Russia ‘de-Ukrainizing’ population of Crimea, occupation census shows

The number of people in Crimea identifying as ethnic Ukrainians has fallen by 232,000 between the 2001 census conducted by the Ukrainian government and the 2014 census conducted by the Russian occupation authorities, a decline that has reduced the percentage of ethnic Ukrainians on the peninsula from 24.0 to 15.1 percent.

That contributed both to a decline in the total population of Crimea from 2.4 million to 2.285 million over the same period and to an increase in the ethnic Russian share of the population from 60.4 to 65.3 percent as well, according to data presented by Andrey Illarionov.

In order to understand that these are not natural shifts but the result of what Illarionov calls “the catastrophic factor” of the Russian Anschluss, he presents data on the total numerical and annual percentage changes of these two ethnic groups for the preceding (1989-2001) inter-censal period and those of the most recent one (2001-2014).

In the earlier period, the number of ethnic Russians declined from 1.64 to 1.45 million with annual percentage declines of 1.0 percent while the number of ethnic Ukrainians fell from 626,000 to 457,000 with annual percentage declines of 0.7 percent. But in the latter one, Russians increased by 0.2 percent while Ukrainians fell by even more, 3.9 percent a year.

In the course of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, “the ethnic composition of the population of Crimea was subjected to significant changes, the Russian analyst continues, the most important of which during that period was “the demographic catastrophe which affected the Crimean Tatars.”

But “the main event of the beginning of the21st century has become the demographic catastrophe which has affected ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea,” when over the last 15 years they have lost 40 percent of their total and seen their share of the total population of the peninsula fall from 24 to 15 percent.

According to Illarionov, “one can with a high degree of certainty assert that the qualitative changes in the ethnic composition of the population of Crimea took place in the course of the seven or eight months preceded the last census,” that is, “between February 27 and October 14, 2014.”

“The reduction of the population of any ethnic group of such a size over such a short period of time typically is caused by political events of an extraordinary character,” he points out, “by wars, famine, deportation, mass emigration or genocide. With the exception of periods of the civil war and World War II, such rates of reduction in the numbers of the population of this or that demographic as were seen in Crimea in 2014 were not seen in the last century.”

“In this case,” Illarionov says, “the sharp decline in the number of Ukrainians in Crimea was called forth evidently both by the mass departure of Ukrainians from Crimea and the conscious change by some of them of their official ethnic self-identification.”

And to appreciate just how large those two factors are, he suggests, one could compare the number of ethnic Ukrainians in fact with the number of ethnic Ukrainians who would have been in Crimea at the end of 2014 if the same rates of change from the previous inter-censal period had continued.

If that had been the case, there would have been 524,000 ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea, not the 180,000 fewer that the Russian census takers recorded in October 2014. That difference, he concludes, is a useful and appalling measure of “the cost of the Putin adventure for the Ukrainians of Crimea.”

Watch This: Shocking Russian national broadcast invokes Nazism, terrorism, and the restoration of the Soviet Union

Today in Russia something scary happened. On live television, broadcast nationally, shot in occupied Crimea in the city of Sevastopol, a musical Olympic-esque ceremony and rock concert was performed at a motorcycle expo attempting to depict Ukraine and its revolution in ways only worst described by Russian state propaganda to date. Last year’s show depicted a lavished reenactment of the battle of Stalingrad, but this year was all about the battle for Ukraine. The performance, broadcast on the Rossiya-2 network, was the most egregious example to date of Russia’s attempts to instill fear in the population, glorify terrorists operating in the east, and ring in a new era of Soviet restoration. Russian media described it as “patriotic,” but many should recognize this as classic agitprop – agitation propaganda.

What exactly happened and is this an exaggeration? Let’s take a look.

(The full video can be seen here)

The piece begins with a number of masked drummers marching in torch wielding performers dressed in black. The drummers, who stand beside an ominous US dollar symbol, have various bloody special effects; what the performers do is much more shocking. As they begin to goose-step in formation, they jointly form a human swastika as if putting on a production of Springtime for Hitler from the musical The Producers. This is meant to represent Ukrainians in general and more specifically Right Sector, a far-right political party which garnered less than 1% of the national vote in the previous presidential elections and played a minor but visible role in the Euromaidan revolution. In Russia, Right Sector is regularly portrayed as an enormous menace that brought European “fascism” to Ukraine; this portrayal, of course, is entirely fictional.

Masked drummers play beside US dollar sign
Masked drummers play beside US dollar sign
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika
Performers dressed in black form a human swastika

As the thunder of the music dies down, the ‘Nazis’ form a rigid line in salute of a now risen banner bearing the Right Sector emblem, beneath a pyramid emblazoned with the US dollar mark ($) and what can presumably be the Eye of Providence, seen on the US one-dollar bill and Great Seal.

"Nazis" stand in salute of the Right Sector banner and US dollar
“Nazis” stand in salute of the Right Sector banner and US dollar

Giant, skeletal, mechanized hands then descend center stage as the ‘marionettes’ beneath begin to fight amongst themselves. The hands have a ring bearing a striped eagle surrounded by stars, meant obviously to represent the United States’ engineering of the revolution. A globe featuring a map of Ukraine is defaced with explosions and blood as it lifts to the sky.

Ring on hands bearing a US eagle
Ring on hands bearing a US eagle
"Ukraine"
“Ukraine”

As they fight, shield carrying riot police wearing blue-camouflage, meant to represent the notorious ‘Berkut‘ special forces, former president Yanukovych’s personal stormtroopers, are rushed in who are promptly attacked on sight. In Kyiv, the Berkut made headlines for mercilessly attacking innocent civilians and journalists with impunity, and later for firing on unarmed crowds, killing protesters – in Russia, they are often heroized as martyrs.

A frightened child looks on
A frightened child looks on

The Berkut troops are then set on fire and a rock band beings to play as lynchings begin to happen.

Burning Berkut troops
Burning Berkut troops
A lynching
A lynching
Band playing the song "Maidan"
Band playing the song “Maidan”

Following the musical number, the sound of bomb dropping fills the air as Armored Personnel Carriers with red-and-black flags are rolled in.

Military vehicles bearing the black and red flag of the WW2 Ukrainian Insurgent Army
Military vehicles bearing the black and red flag of the WW2 Ukrainian Insurgent Army

But fear not, as AK-47 wielding terrorists (“freedom fighters”?) storm in to the sound of a triumphant musical score as they plant flags of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics in victory. These scenes here are eerily similar to Russian fantasy novels which have been released recently depicting the Russian destruction of Ukraine.

Terrorist firing a Kalashnikov
Terrorist firing a Kalashnikov
Terrorists flying "Donetsk Republic" terrorist group flag
Soldier flying “Donetsk Republic” terrorist group flag
Soldier flying "Lugansk Republic" terrorist group flag
Soldier flying “Lugansk Republic” terrorist group flag

 

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Long live the creation of the will of the people, the united, mighty Soviet Union![/quote]

This, magnificently, culminates with an orchestral and glorifying rendition of the Soviet national anthem. Many may confuse it for that of the Russian Federation, which uses an identical musical score, but the lyrics are the Soviet rendition: “Long live the creation of the will of the people, the united, mighty Soviet Union!” The camera then pans to a slightly altered Soviet coat of arms as a salvo of fireworks explode overhead – however –  gone are the iconic hammer and sickle of the Communist regime, and in its place is the imperial eagle of the Russian Empire (now used by Russia). This iconic fusing of the USSR and modern Russian Federation only lead credence to the longstanding belief that that Russian president Vladimir Putin is intent on rewinding the clock and restoring the Soviet Union.

The new coat of arms of Russia?
The new coat of arms of Russia?
Fireworks compliment the Soviet anthem
Fireworks compliment the Soviet anthem
A triumphant finale
A triumphant finale

Imagine if a mass performance in Germany performed the national anthem of the Third Reich. Imagine if this took place in any other country depicting another like this. Period. Scary, isn’t it?

Of course, following this display of Cirque du Jingoism, President Putin’s name was announced to thunderous applause by Alexander “the Surgeon” Zaldostanov, leader of Russia’s equivalent of the Hell’s Angels – a passing of the torch both fitting and bizarre. 

What do you think of this performance? Leave a comment below.