Peaceful demonstrations celebrating the 200th birthday of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko, in Crimea and Lugansk (eastern Ukraine), were attacked by Russians today. The one in Simferopol, attended by a few hundred, was attacked by Cossacks using bullwhips (their favorite tool for use on people), while the one at the Shevchenko monument in Lugansk, numbering about 1,500 people, was broken up forcibly by up to 9,000 Russians who came from around the city administration. There is information that many of these were bussed in from Russia. As usual, the police did nothing, as when the Russians broke into the Lugansk and Donetsk city administrations and forced the new Kyiv-appointed governors to sign their resignations.
Preparations continue for the already decided 16 March referendum in Crimea on joining Russia. Other motley groups of thugs have been seen in Crimea, including the Serbian Chetniks and there have been alleged sightings in Crimea of the Russian National Unity Party–a group of Nazis who even do the salute (what better group to fight what Moscow claims to be a Nazi Banderist government in Kyiv!).
The most motley of all, perhaps, was the motorcycle parade today of Putin’s friend Chirurg and his Night Wolves motorcycle gang through Sevastopol, where they had a ceremony for the arrival of at least three new Scania trucks from Russia, with the soft side trailers all having the same shiny new design and logo saying “Humanitarian Aid from Russian motorcyclists to Sevastopol.” First off, this was a 100% Russian government publicity stunt. The soft sides/tops of those trucks, with the professional logos, probably cost about $10,000 each–certainly not some charity group effort. Also, it is doubtful that the people of Sevastopol, or anywhere else in Crimea, need humanitarian aid. Actually the ones who need some are the Ukrainian soldiers and sailors who have been under siege in their blockaded installations for over a week, as the Russian troops and their helpers are not letting in any food or supplies.
It also appears that there may, as anticipated, be the threat of ethnic cleansing in Crimea after the annexation by Russia. People have been going around at night painting crosses on houses of Crimean Tatars, and yesterday a small hotel run by Tatars, and a couple of their cars, were torched. Just a hint of things to come, especially as they do not support the secession, and Chetniks (who carried out some of the worst ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims and Kosovars) are in town.
Finally, disappearances are happening in Crimea, with a couple of female Automaidan activists and an accompanying journalist being apprehended at the “border” and subsequently going missing.