional nor historical ties for in all they were, they were Russians in their hearts and their souls. Forced to be citizens of a country they didn’t belong to, a country which never truly accepted them and abandoned by the future presidents during negotiations over power.
It is those people who Val Lisitsa speaks up for, it is those people who Val gives a voice when nobody involved in the current political environment is willing to listen. Those citizens of Donbass, who were and are deprived of their Human Right of Self-Determination, are the people to whom Val feels connected most and all Val wants is that they will finally be granted that right which is firmly anchored in the Charters of the United Nation, the right of self-determination. And if the outcome of that right of self-determination will be that the majority will democratically decide to remain citizens of Ukraine in the current system and rulings, Val will be the first to accept that, as difficult as it will be for her. That is the Val I know and respect.
Continue reading Val Lisitsa – When a voice is silenced by lies…