News / Europe

Crimea Referendum Spurs Ethnic Tensions

Crimea's Referendum Spurs Ethnic Tensions in Ukrainei
X
March 11, 2014 4:02 AM
With only days before the referendum on the future of Ukraine's Crimea region, all eyes are on the peninsula where a Russian-speaking majority is likely to side with Moscow. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Crimea's Referendum Spurs Ethnic Tensions in Ukraine
Zlatica Hoke
With only days to go before the referendum on the future of Ukraine's Crimea region is held, all eyes are on the peninsula where a Russian-speaking majority is likely to side with Moscow. Crimea's looming separation from Ukraine is raising fears that Moscow will not stop before asserting control over all the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine. Analysts think any division of Ukraine is likely to fuel ethnic tensions in the region.
 
Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea's pro-Russian leader, has been clear about his expectations from the Sunday referendum.
 
"Today the Ukrainian army is blocked in its own bases. After the referendum for a future union with Russia, they will have to either leave the territory of Crimea, or they will have to serve in the armed forces and swear allegiance to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, or to Russia," said Aksyonov.
 
For the region's minorities, such as Muslim Tatars, this announcement sounds ominous. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused the Tatars of collaboration with Nazis and had them deported to the eastern Soviet Union after World War II.  The Muslim group, which has since returned to Crimea, now fears a new wave of persecutions.
 
"The Tatars of Crimea are persecuted because we're Muslim. And, what's worse, the Russian radical politicians dream that Russia will become 100 percent Russian without any other representatives of other nationalities," said Abul Gafar, a Crimean Tatar.
 
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors has also expressed concern about Crimean Tatars. 
 
"The Crimean Tatars have now taken a position that is different from the majority of Crimea, and my assessment is that this different position has increased their vulnerability. So if, if we want to be really alert, we must follow what is happening to their population and also the ignoration [being ignorant] of their situation cannot continue. They need resources to be integrated and they need our attention," said Thors.
 
With Kyiv on the verge of losing Crimea, there are concerns that the country's other Russian-speaking regions may want to follow suit.
 
Political scientist Volodymyr Kipen at the Donetsk Institute for Social Research and Political Analysis said most residents of Donetsk support the unity of Ukraine, but warned that the risk of separatism should not be ignored.
 
"The risk of separatism does exist in Donetsk but it is limited and fueled by forces outside the country. If the government acts like it should, this risk can be isolated, minimized, so that it does not become a threat to the state,” said Kipen.
 
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting the United States this week as he seeks Western support for the preservation of his country.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More