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Comment: Re:Wait.... what? (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47809335) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

BTW, here's why I think the official results are closer to reality than this guy's estimates.

First of all, there are UN polls (which I trust more than any Russian or Ukrainian polls, given how politicized this matter has always been between the two countries). Before the election of Yanukovich as president, in 2009, these shown 70% in favor of joining Russia, and only 15% against it. These figures gradually decreased to 65% under Yanuk. After he was ousted and maidan took over in Kiev, I'd expect this number to shoot back to 70%, at the very least, and likely grow even further because of heavy Russian propaganda pitching maidan as "fascists" and "banderovtsy" (and most people in Crimea were getting their news mainly from Russian TV channels, not Ukrainian ones). With 16% undecided in the original polls, I can totally see support at 75% or so.

The other, more indirect indicator is language. This is more reliable than ethnicity, because Ukraine has a very blurry line between the two, with plenty of people self-identifying as Ukrainian on the basis of their family name or their parents' self-identification, but culturally and linguistically behaving as Russians in all other aspects. For example, in Crimea, less than 60% self-identified as Russians, but 77% listed Russian as their native language of communication (and 90% in Sevastopol) - whereas only 10% listed Ukrainian as such. It's even more skewed if you ask people which language they primarily use at home with family (since some would consider native language tied to ethnicity) - in this case you're looking at something like 95% in Crimea. Crimea also had extremely low levels of bilingualism, with only 30% of the population proficient in Ukrainian at all - a stark contrast with the rest of the country, where bilingualism is the norm, except for Western Ukraine where Ukrainian dominates with a similar proportion.

Now if you look at these language figures and consider them a proxy for political affiliation (an oversimplification, but not an unreasonable one), they also match pretty closely to what the official claim was: 80% turnout, 97% in favor of the union. What this looks like to me is that most everyone who was against the union did not vote at all, considering the referendum illegal (Crimean Tatars, in particular, had an open boycott); and most of those who wanted the union came and voted. The real numbers are probably closer to 70% for turnout and 90% in favor or thereabouts, but still a clear supermajority.

Comment: Re:Wait.... what? (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47809145) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

I would consider it such, if it were based on some solid data (i.e. polls or such) - but this is just one guy's opinion, and I don't know where he stands politically in general. The Russian "human rights council" is basically an umbrella organization to keep pet opposition under control - and "pet" here means that they don't do anything that is actually dangerous to the regime, but they still occasionally flaunt their not-quite-agreeable status in harmless ways.

Regarding the division, I assume that the text - being written by a Russian official after the annexation - uses the political division that Russia has adopted. In it, Sevastopol is a "city of federal importance", which means that it is its own separate federal subject with its own government etc; and the rest of the peninsula is the Republic of Crimea. The only other places in Russia that have a similar arrangement are Moscow and St Petersburg, which are also distinct from their surrounding oblasts.

The referendum itself was also split along the same lines, because the arrangement was also similar in Ukraine - Sevastopol was a "city with special status" with its own administration, and distinct from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. So the Sevastopol city administration held one referendum within its limits, and Crimean administration (in Simferopol) held it in the rest of the peninsula - and, technically speaking, those two had separate results. So when discussing them, it's common to address each part separately, especially as the results in Sevastopol were significantly skewed by letting Russian soldiers legally stationed in the city (on the naval base) to vote.

Comment: Re:Wait.... what? (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47808715) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

It's not Putin's people, though. It's one guy from the "President's Council for Human Rights", from a field report on his trip - not official data.

The numbers you quote are also not what's written there. He says "In Sevastopol, the vast majority voted for union, with a turnout of 50-80%. In Crimea [i.e. the rest of peninsula - not Sevastopol], according to varying sources, about 50-60% voted for the union, with a turnout of 30-50%".

Which, yes, is still different from the official figures. And the official figures are likely higher than reality, but reality is still that there's a clear majority supporting the union in Crimea. Which is not news to anyone who studied the topic before, since Crimea (and especially Sevastopol) was always a hotbed of Russian separatism in Ukraine.

Basically, it's kinda like presidential elections in Russia. They're falsified to show 70%+ approval, but Putin would still win them with a considerable margin even if they weren't.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 831

by shutdown -p now (#47808625) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

I can assure you that Soviet soldiers (and Soviet citizens in general, for whom it was fashionable at the time to want to volunteer to fight in Vietnam - kids would occasionally run away with such an idea in mind) knew full well that it was American soldiers fighting on the other side in Vietnam - it was prominent on "anti-Vietnam-war" posters etc that were in abundance everywhere. Here is one example - the text on the left says "Vietnam will win", the text on the right is "Aggressor out of Vietnam!'.

American involvement was a major staple of Soviet propaganda at the time. Indeed, it was a major staple of Soviet propaganda after WW2 in general - everything bad that happened in the world, happened because of American occupation thereof.

Comment: Re:Rules of war (Score 2) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798567) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

It's a bit more complicated.

Ukrainian military right now basically consists of three distinct parts. One is the regular army - those are reasonably well equipped (all the usual stuff, artillery, tanks, air etc - if somewhat outdated), but poorly motivated. The other is the National Guard, which was basically recreated and stuffed with mostly ex-MVD and internal troops - these are neither well equipped nor well motivated (many of them were on the "wrong" side of Maidan).

Then there is that part of the National Guard that consists of the volunteer batallions - Azov, Dniepr, Donbas, Aidar etc. These consist mostly from people who were on Maidan and wanted to keep the fight going, but also from the newly reinvigorated far right groups like Right Sector (in particular, Azov is almost 100% neo-Nazi, and they aren't even hiding that fact - take a look at their insignia, and if you're not familiar with the symbolism, look up Schwarzezonne and Wolfsangel). Now these guys are very motivated, and they are one of the few units which sometimes even refuse to retreat against direct orders to do so, and are generally very battle efficient. However, they are not well equipped - in many cases the state didn't even issue a proper uniform, so they're wearing the stuff that was crowdsourced for them, and they have very little heavy armor or artillery.

Comment: Re:Some people might unfairly judge Ukraine (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798553) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

If Russia had been "rolling tanks, armoured personnel carriers, rockets, heavy field guns, anti-aircraft guns, and airbourne [sic] troops" into Ukraine, it would have been subdued within a week at most - just as Czechoslovakia (sp) and Poland and Hungary were subdued, despite being far better organized than Ukraine today.

Czechoslovakia and Hungary were subdued in an open invasion - the Soviet troops that were rolling in on the tanks did not disguise their allegiance or which state sent them. And comparison doesn't work on many other levels. In Czechoslovakia, in particular, there was pretty much no open resistance. In Hungary, resistance was fierce, but poorly organized and very poorly equipped - basically, they had small arms, but little else, and definitely no artillery or armor. In Ukraine, the undercover Russian troops are facing the Ukrainian military, complete with UAVs, artillery, tanks and air support. It's not a "pacification" operation, it's modern warfare, almost at a full scale (the only thing that's missing is air support on the separatist/Russian side - though they already use UAVs for recog).

Comment: Re:Some people might unfairly judge Ukraine (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798541) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

They are unapologetically acting like the USSR; using the old national song as the basis of russia's national anthem is like the Germans taking up "deutchland, deutchland uber alles".

Guess what the official state anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany is?..

Comment: Re:How I know that Russian troops are not in Ukrai (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798535) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

I'm not GP, but the two tell-tale signs that I'm seeing are the spelling of "Abhasia" (direct transliteration of Russian "x" into "h" - it doesn't make sense for an English speaker, because the sounds are very different, which is why normal transliteration is "kh") and "08.08.08" (date format with dots and leading zeroes that is normally used in Russia, and it's also one of the few countries that refers to that conflict by the date alone, much like 9/11 in US).

Comment: Re:Actually Russians not well informed ... (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798527) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Not all Russians live in Russia. And even in Russia, there's still mostly unfiltered Internet, you know.

85% of the citizens may be sucking Vova's dick and enjoying it, but the rest of us are not so enthused, thank you very much. So don't dismiss a point just because of the person's native language. Dismiss it based on the validity or lack thereof of his arguments.

Comment: Re:Wait.... what? (Score 1) 237

by shutdown -p now (#47798513) Attached to: Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

Last time I checked, Ukraine was fighting a separatist movement that wants to liberate the east of Ukraine after a coup occured in Kiev.

"Liberate" is a funny word here. The previous leader of separatists, Alexandr Borodai, said in an interview that he does not consider himself a separatist - rather, Ukrainians are the separatists from the "Russian World", and his fight against them will only be over with the militia's tanks on the streets of Lviv.

If the separatists have the support of the majority of the local people, why would we oppose them?

They haven't shown any clear evidence that they do have the support of the majority of local people. Unlike the referendum in Crimea, the ones in DNR and LNR were so ad-hoc that their results are basically meaningless.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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